Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bathroom Remodeling Update

Since Jeff and I had almost 24 hours of travel time in the car this last week, we had LOTS of time to discuss our remodel plans. We really needed to figure out how to reduce our overall remodel expense. So, difficult as it is to give it up, I think we're going to skip adding the attached master bathroom. The estimate for that one bathroom alone was $50K! Ouch.

Though, we are instead thinking about turning that sleeping porch into a closet, so the estimate won't be reduced by all $50K. But it should be quite a bit less, because we won't need to get plumbing up there. Instead we will, at some point, redo the existing upstairs bathroom, but not until after this remodel. We need at least one operational bathroom when our house is torn up.

During our trip, we did go drop by Fireclay Tile in San Jose. (It was an amazing place!!) And they did have not-quite-white 3"x6" subway tile in the "boneyard." But the tiles seemed to have tiny dark specs under the glazing and I thought it would really bug me. Also the tiles weren't always uniform in size. I'm guessing maybe these particular tiles were seconds and I wouldn't have been happy with the quality. Especially since most of the expense of the installation is likely to be labor.

If we lived closer, we would surely be able to find a good deal, but we're just too far away to count on being able to find a good deal.

There and Back Again

Last Friday, Jeff and I slipped out of town to visit family in California. We actually left earlier than we originally planned because the weather forecast was so bad for Saturday. The drive was really beautiful. You could actually see Mt. Shasta all the way to the top--there was no cloud cover! (That rarely happens.)We had quite the whirlwind of visiting with family and friends. The only thing that managed to slow us down was when we caught colds. But, otherwise, it was a really wonderful visit!

Then, today we risked the drive back up to Portland despite the likely event of snow. We were very lucky and never needed to use the chains. We did hit snowfall four times but the snow was never deep or heavy enough to require chains. The scenery turned out to be really spectacular! Everything is so pretty with a light frosting of snow.I think this is a cinder cone of Shasta, named Shastina. Mt. Shasta was totally obscured by cloud cover and we never saw more than the base.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heading to California

Our neighbor has kindly agreed to open and close our chicken coop for us so we get to slip out of town for a few days to visit family. Yeah!

I've already scheduled an appointment with the prosthetist to take care of my messed-up prosthetic.

And I'm going to be sure and drop in on the Fireclay Tile Boneyard. I'm hoping to find a score for our bathroom shower. I called today and it sounds like they have the perfect cream-colored subway tile down there for $5 a square foot.

We're also trying to squeeze in as many family and friend visits as possible.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our Anniversary!!

Today is our 23rd Wedding Anniversary! We've now been married more years than we weren't.

We had a lovely visit with a friend for brunch and Jeff made a wonderful butternut squash risotto, chicken and vegetables. So good.

Then we took it pretty easy the rest of the day. Jeff took a nap while I worked my way through Bungalow Bathrooms by Jane Powell. Tonight we're watching a documentary about human emotions which is quite good: This Emotional Life.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Very Tempting

We just got a quote from Pasqualle’s Home Remodeling & Construction for stripping all of the paint in the living and dining rooms for just under $9,000. It's very tempting...

When I got home tonight that panel of woodwork had dried out and was actually a bit lighter than the surrounding wood. Oh well, too light is probably better than too dark. =)

We had a nice visit with our friends Wendy and Ross and their family this afternoon. Shasta had some great play time with their dog Jasmine.

Bleached the Wood

I'm so relieved oxalic acid worked at bleaching the wood. When I first put it on, it didn't look like it was working and I was so disappointed. But it turns out the key was to put the solution on and go away and do something else. =)

I also spent about an hour trying to clean paint off knobsets and hinges. We weren't so lucky as some folks. Our door hardware doesn't look to be solid brass. Maybe it was once brass-plated but they look to be in fairly bad shape and mostly black at this point. We may need to go buy new hinges. I'm planning to look into having the knobsets re-plated mostly because the doors are already fitted to this hardware.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Soy-Gel Test Panel

I brushed on the soy gel and left it on for almost two hours and then wiped it off with scratchy pads. It really didn't penetrate the deep layers of paint but did a great job on the top latex layers and the paint residue in the grain of the wood...and now I'm feeling doubly stupid for the mess up yesterday.

I should have tried the soy gel first. I actually had the soy gel—I just needed to go dig around in the basement and find it. So now it looks like we'll actually be able to get quite a lot done this winter without being able to open up for ventilation.

Now I just need to go get some oxalic acid and borax and try and lighten up that panel I darkened yesterday. Hopefully that will work.

I'm rather hoping we can get a good first pass done on the walls this winter. Then, next spring, when we can open up the windows again, we can use the removers that require good ventilation.

I Think I'm Ready... turn our house into a construction zone. I guess we need to start packing again. =)

It's not like we've really gotten settled; and I'm tired of this boxes-piled-all-around phase we're in. This will be interesting as we go through stuff and decide what is going to be packed and put into off-site storage. The hardest part, though, is going to be packing up my sewing room again. I really don't want to—but I think that's the bedroom where we'll need to sleep during the remodel. The current master bedroom is going to be a construction zone as we convert the adjacent sleeping porch into a bathroom.

We met with our architect and designer on Tuesday and they gave us some preliminary dollar amounts and it wasn't good. Looks like with our current plan we are about $100K over budget. So, now we're trying to decide if we proceed as is, or if we shave off parts of the job. I think we'll end up taking off the basement alterations (we were planning to add doors and redo the bathroom down there) and maybe raise the budget some.

