Sunday, November 28, 2010

Busy Day

Today was one of those amazing days where I got more done in the morning before 11AM than I usually get done in the entire day. I wish I had more of these days.

I spent another 30 or so minutes stripping paint in the dining room. Then, this afternoon I spent a few minutes stripping paint in the living room, because little chips in the paint made it look like the woodwork in there may be darker.

Unfortunately, it is. Bummer. Now we'll either need to use a dark stain in the dining room to make it match, or spend extra effort in the living room trying to lighten up the woodwork. My preference would be to have lighter woodwork, so we’ll probably go with the latter option.

We also spent another hour or so cleaning up the leaves in the front yard. I’m hoping this will be the last of the raking, as the trees are finally starting to look pretty bare.

Then we came in the house and got to work cleaning up the kitchen and then turned around and made it a mess again cooking! =) We made a new cookie recipe—Chocolate-Peppermint Snaps and Jeff put together a soup from turkey broth he made last week. And this evening, as I write this, Jeff is working on a batch of his favorite cookies—Snickerdoodles.

I’m still struggling with motivation to work on school. Most of my final projects are done and now I need to study. I must be broken, because I’d rather do nearly anything else than sit around and study. But I’ve been like this for years; at least I get a lot done during the couple weeks before finals! =)

I did, luckily, manage at least a couple of hours of studying this afternoon when my computer (incorrectly) thought the internet was down. But then Jeff told me his connection was working and a restart of my computer did the trick.

Update at 7PM. This task goes much faster with two people working at it. One person holds the infrared stripper, while the other scrapes the softened paint.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scraped Into the Paint

I know today probably wasn't the best time to start this project, with finals being in a week and all, but the color of the underlying wood has simply been nagging at me. Our countertop choice really depends on how dark this wood is under the paint. If the wood was very dark, I didn't want to also go with a dark countertop, like soapstone. So, I'm encouraged by what we found.

This started out as a solo project, but then Jeff got caught up in my enthusiasm too and starting helping out. This was maybe a half-hour of work.

We had a skinny linen dresser in this spot, and I figured we could just put it back to hide the spot, but now that we've seen the paint will partially scrape off with the Silent Paint Remover, we'll probably keep going. We're obviously going to need another pass with chemicals, but it's too cold to open up the house for ventilation, so we'll have to content ourselves with this result for another couple of months. In spring we can bring in some of the evil, but effective, chemical removers.

Today, though, we have to do schoolwork. Jeff has two large projects he needs to finish by next Friday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exterior Colors Inspiration

I guess I like yellow paint, because this will be the third house I've painted yellow! I found a couple of pictures that I think I want to use as our exterior inspiration.

This wonderful picture is from the Old House Colors website. This house appears to be "The Sunshine" kit house made by Aladdin Homes.

This photo dates from 1911 and is copied from Robert Schweitzer's Bungalow Colors book.

We're expecting to have to reroof the house because the existing roof wasn't put on very well and is leaking. I'm hoping we'll be able to find a green roofing material.

Master Bathroom Planning

I'm really struggling with planning the new master bathroom in our 1912 Craftsman. I should just put in a bathroom like this, but I don't really like vast expanses of white or a lot of grout. (This 1912 photo was liberated from Paul Duchschere's Inside the Bungalow. An awesome book, BTW.)

So, I find myself in a dilemma. How historically accurate am I going to be? I have literally been combing through my pile of Bungalow books and the internet for weeks trying to find acceptable alternatives.

The best option I've found so far is this bathroom which I've pulled from the Bungalow Bathrooms book by Jane Powell.

Though, we still have the problem with how to finish the shower. We cannot use wood beadboard in the shower, and that leaves some sort of solid surface or tile. (Or maybe we'll just go with a more budgetary fiberglass shower.) I still don't have an answer to this one. I hope our contractor can help us figure it out.

I'm also trying to decide what to do about the floor as well. I found this basketweave tile at a pretty inexpensive source in Portland. I'm hoping this will work for the bathroom, and won't be too small, because it's a period pattern and a good color scheme for our plans.

I'm also considering a more period option: ceramic hex tile. My main hesitation is the expense. This tile is more than twice as expensive than the locally-available tile and we're already spending way more than we should on this project.

I believe I have at least chosen fixtures for the bathroom: St. Thomas Creations, the Barrymore line. They look historic to my eye and come in a variety of sizes. Unless they're ridiculously expensive, we'll probably just go with them because I'm tired of looking.

Though, I'd really like a pillbox toilet like the photo above, but the company that used to make it, Sunrise Specialty, doesn't seem to be making it anymore. (It's still on their website--but not in the latest catalog.) That's too bad, because that's where we got the pull-chain toilet last time and we really liked it. But a pull-chain toilet won't work in this house, because there's going to be a window above the toilet.

Schoolwork All the Day Long

While I am thrilled most of my teachers cancelled class this week, I am far less thrilled they also seemed to assign extra work over the break, because I guess we have so much free time.

