Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sister Brigit Comes Inside

   Yes, I know it hasn't been a week since I've made an entry, but so much has happened in the last few days I just couldn't wait.
   The first cabinet delivery came on Monday. We were blessed with good weather in the morning...just enough time to get everything inside.  The craft room island was a tight fit, but they muscled it in without damage.
   I know it's a little self-occupied but I couldn't help but to admire the craft room island. There are large and small racks for my stained glass pieces, and project drawers on the left. There will be cabinet doors over the glass rack to protect any little inquisitive fingers from a nasty cut. On top on the right side, Ed will probably put in a light table. I'm so excited!

  Today's delivery was for the craft room and the bath room vanities. I love how the toekicks came out on the vanities. They look great with the shaker style cabinet doors.
   Ed finished tiling the upstairs bathrooms. The tile is setting and we're waiting to grout.
   While the weather is holding, Ed decided  it would be a good time to do one of the jobs we have been dreading: move the antique stove into the house.  This is a 1920s Magic Chef 1000 with two ovens and 6 burners. For 10 years I've dreamed about having this in my kitchen.

    Because it weighs between 500-600 lbs, Ed wanted to get it in before he put down the travertine in the foyer. The plan is to forklift it up onto the porch and roll it on a dolly through the foyer, down the hall and into the kitchen.
   I started by clearing a path in the garage where the stove has lived for the last five years. That alone was no small chore. The garage has become the storage place for stuff for the, bath fixtures.
   We got it through the garage without any huge problems, and Ed brought the tractor around to pick it up. Here's where I start to twitch, because I have visions of this thing toppling over and smashing into a gazillion pieces. It's built so solidly we could probably just pick it up, brush it off and it would be fine. But with his usual finesse, Ed moved it to the porch without a hitch. He set it down right on the dolly. We put plywood on the floor inside the house, and began rolling it into place.
   We had a similar stove at a previous home, and I loved it. We were looking for parts for that stove (not easy to find) when we found out that a convent
nearby was closing and they wanted to sell their stove. I called them right away.
   "Sr. Mary Margaret, how much do you want for that stove?" I asked.
   "Oh, I don't know.....$200?" she said.
    I gasped! "Lock the doors, don't let anybody in but us."
   We'll probably burn in Hell for ripping off the nuns.
   In atonement, and with affection, I've named the stove Sr. Brigit. My hope is to cook many memorable meals with her help.  
   Ed is beginning the tile in the foyer this morning, and I will be in The Dungeon applying varnish to wood.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fingers To The Bone II

 With all the tile down in the laundry/craft room, it was time to break out the grout and begin one of many "favorite" jobs. Ed started with the dog wash because he wanted to get the worst part over first. Me...I usually save the worst for last when I'm tired and crabby anyway.

   Ed smeared the grout in, while my job was to trail behind by about 20 minutes to wipe it down. It didn't take as long as we expected. By the afternoon, we were able to wipe the haze off the tile. Mittens came in to check it out. It's been several weeks since she broke her little foot, and she still holds it up. I say little you can see, she's polydactal (6 toed) and they are pretty sizable. She limps especially hard if anyone goes near the treat bag. Little beggar..
   In retrospect I probably should have picked a grout that was a little darker I chose "A;mond".  I'll seal it  and hope for the best.

 I began the grout-wiping with nice new latex gloves, a nice new sponge, and a clean bucket of water. By the time we were done with the room, the gloves were full of water and in the trash, the bucket of water had been changed about a hundred times, and I had managed to sand the ends off my fingertips. Just a little note: Never, never peel fresh garlic if you have just sanded off the ends of your fingers. It hurts like the dickens.

   I also managed to finish staining the doors this week. We bought stain grade douglas fir Simpson doors. I didn't anticipate such a variance in grain. I used Minwax pretreat first, then Minwax stain. Still, the doors have a much more rustic look than I had expected. But, we're building a home for friends and family, we're not building a mansion, so maybe rustic is what we want. If we were building a mansion, we'd be paying someone else to do all the work!

I've been looking (mostly on-line)  for a few area rugs, and stumbled on a great consignment shop in Astoria. Home Interior Consignments, owned by Kelly Sause, has a great selection of almost-antique furniture and area rugs. The prices are very reasonable so I brought home three.
   For the living room, I found a tribal rug with a very good color match.

