Saturday, March 30, 2013

Aladdin Kit Homes

Today, I had an opportunity to help a neighbor find appropriate color schemes for her English cottage style home, so I found myself poking through old Aladdin catalogs again. I just love to dig through old kit home catalogs. I found a website that allows users to download old Aladdin catalogs here.

As usual, I took screenshots of the ones in color I liked the best and I'm sharing them here. (Because this post is going to have a ton of pictures in it, I'm going to insert a page break so you'll have to load the post if you want to see them all.)
Aladdin Kit Home, "The Cadillac," 1917
Aladdin Kit Home, "The Champion," 1920
Aladdin Kit Home, "The Detroit," 1922 (same coloration as 1919 catalog)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Fever

We had absolutely fantastic weather today. Too nice to spend cleaning up the basement. =)

A couple days ago we went out to the garage and tried to work on routing the closet boards, but the garage was such a mess we ended up spending the afternoon rearranging and cleaning up the garage instead. And we still haven't made it back out there to finish the job. I think we have a bit of spring fever.

I spent today enjoying the beautiful spring day with the windows thrown open, cleaning up my sewing room. I finished up a number of old projects that were lying around and continued working on some more of the linen runners.

I've got more pieces ready to be stenciled and I was in a much better frame of mind this time. Though, that linen can be a little trying at times. It is so difficult to get it cut straight and sewn straight. It seems no matter how careful I am, the runners never turn out just as I was hoping.

Oh, I also broke down and bought the Silhouette Cameo yesterday. We've sold a bunch of stuff on craigslist lately so I felt like I could justify the purchase. It's been shipped but I haven't received it yet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Red Dragon is Coming

In our continuing trend of bouncing around from project to project, Jeff went out this afternoon and cleared a patch in the front planter for a new tree. We had a bunch of gross roses out there that probably had grown out from the root stalk so they were awful (very thorny and barely any flowers). I'm glad to see them gone.

Instead, we'll have an ornamental hazelnut tree.
Red Dragon (corylus avellana contorta) contorted filbert tree, 8 years.
Of course when we get it on Wednesday, it will look more like this.  It will take 8 years to look like the trees above. =)
I'm a sucker for purple plants so when I found this last summer, I needed one and I wrote the nursery. They've written back and they're just now selling them.

This variety of hazelnut tree is supposed to be immune to filbert blight. It will add a bit of winter color to our front yard as it shows catkins during winter. And we may get a few hazelnuts as a bonus.
Birkemeier Farms is selling them right now and I'm gonna get one! We're picking it up on Wednesday.

Jeff has also gotten his garden started this year. These are carrots and radishes he planted a week or two ago.
I'll also be picking up a few starts this coming weekend at the Multnomah County Master Gardeners Early Spring Edibles Sale. It was mostly pre-order, but they're going to have some extra stock to sell on Saturday and I'll go poke around and see if there is anything we want to pick up.

Update on Thursday, it was indeed more of a twig when he got it home. If not for the tag, you probably couldn't pick it out in the picture at all. But hopefully it will be tall and beautiful in 8 years!
Thank you Jeff for planting it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sunny Day

I was wishing for a sunny day and I got one. Yippee! We made an (unphotogenic) dumps run this afternoon. It's amazing how much garbage got left behind in the basement and yard by the contractors (lots of plastic). We've been cleaning that kind of stuff up and we brought in some household waste from our basement clean up.

I also went out this afternoon and sanded up the fir from yesterday's planing adventure. My goal at this point was to remove whatever dirt and paint was remaining on the boards. I was pretty successful, though there are a few that have paint embedded in spots. I sanded those as best I could and decided to leave the rest. We learned earlier our stain combo does an excellent job of covering paint spots.
Had I bought wood specifically for this project, I would have gotten wood without knots. But this wood was a total bargain and I can live with the knots, especially in the closet.
This pile of 17 boards was surely less than $50 worth of wood out of the whole stack. We spent $30 more getting them planed. We'll have to spend a bit more on another can of stain. But I believe these closet built-ins will cost under $100 for the hanging areas of our closets plus the shelves in Jeff's closet. (This doesn't include the rods or rod sockets, which I've already purchased but I don't recall their exact cost. I'll have to figure that out once we finish.)