Today I spent literally all day (9AM until now) working on my Legal Software class. I've been working on the final project which is to learn how to use the SmartDraw program. It's actually a pretty neat program, but too expensive to buy without more of a reason to use it.

These are the documents I made this week with this program. At least I'm having fun with this project.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our First Snow of the Season

Shasta saw snow for the first time last night. She was really cute, jumping all about trying to catch the snow flakes.
We don't have much accumulation, but it is quite cold out there. Luckily neither one of us has to go anywhere. Though, I'm hoping to make it out for at least a couple of hours to go shopping for flooring material for new kitchen and bathroom.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bring on the HazMat Team

I crawled into the attic with my Dad this morning and took a good look around. Long term, there is definitely not much room to do anything but store some boxes up there. We have a pretty crazy roof line and we've got all these perpendicular angles and support beams in the way. Though, when we get there, we'll welcome the mostly dry storage space for our paper records.

Anyway, I took a look around and found unopened bags of the insulation up there. There isn't a lot of "insulation" but there's enough that we have to deal with it in order to rewire the knob and tube electrical and add plumbing for the new bathroom (and replace the old plumbing as needed).

The unopened bag identified the stuff as "Wards Expanded Mineral Fill Insulation." A google search on that led me to a number of class action lawsuits and Vermiculite and a bummer conclusion: More than likely it's going to have to be professionally removed by a HazMat team. (Sigh, there goes the budget.)

It also looks like they started hauling sawdust up there to insulate. Nice.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wish We Could Keep Them!

I am amazed every time my Dad and stepmother, Maxine, visit how much we get done when they're here. I wish we could keep them!

Current tally thus far this visit:
  • Dad fixed the furnace within the first hour of arriving!
  • Dad managed to adjust the seal on the dishwasher door so it's not leaking anymore (so we can probably limp through until we remodel next spring);
  • This morning Jeff, Maxine and I cleaned up the rest of the leaves in the front yard;
  • Maxine cleaned up most of the walnut tree leaves on the side of the house;
  • Maxine edged the front lawn and swept everything in the front (the front porch has never looked so good);
  • Dad (with a tiny bit of help from me) snaked the upstairs bathroom sink (which is now draining great!);
  • Dad cleaned the drain in the upstairs bathtub (and figured out we couldn't snake the line from within the house);
  • Dad installed a new deadbolt on the side door then rekeyed the deadbolt on the front door to match;
  • Maxine has pretty much not stopped cleaning since she arrived;
  • I cleaned up the walnut tree leaves in the backyard;
  • Jeff scraped off the excess dirt then pressure washed the back walk;
  • Dad has been going around fine-tuning the doors so they'll close correctly and the locks with latch; plus
  • Several hours of shopping for tools and equipment.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mia is Home

Thanks to my Dad—again—Mia is back up in Oregon. Yeah!

These are not the best pictures, unfortunately, but we'll get some better ones later.

Current pet tally: 1 spoiled dog, 1 double yellow headed amazon parrot, and 3 chickens! Still taking interviews for a rabbit, but we're not in a rush. I'll probably wait until next spring.

Oh, and my Dad figured out how to fix the furnace. The pilot light orifice was plugged. He took it all apart and got it cleared and we now have heat!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kitchen & Bath Floor Plans

I just can't resist... It's probably not cool to post these before we've actually signed a construction contract (we only have a design agreement), but I'm just bulging with excitement that we're approaching a plan! And, quite a few of the elements in the arrangement were my idea; it was a bit of a group effort. We should have full elevations next week!
This kitchen plan expands the kitchen into the adjacent breakfast nook/finished porch. It also moves the wall to give the half-bath on the main floor a bit more space. Right now that bathroom is barely wider than the 24" door.

I am still pondering finishes like the sink and range hood. I'm tempted to go with copper. I found these two items that are calling to me. The sink is sold by The Copper Depot; the range hood by The Metal Peddlar.

Though, I'm concerned if I go with copper, I'm going to want to use it everywhere else too, i.e. knobs, hinges, etc. I have a matchy matchy problem. I'm currently trying to persuade myself that it's OK to use brass or stainless everywhere else.

We're also going to add a bathroom in a finished sleeping porch adjoining the master bedroom that we're currently using to store unpacked clothing boxes.
This is the current plan for the new master bath, pictured with the adjacent (existing) bathroom because we're going to punch through its wall to add a linen closet. The sink area is going to look something like this bathroom. The cabinets on either side of the sink will be shorter, though; probably not much taller than the sink itself.

I really wanted the toilet on the other wall, facing the window, but it is not to be. The fireplace chimney is in the way of where we would need to run up the plumbing. This arrangement will have to do.

In addition to these two rooms, we're also making a few changes in the basement, like punching a door out to the backyard. And, upstairs, we're going to finish the second sleeping porch into a laundry room/storage area. And, of course, one of the main goals: All of the main floor woodwork will get its white paint stripped off! I can hardly wait.