  The rug for the family room was made in Nepal. The wool pile is divine, and the center pattern reminds me of southwest Native American pottery designs.

 The rug for the library area is 6' square, give or take a little, and is also a tribal rug.
    The first thing Midnight had to do was inspect the new rugs. This made me a little nervous. Since they weren't new rugs, I was afraid he would smell another cat's scent and decide to assert himself. He walked around them all, sniffed for a few minutes, then settled right in and made himself at home. All's well!
   Ed laughed because he's still in construction mode and I've jumped ahead to moving in. Ok, ok, I'll fold up the rugs and try to be patient.

   While I was shopping for rugs, Ed was doing the real work. He tiled the floor of the upstairs guest room. We'll have to wait a few days to grout...probably just about the time my fingers heal.

   Tomorrow, the first of the cabinets will be delivered. Things are really starting to happen in a hurry.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Working His Fingers To The Bone

    Just for the record, it's still raining, although we did get two days with actual sun this week. It was glorious.
 Woodfloor Masters showed up Tuesday to start putting down the floor. In no time at all they had paper down and flooring spread all over the place. I've not seen professionals put down a floor before, so I didn't know how it's done. They lay it out, very closely together, and then start knocking it in place and nailing it down.

   By Wednesday evening they had the downstairs done. The acacia flooring is just amazing. The nature of the wood is such that none of the pieces are very long. The longest ones are about 48", but the grain is so active that your eye doesn't really focus on the shorter pieces. The crew was good about putting the shortest pieces in a pile and using them where the cabinets and island will go, or in the closets.

   Friday night, both the upstairs and downstairs were finished. The crew wiped down the floor, picked up their trash, gave us a big wave and took off.  Ed and I walked the floor looking at all the different swirls and colors in the grain.
   Saturday morning, I gave the floors a wipe with the swiffer and put down protective paper in the most traveled areas. I tried putting booties on the dog, but if you've ever tried to get mittens on a 3 year old on Christmas Morning, you'll have a good idea of how that went.

   I'm still working in the basement, or as I've re-named it...The Dungeon. By the time I finish daily household chores and get down there to work, I'm good for anywhere between three to four doors a day. I stained three on Thursday, had a road trip for supplies on Friday, and did two yesterday afternoon. Only 13 more to go.

   We need to get the laundry/craft room and bathrooms tiled so we can bring in the first set of cabinets. Ed is the tile setter.  He put 1/4" wonderboard down first. All of the wonderboard and tile is a reminder of why we decided to pay someone else to do the hardwood floor. Everything is tough on either the back or knees.
   After the wonderboard is down, Ed very carefully figured out where his control line was. The first row has to go down perfectly to keep everything else in check, otherwise the tile takes on a life of it's own and winds up all over the place.

      As he was hauling out the first bag of thinset, Ed says "Hey Theresa, where is your Kitchen Aid mixer? I can't find it."
    Now I'm starting to get a lump in my throat because I really like my mixer, but I love Ed. What to do!!??
   "Nah...." he says, "Just kidding."
   That rat!

   Friday morning, the first tile, one of many, went down, and he began his task in earnest.  Friday afternoon he placed the last piece in the laundry room.

  At the end of the day as he was cleaning up he says "Man, the end of my finger is really sore, but I don't remember cutting it."
   As I thought about how he did each tile I realized he buttered the back of the tile, wiped the edges clean of thinset and then placed the tile. Since the thinset is essentially sanded cement, he had literally sanded the skin off the end of his finger. Ouch!
  Saturday he did the floor in the adjacent bathroom, with a bandaid on his finger and a piece of cardboard for cleaning up the edges.

 Monday he'll start on the other bathroom floors. We're hoping to get the grouting done later this next week so we can have the first cabinets delivered the week after.

   In the meantime, I'll be working in The Dungeon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

NOAA's Ark or More Showers

        NOAA says we're completing year two of La Nina, and that the weather should return to normal by the first of June. I'm not putting my boat away any time soon. It's Mother's Day and the forecast calls for rain and thunder all day.
   This week, with 32 hours on the books, I finished staining 3,110 linear feet of wood trim. Not varnished, just stained. We were hoping for a couple of clear windless days to take all the boards outside and spray on the finish. But I just don't see that happening any time soon. My guess is that I'll be applying it by hand. Did I mention the interior door jambs and doors need to be done too?
 Ed has finished the travertine showers. He's going to wait until the floors are down to grout everything at once. Just a caveat for those cutting travertine for the first time: If you have a piece that needs to be cut-and-fit, be sure to check for natural fracture lines before deciding which edge of the tile to cut. Once in a while, that stuff will break like a saltine cracker.