Our plan calls for 16-inch deep boards, so now we need to edge join these and cut them down to size. I bought tongue and groove router bits, so we're going to try our hand at using those in the next few days.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pinterest: Craftsman Junky

A Pinterest Achievement, of a sort: 50,000 followers!

I originally joined pinterest in November 2011 (thank you Ashley for the invite) to keep track of all the neat websites I found in the course of researching our renovation. Then I got very addicted and spent way too many hours finding new Craftsman/Bungalow related links. (I totally lost December 2011.)

I have now, in the last year, achieved a reasonable balance. I allow myself to play in Pinterest at night when we're in front of the TV. I mostly stay away from pinterest during the day, unless I'm pinning websites with information for the project(s) we're currently working on.

I have certainly seen folks with lots more followers—I saw someone with 4 million once—but I'm content to play in my little bungalow and craftsman niche. I'm still surprised I have as many followers as I do.

Commercial Shops Rock!

We had the best experience planing our wood over at Willow Classic Woodworking this afternoon. Commercial-size planers and jointers rock! And, of course, Eric Marriott at Willow Classic Woodworking is awesome for helping us clean up this wood.

We arrived a couple minutes after 1PM with our dirty pile of wood.

And about 30 minutes later we had planed both sides of the boards and ran one edge over his commercial jointer. Most boards only required one pass on each side. It was amazing!

So, for $30—less than the cost of new blades for our little DeWalt planer—we got to clean up these boards. Now they look respectable enough to get installed inside our closets. I am so thrilled with how this worked out.

I tried to take a couple pictures of the process, but of course all I got was pictures of suspended dust with blurry people in the background. Oh well. We'll have to content ourselves with the after pictures of the cleaned up wood.

There are still a few spots of dirt left on some of the boards, but we'll catch those with a hand sander.
The stack ready to go out the door.
One board had an amazing burl pattern. We might have to save this for something special.
Next up, need to find a place to finish sanding this wood. I might just do it outside in the driveway if we get some sunny weather for several hours this weekend.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sorry, Old Cherry Tree

We didn't have one of our better days today; we got barely anything done. Tomorrow we have an appointment to go plane the wood. This afternoon I did manage to scan all the cut pieces with our little wizard metal detector so we'd be ready to go plane. (I'm excited I sold the Silent Paint Remover today, so now we have some cash to fund our shop time tomorrow.)

I actually had been hoping to go cut some more wood pieces for our basement project, but with our weird weather today and our lack of motivation, we didn't have the energy to go unbury the saw and dig through the huge pile o' fir. I'm really hoping the planing session will go well and we'll be able to go back with another pile in a few weeks. 

We've also started getting quotes to remove our diseased cherry tree in the backyard. It's a little tragic, because it's a huge tree and Shasta loves to jump up into it, but it is half dead and continues to die back.
Shasta's favorite place to hunt squirrels
The huge branch on the right is totally dead (no green at all)
And the trunk isn't in great shape either. 
We've been procrastinating on this one because it was a fine old tree, but if we're going to build a coop down there we need to deal with the danger of dropping limbs. So sad. I wish we could save it, but it's probably better if we just take it out and get a new tree started in its place as soon as possible.

We'll probably leave a large piece of the trunk lying in the backyard to make a "nurse log." It will slowly decompose and create habitat for beneficial insects—and ferns (my favorite).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Basement Muck Out

We spent several hours today trying to clean and organize the basement. While we made progress, it was way too slow and we didn't finish nearly as much as I was hoping. Progress is really slow because I'm determined to sort as we go and not just move this mess to another area of the house or garage.

I'm always a little reluctant to show pictures of the basement—it was totally a mess. And even after many hours of effort, it's still a mess. Just less of one.