Plumbing Repaired

...but unfortunately we now have a hole in the wall in the one bathroom we were hoping NOT to remodel! Indeed, this is probably the bathroom we'll be using while living in the house during the renovation.

I was going to hire my own plumber, but since we've already hired a remodel company, our contractor just sent out one of his subcontractors to fix it for us.

The pipe they replaced was pretty gross. It was cracked and plugged and quite the mess. In fact, we still need to snake the rest of the line, but at least the sink is operational and NOT leaking out the living room ceiling. =)

This is the first time I had a plumber come out who didn't have a snake in his truck, but I guess this plumber normally just installs new bathrooms and doesn't normally fix them. He asked if we wanted him to come back and snake the line, but we decided to buy the snake ourselves as we'll no doubt need one with the cranky plumbing in this house. Hopefully my father can help us learn how to use it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Jeff!

Today is Jeff's 44th Birthday!

We went out for dinner at a new place we've never been: Soluna Grill. The food was delicious.

For a starter we had Apple-butternut Bisque (bleu cheese, crisped bacon spaetzle, sage oil)

For dinner, Jeff had Gorganzola & Rosemary Ravioli (Braised autumn greens, roasted heirloom beets, toasted hazelnuts, beet-balsamic syrup) and I had Pan Roasted Salmon (Goat cheese mashed potatoes, broccolini, merlot butter, walnut bread stick).

Jeff also had Peach and Calimyrna Fig Crisp (Blackstrap rum sabayon) for dessert.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Impressed with Soapstone

Jeff and I are trying to spend at least some time every Tuesday shopping/selecting items for our remodel. It spreads out the task and makes it much more pleasant. Right now, we don't have any deadlines looming which force us to make a choice quickly so we can carefully consider our options. Today we went and looked at stone slabs; first at Intrepid Marble & Granite then Pental Granite & Marble.

Today, we specifically went to look at Soapstone and Empress Green Marble. Neither businesses had/seemed to carry the marble anymore, despite it being shown on their website. (Bummer; that was my favorite when we remodeled our Forest Grove house. ) As for the soapstone, I understand it was among the options people used in the early 1900s. It was not common by any means, but at least it was available and may have been used.

Intrepid had a couple of nice slabs. They didn't picture very well, unfortunately. The slabs are shiny because they mist them down with water to imitate the effect of oiling and so you can see the grain pattern.

Pental only had one interesting slab but they did give us some pieces of soapstone to take home with us. We're looking forward to playing with them.My one fear of selecting soapstone is it will be too dark in our fairly small kitchen. We also looked at an "antiqued" granite that was quite nice and would likely blend well with some butcher block countertop. The slab looks washed-out in the large picture; the correct color is in the small photo.

It's going to be a pretty tough decision.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Improvised Nest Box

Our poor chickens have been having a horrible time trying to figure out where to lay their eggs. Their coop has nest boxes, but they sleep in them, so I guess they don't understand we want them to lay their eggs there.

Over the last few weeks, they've laid their eggs in a variety of places throughout the yard: on the lawn, tucked under ferns, in the leaf pile and on our back deck. So, I decided the other day to try improvising a quick nest box out of a cardboard box and, after a couple days, it finally worked!

We've had at least two eggs everyday since they figured it out. We've now added a couple more cardboard nest boxes and we'll try to make something more permanent when we finish school next month.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Time to Find a Plumber

Earlier this evening I ran the water in the sink in the upstairs bathroom and by the time the water was warm, the sink had nearly filled up. Then, when I went downstairs a while later, I heard a dripping noise. I thought it was water dripping into the fireplace from the chimney because it was raining outside, but it wasn't. It was water dripping in from the ceiling below the upstairs bathroom. I guess we need to deal with this bathroom before the remodel. Sigh.

And with the rain, we've now confirmed the roof over the driveway is leaking. So we also need to deal with that roof problem. It may already be too late to bother because who knows how many years it has been leaking. That wood may very well be so rotted it will have to be replaced. More fun.

On the remodel front, Jeff and I went shopping yesterday evening and he picked out his stove; a BlueStar RNB. So now we have chosen the major kitchen appliances. We're not sure if we'll get the oven in black or this bottle green. They actually offer 190 different colors; it will be tempting to see if we can match it to our backsplash tile or mosaic. We're also going with the Miele Diamante fully integrated dishwasher and the Subzero fully integrated refrigerator. (Fully integrated means we'll be able to add a wood panel to the front of both appliances).

Even though it's going to be a while before demo starts, the remodel is starting to feel real.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Our tree-lined street is so pretty right now. Too bad I didn't take a picture about a week ago — before we had two days of steady wind that brought a lot of the leaves down.

This afternoon we finally had an opportunity to go out and clean up the front yard. Since it was so was nice out, we also grabbed the leaves from in front of a couple of our neighbors' houses; they make great mulch.

The chickens also had fun rooting around in the pile.

Buffy and Anya have been great layers this week. Now that we've got their hiding spot figured out, we're gathering the eggs before they get damaged or dirty.