   He's done the walk-in shower downstairs and the guest bathroom upstairs in walnut travertine. Then he moved on to my favorite, the silver travertine, which is in our bathroom. It's delicious. It also doesn't seem to be quite as loose as walnut. By that I mean it seems to be less fractious. I can hardly wait to see it all done with the floor and grout!

  The wood floor installers will be here next week so Ed is trying to get everything up on the ceiling that needs to be there. He installed the speakers for the sound system, smoke detectors, heat detector, spider detector...just kidding on that one.  I was able to get two ceiling fans at Lowe's, and am waiting for two more.

   We have used CFL bulbs where we can. We noticed something odd in the bathrooms. Those bathrooms that were painted Sensational Sand, previously tan/brown, now looked purple. not a bad purple, but definitely not the color we started with.  We had installed "soft white" CFL bulbs, and will be changing them out to "natural sun" to regain the original color.
 Saturday I went to town for groceries and Ed began installing the Steel Partners fixtures for the entryway, kitchen island and dining room. If you buy these lights, consider the size carefully. We ordered the small lights, and they are very substantial. They are beautiful strong statement pieces that will anchor the style of the house. You can see the island light to the left and the dining room light to the right, both still in the process of being installed.

 While out and about yesterday I stopped at a rummage sale, and bought four block prints from the 60's. The artist is noted only as "Ken". The style is pure Craftsman. At $1.00 each I could hardly leave them on the table. I'll  mat and frame them. They'll be perfect.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Weight A Minute!

     While waiting for the hardwood flooring to breathe, we decided to pick up our tile and get started on that. There are two bathrooms with floors and showers, and the foyer in honed walnut travertine, one bathroom with shower and floor in silver travertine, and the craft room floor, dog wash, and bathroom in porcelain tile.
     We took the truck. Ed has a Ford F250 for this very purpose. We drove two hours to Portland where the tile loader-guy took a look and said "We might get half of it in." Which is what happened.  There was plenty of room, but the weight was a killer.
     Once we got home it was way too heavy for the tractor to lift out of the truck so Ed hauled it into the house four pieces at a time.
     The next day he repeated the trip, the load and the work with the rest of it.
 He decided to do all the shower enclosures first, and began with the dog wash/drippy coat area in the craft room. This is the least important shower in the whole house, and a good place for a refresher course.
  One of the first things we learned is that it helps to have the right tools. Our little $40. tile saw has earned it's keep and then some, but it just isn't made to cut 18" porcelain tiles. I bought a Ryobi WS750L. The 1 3/4 HP motor and 7" blade made the cutting a lot faster and cleaner.

   When he was done with this one,  he moved into the downstairs master bath. The travertine is much softer to cut than the porcelain tile, and is also crumblier. Because of the size of the shower (3x5x9) Ed is using 12" tiles for the shower , and will use 18" tiles for the floor.
   We had a bit of a tile emergency. The soap dish fell away and broke in half on impact. This meant another late afternoon trip to Lowe's for a replacement. Between driving time and store time, that's three hours. The replacement got duct taped into place.
   While Ed has been tiling, I've been making one trip after another into town for a variety of things. Closet lights, ceiling fans, but the big stressor was furniture. I spent several hours in the furniture store in Astoria obsessing over fabrics. I finally had to tell myself that the fate of the Free World did not rest on the sofa fabric....or maybe it does....
     I've also been staining the wood trim. I've put in 18 hours so far and have about half the wood stained. Once that's done I'll put two coats of varnish on everything. Then I'll do the doors.
      Friday morning our little (comparatively) cat Mittens got spooked by who-knows-what and took a flying leap off the top of the stair landing to the ground. After watching her limp all weekend, I took her to the vet this morning. She has a little broken bone in her front foot, but since cat-feet bones are really tiny, there's no remedy but rest and time. I have, however, pinpointed part of the problem. Like many of us, a slightly reduced waistline would take a load off. Unfortunately, like many of us, it seems difficult to obtain. Especially when you come upon an unsupervised all-you-can-eat buffet.