The front storage area was quite the disaster area. During the remodel we stowed an awful lot of misc. boxes in there. Plus we had the movers bring stuff back in December and some of that was piled in there too. Here's how it looked when we started today.
By the end of the day, it looked like this. All organized and swept, but still messy looking.
We pulled out all of the misc boxes to sort. We also pulled out any boxes that belonged to other areas of the house and could be unpacked. And we organized the racks and filled any spaces with packed tubs from the family room area.

We had a pallet leftover from when our living room furniture was shipped to us. Jeff added a bit more wood for support and he used it as a place to stack up the packed books from the left side of the basement. (We shouldn't have brought these back from storage in December, but I didn't realize we'd be doing this family room project now.)

Our current plan is to cram as much stuff as we can into this front storage area for the next couple of months while we finish the family room, and then we won't have to haul everything out to our paid storage and then back again. And we won't clutter up the garage during the project. It would be nice to have some space out there to work.

The left side of the basement looked like this when we started.
Here is where we're at after our day of effort. Marginally better, but still a lot of work ahead of us. Ugh.
Our living room, unfortunately, looked like this by the time we stopped working downstairs. We have sorted through a few boxes since taking this picture, but we've got a couple more to go.
I think we'll have to have a garage sale this spring since we no longer get financial benefit from donations. (You have to have income to get the benefit from a write-off.) I so much prefer the donation route, but we'd be better off with a few bucks cash than a worthless paper receipt.

Update the next day: We sifted the misc. boxes in the living room. It sort of sucked, but we did it and the mess is mostly contained into one pile ready for a garage sale or donation, which we have to find a place to stash. Jeff is a real trooper and just kept opening those awful boxes which I didn't feel like doing.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Commercial Shop Time

We went and bought two cute windows for the shed/coop project from Eric in SE Portland this afternoon. They're a real nice size, I think. They do need cleaning up and reglazing, but they were a pretty good deal off craigslist.

When we picked them up, Eric brought us into his "shop" in his backyard. It was quite the woodworking shop; he had a commercial planer that was probably bigger than a smart car. I'm sorry I didn't ask to take a picture, but it seemed a little tacky. He runs a business, called Willow Classic Woodworking, which apparently makes custom doors, windows and millwork.

We got to talking to him about planing painted wood and he said he runs painted wood through his machine all the time. It's apparently a workhorse and he can just open it up to clean and sharpen the blades in place. Anyway, the point of this paragraph was to tell you that I'm excited we found a place to plane down all that salvaged fir wood we scored last fall. He's going to charge us $60 an hour to come use his planer. I don't have to strip the paint! Woo hoo!

We'll have to cut down the long pieces because his shop isn't big enough to plane 18' pieces of wood, but really we'd have to cut them down anyway for transport. So, we're going to try and get all the pieces gathered for our closet and basement projects and haul it all to his house later this week. Maybe we will be able to make some progress on our closet project this month after all. (I had sort of given it up when I thought I'd have to strip the paint first.)

Tomorrow, however, we're planning a big basement sift.

New Chicken Coop Plan

Last year I designed a cute little chicken coop.
It was cute and probably would have worked, but it really only housed the chickens. We've decided we could really use some extra space for chicken and rabbit stuff, i.e. tubs of feed and litter, so Jeff doesn't have to keep tromping through the yard to the garage or basement to get them food everyday.

When I was cruising around the internet, I ran across this cute shed at the Family Handyman website.
It's so perfect! The brackets and roof slope are the same as our house. Though, I'm going to rearrange the door and windows a bit, and definitely use salvage. And we'll probably not bother with the cupola on the roof. Hardly anybody will see it as it will be tucked way back in the backyard.

I'd also like to put up a dividing wall down the center so it will be half-shed, half-chicken coop. Then we'll put a door on each end, or one on the end and one on the interior wall; I'm not sure of the details yet. It's probably going to depend on what salvage we find for this project.

I got motivated to start a sketchup file Saturday night when Jeff was off at game night, and then I continued to work on it on Sunday; it's hard to stop halfway. The file still needs some work, but this is basically what I was thinking.

For this SketchUp project, I tried planning it from the framing out, but then when I got to the siding I could not figure out how to put on the outer siding layer, so I basically just ended up "painting" the plywood sheets with the siding color.

