Friday, July 29, 2016

I Should Be Sewing

I really wanted to finish recovering my couches by now, but every time I walk up to my sewing room and sit down to sew, I just don't feel like doing it. I've been on a bit of a Netflix binge, but I am trying to come up with another productive activity I feel like doing. I've been thinking about working on a cross stitch project I started a very long time ago (more than 15 years).

It's called "The Storyteller" and was designed by Teresa Wentzler. Teresa's projects are extremely complex and you cannot be watching TV at the same time. Most of the colors are actually one strand of two different colors and many "squares" on the fabric are actually made up of two half-squares. I think I'll give this a shot and see if I can get into it. This is a beautiful project, I'd love to finally finish it. Here is where I'm at:
This is what the finished project looks like (stolen from this website):
We're also working on cleaning house -- really cleaning house -- because Jeff has invited a group of friends to visit in a week and we want the house to look nice. It's gotten to be a mess during our ongoing remodel projects.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wheelbarrow Path Finished

This past weekend Jeff and Aaron worked hard to finish the wheelbarrow path and a swale in the backyard. Excuse the photos, they didn't turn out very well because of the shadows from the pergola. And they covered up the path with plastic again, so I can't take more yet.
Jeff also added a swale at the bottom of the yard, next to this path. The swale is there to collect excessive rain water during the winter, when we need it. Since we disconnected our downspouts a few years ago, we need to manage all of our rainfall on site.
Here are more photos, for those who are interested.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bathroom Progress

Barrett finally came out last Friday and finished grouting the bathroom tile. I should have taken photos, but I didn't have my camera with me. I think there are a couple more tiles I'd like to have him adjust, but for the most part, he's done. FINALLY. It has been a long haul on this project.
This week Jeff and Eric installed the lights on either side of the medicine cabinet, the brackets for the shelves in the medicine cabinet and they hung the door.
They installed brackets in the medicine cabinet to install shelves
The door is installed!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tile Class

After playing with tile some, we thought it would be fun to look into making some tiles from scratch. It would be nice to do something for the upstairs bathroom, over the fireplace, or as a backsplash over the oven.

The first day was working the clay before the first firing: greenware.  We rolled out slabs, cut out tiles, imprinted patterns, and learned other techniques that could be used before firing the first firing.
The second day was about decorating once-fired clay: bisque. We worked with two classes of techniques. The first was color on color where you first cover the whole tile with two coats of glaze, then apply pigments on tope of that base layer. 

The second worked directly on the bisque tile by laying down lines with a mix of was and pigmented glaze. Then the remaining areas can be glazed. Since the glaze won't adhere to the wax, the glaze will sort of mound up and create a three dimensional effect.

The class included firing both the greenware we played with, and the bisque work. So in a week or so, we'll be able to see how they turned out.

Update: We never heard from Georgie's that the practice tiles were finished, so about 8 weeks later, when we were driving by, we dropped in and asked for them. We were informed they threw them away. Apparently, they only keep them for 4 weeks. I was pretty disappointed. It would have been nice if they had called before tossing them out.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Porch Masonry Project

This is how the bricks looked when we moved into this house in 2006.
I believe there used to be a set of brick steps here that were removed, but I could find nothing in any pictures I've been able to find. This also would have been a good spot to step into a wagon, though this neighborhood was built just as cars were coming into use (1910s). So, we don't really know what the original design looked like. With the width of modern cars, however, the stairs really don't fit so we didn't restore them.

Shortly after moving in, we hired A Better Chimney to repoint the bricks and also repair this bad patch. This is how it looked when they finished.
Much better, but we still had a step that dropped about 2 feet to the driveway. It was unsafe. So, last summer, when we wanted to install a charging station for Jeff's plug-in hybrid, we decided to get it fixed. We hired A Better Chimney again, but this time it didn't go so well.