We've also been brainstorming about what parts we can do ourselves. Currently, our home remodeling skills are pretty meager. Though, we're pretty motivated and reasonably smart. We could probably learn stuff. I am thinking we can do much of the demolition of the upstairs sleeping porch and kitchen.

And we'll probably end up doing most of the woodwork paint removal. We may call someone in to do the hard parts—like the box beam ceiling—but I think we're going to make a try at doing the woodwork restoration project ourselves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Looks Like We'll Need to Bleach

Well the wood is mostly dry now; l guess I goofed up. Looks like we'll be bleaching the woodwork once we're done stripping the paint.

Maybe an Oops

We've been slowly working on stripping woodwork in our dining room. But our efforts were leaving a residue in the grain of the wood that I was becoming convinced was milk paint.A quick internet search led me to PDE Paint Remover and we went and bought some today. And I could not resist giving it a try.

I think the remover did the job and took off the milk paint. But maybe I should have read the label more closely because I didn't really think much about the part where it said woodwork may darken.
You think! I'm really hoping this is mostly due to the moisture still in the wood and it will lighten back up by tomorrow. I did wipe it down with vinegar—twice!

This will definitely impact our stain choices. Or we may have to bleach the wood when the paint is finally all off.

On the bright side, most of the latex paint scraped off the edges after the wood had dried some and we went back over it with a scraper. Hopefully more pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Latest Kitchen Plan

I spent a couple hours clicking through all 1200+ pages of the Sears catalog. I ended up copying about 63 pages for use when we go remodel shopping this week.

Now that I have time to do something besides study — I'm getting more excited about our remodel! We got the latest kitchen plan from our designer this afternoon, and I'm going through reviewing it. Hopefully our meeting on Tuesday will mostly finalize the overall design, then we have to get down to the specific specs (the picking stuff part).
Ignore those big round lights. They just look wrong. We're getting something much flatter to the ceiling.Looking towards the sink from further back. Shows the view of the side of the refrigerator that we've turned into a shallow cabinet for spice/canning jar storage and the small, inconvenient jog in the wall behind the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Download Craftsman Magazine

I was really excited last night to run across a website where I could download many issues of The Craftsman magazine. I have spent several hours downloading the issues and now I'm browsing through them while I take a movie break this evening.

I wanted to share the link for those who are interested: Internet Archive. Just type "The Craftsman" in the search box and click Go!

I also found a Batchelder tile catalog and a Sears catalog from 1912. Very exciting!

I'm thinking I may spend some time taking the images I like out of the magazine and post them when I have time. Especially if they'll help for our remodel planning.

Alternately, you can look at "The Craftsman" magazine at this University of Wisconsin Digital Collections site. The quality of the scans is a little bit better, but it's a lot more difficult to grab images for personal use.

Finally Done for the Quarter

This quarter just seemed to stretch on forever...but I'm finally done. My final this morning was pretty gruelling, but I think I did okay. The second final was pretty easy because we could use the book.

I should find out next week how I did grade-wise.

School starts again on January 3, so I have three short weeks to get lots done.

Update several days later, after we got our grades:

Both Jeff and I have gotten grades and we managed to get straight As! Yeah. We both worked very hard and have found the workload in our programs at Portland Community College to be far more than we expected. I know I felt like I was back at University.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gorgeous Green Soapstone

Tonight I found some gorgeous green soapstone available from a company in the Sacramento, California area. Geez, I love the stuff; it looks so much like our old Empress Green marble counters in Forest Grove which we both loved! I'm on the hunt now to see if we can get some nice slabs up here in Portland.

Though I should have spent the evening studying, I was feeling really burnt out on school. So, instead I read one of my favorite Bungalow books: Bungalow Kitchens by Jane Powell. I figure all these books are going to do us more good for the remodel if I actually take the time to read the words—not just look at the pictures.

I took almost four pages of notes about how it was done "in period." I'm hoping this is going to help me make some of these hard decisions, as the choices were so vast it was hard to pick. At least my options are being narrowed now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Held Hostage by Chickens

We'd like to go travel down to California later in the month, but with the daily responsibility of opening and closing the chicken house, it's difficult to get away.

Every morning, shortly after 7AM, the chickens start clucking to be let out of their sleeping quarters, then at the end of the day at around dusk, they put themselves back in the house and we close up the ramp. Really, not much responsibility, but someone has to be here to let them in and out, everyday. And finding somebody reliable, and who doesn't cost a lot of money, is proving to be a challenge.

But we have found it worthwhile to have the chickens. Even though we're not talking about money saved here, because we could buy a dozen cage-free organic eggs at Trader Joe's for around $5, it just gives us so much more satisfaction to go retrieve the eggs in the back yard.

Also, our dog has decided that chicken eggs taste yummy. Twice now we have found the evidence of broken shells on the lawn. So, at the moment Shasta has lost her unsupervised backyard access (which really sucks for us too).

So, I think it's time we build a more permanent chicken enclosure. Something where we could just have a neighbor come over and check on the chickens once every few days to make sure they still have water and food. We can still use the chicken tractor when the weather is nice, but having a house will really give us more flexibility to leave for weekends and for vacations.

I'm cruising around the internet for a while today to figure out the best way to build such a thing. While Jeff and I have never built anything like this, I hope this is a project we can successfully take on. I'm hoping to accomplish this project over our too-short winter break.