We're planning to use leftover siding and shingles and whatever salvage we have at home and we'll scrounge for the rest. Though, we might have to call in some help for the framing; it's probably too complicated given our lack of experience.

One of the fun things about using Sketchup is the opportunity to play with different views.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Packing Again

Hopefully this is nearly the last time for a very long time, but we are packing again.

This time—the basement family room. All the bookshelves are emptied and the books have been boxed for the duration of the project or transported to other bookcases throughout the house. I packed the movies tonight. And now we need to deal with some of the remaining loose stuff. A few more good hours and we'd be nearly done.

This time, I'm trying not to end up with a bunch of semi-miscellaneous boxes and to really sift.  I've listed a bunch of stuff on craigslist today, including our Silent Paint Remover.

We're working on cleaning up so many different areas at once and I really don't want to disaster the rest of the house while moving out of the basement. It's possible some of it will go off to storage for the duration of the basement project so we can get it out of the way.

We also finished gluing the boards for our closet project. At the moment, we're trying to use the salvaged fir I bought a while back, but some of the pieces have thin cracks through them. We're gluing those up before we try cleaning them up.

I was originally planning to run these through the planer next, but I've now read enough comments about paint ruining planer blades that I think I'll try to strip most of the paint off first. It's going to be tough, though, because it's a rough finish. We'll see. If it goes very poorly we'll try to plane one. And if that doesn't work, we'll go back to the original plywood plan.

I would have started stripping the boards today, but I could not find the chemical stripper. Sigh. It got cleaned up when we moved upstairs and it is nowhere to be found. I might have to go buy another gallon since I'll eventually need it for the sewing room anyway.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2013 Project List

We've spent some time this week reevaluating our project plans for the year. Looking back at last Fall's list, we seem to have departed significantly from where I thought we'd be headed. We did little on the list, besides finishing our bedrooms. The basement just ended up being a huge detour from my master plan. Oh well, that's how we roll.

Since we're having another big event this summer, we decided to break the list out for pre-event projects and post-event projects.

Before the end of June we're hoping to finish.
  1. Basement family room finishing
  2. Plan/Install master bedroom closet interiors
  3. Install backyard path
  4. Plant garden
  5. Empty storage
After June, we're hoping to turn our attention to:
  1. Plan and build side fence
  2. Plan and build raccoon/rat-safe chicken coop
  3. Put in rain barrel behind garage
  4. Plan and build pergola at back patio
  5. Clean bricks and install back patio
  6. Prime/Paint/Stain basement bathroom
  7. Install flooring/fixtures in basement bathrooom
  8. Reupholster morris chairs
  9. Plan master bathroom remodel
We surely won't get through all of these in late-summer and fall, but we've found it's good to have choices. Usually at least something gets done.

These are the projects from the fall list that we actually managed to finish.
  1. Stain woodwork in Sharon's closet
  2. Prime and paint master bedroom and closets
  3. Refinish floor in guest bedroom
  4. Strip paint in entryway
  5. Sand entryway woodwork
  6. Stain & Shellac entryway and upper hall woodwork
  7. Refinish floors on stairway and upper hall
I've dropped the rest of the projects from the list, for now. I'm trying to keep us focused.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Basement Scheming

So, I finished our taxes and found we now have a small budget for our basement spruce up. Not enough to call a contractor and make it happen, but enough that we don't have to do everything ourselves. Hooray!

I've spent a fair amount of time the last several days educating myself about the options for finishing the space. Neither one of us has a background in any kind of trade that helps up do this kind of work. The closest I ever came to learning how to fix a house is watching my Dad teach my three brothers how to do stuff. (In fairness to my Dad, I wasn't interested in these kinds of projects at the time.) So, I'm approaching this project as one with barely a clue.

I had been thinking we might try to level the floor with a self-leveling mortar, but it turns out we would have to strip the paint off the floor first. That won't be happening this year. So, we're back with trying to find another solution. Sigh.