Pedro came out and tore it all apart, but then he disappeared for weeks and weeks. I had to constantly pester him to come out and make progress. It turns out he was diagnosed with cancer and wasn't really able to work on this project, but we had a large hole into our basement all winter.
Finally, sometime this spring—after much prodding— he finished installing all the bricks. 
A couple months ago I got in a fight with Pedro and he hasn't spoken to us since or come out to finish the project, so we have realized he decided to abandon the job.

The black plastic package at the base of the wall is supposedly the cement cap for the top. I guess we'll try to figure out if we can finish this. I don't particularly care for the color of the new bricks as they really don't match, but we could not easily find a better match. I am going to explore brick dye and see if we can improve the color. (I've already bought samples to test.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Refrigerator Panel Broke

Looking at this thing, it's actually surprising it held on so long because it was attached with staples!! And the door handle was just screwed into the wood, and not into the metal frame, so every time we pulled the refrigerator door open, it was slowly pulling out the staples. Not cool. It will be interesting to see if Craftsman Design & Renovation is going to fix this for us.
Barrett (our tile guy) still sucks. He originally said he'd be here at 2PM, but then he wrote later asking if he could start work today after 5PM. I said No. I'm tired of him taking advantage of us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wheelbarrow Path

Jeff and Aaron made short work of digging out the wheelbarrow path today. They got a layer of gravel down before they had to wrap up for the day. Sadly, I missed the photo opportunity before they covered it up with plastic to keep the dogs off of it.
Aaron is going out of town for more than a week, so Jeff will likely take this opportunity to rest up a bit. Landscape work will resume in a couple of weeks.

I still haven't taken pictures of the bathroom; I should do that. I finally varnished the woodwork over the weekend. As expected, the tile guy's one week absence turned into two weeks. He came out today I thought to finish, but I looked back a while later and he was gone. He fixed a few crooked tiles, but nothing was grouted. Sigh. I guess we'll see if he comes back tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Backyard Stairs Finished

Hooray for this absolutely perfect weather we've been having. Except for some yard clean up, the stairs are mostly done.
It's great to have yet another project finished. Most of the time today was picking up the 2 loads of gravel.
They put in 3/4 minus gravel and tamped it
Then they put in and tamped a layer of sand
They finished up with a thick layer of quarter minus gravel
I believe, the top layer of gravel is dark like that because it is wet. It will probably be light grey once it dries out.

Next up, the guys will be moving more dirt to put in a wheelbarrow path down to the lower yard.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Backyard Stairs Progress

Aaron and Jeff made more progress on the backyard stair project today. They couldn't finish it because they need to buy gravel for it on Monday, when they're open again.
I took a few process photos for those of you interested.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you all have a great Independence Day! We don't have anything special planned, but we'll have a nice meal and enjoy our wonderful weather.

The girls like hanging out supervising Daddy's activities.
Our friend, Storm, has been giving us ferns dug up from her new yard. For now, we're mostly putting them all in the rain gardens. Once the hardscape in the yard is more finished, we'll probably relocate some of them.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pavers Installed!

Jeff and Aaron worked the last two days installing the pavers in our back patio. Yesterday they worked at putting in the rest of the gravel and then spreading the sand. Later in the afternoon, our block had a block party. I didn't think to bring my camera and take pictures, but there was a great turnout. I'm not sure I've seen that many neighbors outside at once. The weather was gorgeous.

Today, they resumed where they left off. They spread out the sand fairly evenly then tamped it.
At the beginning, Jeff carefully laid out each paver and carefully set it.
Then somewhere along the line, they decided to just fill up the whole patio space and then work on spacing, sloping and setting the pavers. There was about a 2" gap along the edge using the pavers as is, so they decided to just add a piece of wood to fill the gap so we wouldn't have to spend a lot of time cutting them.
Jeff sloped the floor down to the edges, so water will hopefully flow off the patio when it rains. About an hour of fussing later, they started filling the gaps with sand to permanently set the pavers.
The bricks look a little grey right now because they're wet. They sprayed it all down to help settle the sand into the gaps between the pavers. They're also still a little dirty. We'll try and clean them more tomorrow.