Yesterday, I found a suggestion for installing 2x4s, called sleepers, directly on the concrete, like joists, and then installing over the top of them. The Complete Guide to Finishing Basements, shows how you can install sleepers and then place shims under low spots. So, for now, that is our operating plan.

I'm also hoping the airspace between the wood strips will dry out in case of a bit of water infiltration on very wet years. The basement has seemed pretty dry now that we've dealt with the earlier water issues, but you never know what could happen.

We're meeting with Tim Austin on Friday (he's the guy who built our garage) to see how much help from him we can afford. =)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sunny Day = Outside

Today's nice weather found us outside starting some yard projects.

Jeff resumed work on digging out the new urbanite path he started last fall. That huge pile of dirt was excavated when they put in our basement door. Jeff wanted a berm there but got, I think, quite a bit more dirt than he bargained for. So now he's trying to dig a wide trench for the path and figure out what to do with the rest.
Even I made it outside for a bit of sun today. I don't dig, but I did go around and gather up salvaged wood leftover from the 2 years of remodeling. I didn't get all of it, because the remaining pieces were too big for me to carry alone. But I moved what I could to the driveway where I'm hoping we can sort through and see what we can reuse for the chicken coop.
I need to cut some short pieces so I can stack this wood with air gaps so it can dry out.

You can see more about Jeff's garden and path exploits (day 2) over at his blog.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Basement Layout

Some time last year—I barely remember doing it—I put together a sketchup plan for the basement family room finishing. I rediscovered it this week and I've been playing with it, rearranging furniture and trying to come up with a plan so Jeff and I could try and decide what to do.

Right now, our basement is pretty much a cement-lined hole in the ground with a pock-marked drywall ceiling. (The holes in the ceiling were from our remodel when they needed to run new pipes or access existing ones.) I'm hoping we're going to install insulation and some framing with outlets along the cement walls. And a decent floor would be nice. And removable ceiling panels would be wonderful.

This is the general furniture arrangement I'm thinking about, using furniture we already own (except for the TV console).
Side view of Basement Family Room
Rear portion of Basement Family room
Front portion of Basement Family Room
(I actually lucked out and found a Sketchup file for the old World Market Riley bookcase—that we have 6 of! I just needed to find a mahogany finish so I could color them to look more like ours.)
I think we're going to get rid of our existing entertainment center. It's too big and too heavy. The DVDs don't fit very well; some of them fit in the drawers, some don't. And I think we'd be just as happy with a smaller console. So, once we get it emptied, I'll see if I can find someone to take it off our hands. Though, frankly, I've seen a lot of these large size entertainment centers on craigslist lately, so we might just have to donate it to get it gone quickly.

We'd like to finish the floors in cork plank flooring, color TBD. Perhaps this Sand Dune if they have it at our local store.

All the walls, and probably the ceiling, will be painted Hubbard Squash. We have TONS of hubbard squash paint leftover from the upstairs painting project. I don't know what I was thinking when I calculated how much we needed. I must have expected to do more coats, or paint the ceilings, or something, because we have more than 5 gallons left! And that paint was expensive! So, we're gonna use it.

I dropped by the library today and picked up a few books on finishing basements, so now I'm poring over those to see if I can figure out what to do about our uneven floors.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Still Sifting

I've been busy doing more sifting. I am finally in the right frame of mind to go through tough piles and boxes of stuff and get rid of everything that doesn't need to be here.

One of my first tasks down in our basement clear out project was to grab a box and fill it with all the loose piles of paper everywhere.

I've spent the last couple of days sorting paper and I've filled up our recycle bin. And yesterday, I finally managed to catch up Quicken again. It took all day. (With virtually all our bills on auto-pay, I've found it difficult to pay close attention. And, frankly, bookkeeping was more "exciting" when Jeff was working.)

I've also got a box of books ready to donate to the library. And I'm starting to list stuff on craigslist to sell, but if the things don't go in the next few weeks, we'll just donate everything. Time to clear out!

It's going to take us a while to really clean out this basement area if we do it "right" and don't just pack up everything and stash it "temporarily" someplace else. But, I'd like to downsize into this house. We won't be moving for a long time, and I don't want to live my life here surrounded by SO MUCH stuff.
A Dutch Colonial built in 1916
And for a change of topic, our weather was nice yesterday, so we took the opportunity to walk to the library. I saw another house in Laurelhurst with a porte cochere — a Dutch Colonial. Interesting design.
At the library, I checked out a pile of books, so I was happy to have Shasta's help carrying them home. By the time we made it home, she was definitely "done" with the cart — it took quite a bit of encouragement to get her to go the last couple of blocks. Of course, once we got home she still had some energy for play time.

Next up, unfortunately, taxes. I hate doing taxes, but if I get them done now, the pain will be over and I can move on to emptying the basement family room.

(Just finished our taxes. This year was not bad — big refund! We're getting back an old AMT credit. Basement spruce up, here we come!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sifting the Basement

At long last, we are finally sifting our basement "lair" (soon to be known as the library and family room). This is the space in the back half of the basement where we were living and sleeping during our remodel, and where we continued to sleep until we refinished the bedrooms last December.

When we moved into the upstairs bedrooms in December, we had the movers bring back the rest of the bookcases; they're still sitting in the same spots, wrapped in moving blankets. And we still have a huge pile of books in boxes sitting in the next room. I probably shouldn't show a picture, because the space is such a mess, but I suppose a bad Before picture makes for a more impressive After picture.

We obviously have not been motivated to make forward progress on this project. But, the weather will be nice soon, and if we don't turn our attention to this basement project, we'll find we've paid for storage for another year. At this point, we're just wasting money.

Really, all we have to do down there right now, is pull down the ceiling and finish rewiring the last of the knob and tube so we can close out our open electrical permit. (We left it open after the garage project because the electrician said it would be OK to include the basement as well.)

Anyway, in the last couple of days we've packed up the full bookcases down there, as there is no sense everything getting covered in sheetrock dust. And the bookcases will be a lot easier to move around if they're empty.

We are still vacillating on the scope of the project. We could just fix the wiring and call it good for now.

Or we could cover the ceiling, though since we still haven't finished the master bathroom remodel, I don't want to install sheetrock again. I would prefer to come up with a removable surface. I was thinking about installing sheet beadboard, sort of like suggested in this blog, then we could take down panels where we needed to access the plumbing.
We're also trying to decide what to do about the floor. Should we clear everything out and just deal with it now? Or continue to use rugs on the cement floors. I'd sort of like to finish the floors as suggested by The Family Handyman website.
Of course, the more bits we add to this job, the faster it turns into a "real" project. We don't want to spend the next several weeks working in the basement, and we don't want to spend a bunch of money hiring help. But, we need to get out of storage, so we'd better decide fast. We need to be done and the house cleaned up again by summer.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Laurelhurst Research

In the past week or so—when I was procrastinating making runners—I finished up my Laurelhurst data spreadsheet. For most houses, I have the year they were built and who the first owner was. I now have a pretty good idea of when the bulk of the houses were built in Laurelhurst (hint, the 1920s). I also have a fairly good list of the builders of Laurelhurst.

My information is far from perfect because if an individual bought a lot and hired a contractor to build the house, the old permits would be under the owner's name, so I have no idea who the builder was. But, quite often, builders would buy several lots and build spec homes. Also, my list only includes information for houses where the original permit was available; quite a few were missing.

Now that the weather has started to turn toward spring, I've also been able to get outside and take some pictures of houses. Invariably, I am drawn to houses built in the 1910s because they were more often Arts & Crafts style or bungalows, which are obviously my favorite.

Anyway, I have a growing photo album of pretty homes located in Laurelhurst. Is this something you guys are interested in seeing? I can post them occasionally, but I don't want to bore my followers to death . . .

Here are a few to give you an idea.
Ida McCain built this house
Ida McCain built this house
Another house with a Porte Cochere
This house is just begging for a red roof
Not sure what style this is—an Arts & Crafts Four Square?
Okay, that's enough. If you guys want more pictures of houses this year, let me know in comments . . .