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Powder Room is Finished!

July 27, 2014

 

Half bath before our work

Half bath before our work

Another three months between posts.  It does suggest that we aren’t working, or I stopped writing, neither of which is really true.  I write quite a bit, (just on other blogs) and we have been working quite a bit, just much slower these days.  Will has dropped his nap, which means we have very little chunks of time to accomplish things.

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Back of the door, bottom half is re-oiled.

Check out this wallpaper, 80's looking, we think.

Check out this wallpaper, 80’s looking, we think.

So, it took us nearly 4 months to complete our downstairs bathroom.  We started in February, just taking down the wallpaper.  It was both dated and dirty.  And, it was stuck on with epoxy or something equally sticky.  I pulled it off in micro-bits after soaking it in warm water and laundry softener.  At this point, I also tested Danish oil on the door to see if it would refresh the surface.  Two coats did wonders.

By April, we had refinished the floor and put in a new toilet.  You can see the large ugly hole that we had to fill in once we took out the cabinet sink.  Bill keeps a great stash of scrap wood and he had enough pieces from our hardwood floors to patch the whole.  The room was small enough that Bill did the floor in a weekend, really.  Sanded and stained in a day and then took two more to get coats of polyurethane on it.  Toilets are heavy, but not hard to put in.  We had that part complete by Easter weekend.

Everything stripped

Everything stripped

By the end of May, the whole thing was repainted and ready for a sink.  We used two different primers, one for the plastered walls and another for the wainscoting beneath.  Two coats of primer on each surface and then two coats of paint on top of each of those.  Plus, Bill caulked holes and cracks between coats.

Primer complete

Primer complete

In June, we put in the sink, refinished the window and placed the fixtures.  Really, Bill did all of this.  He took out the window and stripped the pink paint and stained the frame, which looks sharp with the mirror and the floor.  We took out the old medicine cabinet and put it upstairs where it is more useful.  Moving the mirror from upstairs down works for now, too.  We bought a new light fixture a few months back when the old one died and I liked the placement of it.  Even though it is off center, it works for me.  All of the hardware is an oil-rubbed bronze.

The only thing left is to put in a new switch and find a way to put in an outlet.  Like the dining room, this room has no outlets.  For a powder room, it isn’t a huge deal, but it would be a nice feature to have just in case.  Getting rid of more pink in this room was a big priority for me, and refinishing the floor just makes the room feel new.  It is brighter and cleaner now.

The old toilet moved upstairs to our full bath, where it will reside until we get all new fixtures.  The previous toilet had to be 60 years old and it was ready to retire.  The half bath sink we put out at “Tiffany’s” where it “sold” quickly.  (Shopping at Tiffany’s is our way of explaining how quickly things disappear if we put them at the curb.  We have sold a lot at Tiffany’s over the years, but it is always fun to see when things go.)

So, our half bath is overall complete.  We are working on other outdoor projects right now, too, and taking time to enjoy our family and the outdoors.

Finished

Finished

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Low key catchup

May 27, 2014
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Mother's Day selfie

Mother’s Day selfie

This winter has taken a lot out of us.  Even Bill felt the effects of such a deep cold winter.  Will was sick a lot, we all were sick a lot and there was no leaving the house because of the frigid weather.  I could always tell when the weather was below 10 degrees in the mornings because my nose hairs would freeze instantly.  So, we stayed in a nested as best we could, getting very little done on the actual house.  Bill worked in his guitar closet/room, and I took note of the furniture I need to repair.

As spring came on, we started to find the motivation.  We’ve kicked in high gear in yard work because the weather has been San Diego nice.  But, we’ve also begun and almost finished renovating the downstairs guest bath.  And, Bill built a little treasure for me for Mother’s Day that is taking up most of the side porch — a swinging porch bed.  Woot!  I’ll post pics of it once it is painting and furnished with pillows.

We’ll be wrapping up the bath in the next 2 weeks and spending our summer on the garage.  We still have to finish painting it, and we’re talking about creating a car port and outside fire pit this summer.  So much to do and so little time.

 

Winter Work

February 25, 2014
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Okay, it looks brighter in this photo than it really is.

Okay, it looks brighter in this photo than it really is.

We have been getting a few things done this winter, although I feel I truly should be hibernating with a large cup of tea and a book.  It has been ridiculously cold and snowy for most of us in the north east, and I’m complaining because I still have southern bones.  It is sort of strange to me when I walk outside in 40 degrees and think, “WOW, I don’t need a coat!”

Bill and I have gone our ways and worked on individual projects.  I have started taking down wallpaper in the guest bath and refinishing my hallway linen chest.  Bill has continued to work on his “closet” and organized his workshop for preparations on making a new bed for Will.  We have each spent numerous hours keeping our cabin fever at bay and helping our toddler do the same.  If we ever get warmed up again and get going outside, I’ll post more.

In the meantime, here is a shot of my linen chest.  It won’t be lined, but a good place to store some of my collection.

I am not to be left alone…

December 31, 2013
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Ten or so days before Thanksgiving, I safely delivered Karyn and Will to the airport so they could get a head start on Thanksgiving at Karyn’s mom and dad’s home in South Carolina. Being left alone with 10 days to use before I would fly down to meet them all, I had two choices: build or refinish something or sit around depressed and dejected. So, immediately from the airport, I went to the lumber yard to purchase materials for a new project!

I have been really tired of not having a dining room table ever since we bought our house… which has a pretty big dining room! I have been lusting after several tables at Restoration Hardware for a while now but as a wood worker I could never justify the price when I know I could make the same thing for a fraction of the cost…which kept leading me to think about either finding plans to build a table or designing one of my own.

While innocently trying to get inspired on Pintrest, looking at motorcycles, furniture and the occasional packaging design innovation (product packaging has always been a fascination of mine mostly because it can sell me a product I care nothing about!) I found a table I really liked. It happened to be linked to really cool website and blog associated with ana-white.com. Ana White demystified Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware furniture into DIY style plans. There I found what would become the basis for the plans I would alter to make my dining room table!

I did not change much. Overall I changed the dimensions to be a longer and slightly wider table and then dressed it up a bit. As it was presented, the able was a little too rustic. At its heart, it is a trestle style farmhouse table however I wanted it slightly more refined so I opted for mitered corners instead of the butt-joined corners in the plan for the table top. I also added some stain-grade moldings to both the table top edges and to the bases… again, to dress it up a little. True to a farmhouse table, I added bread-board style ends to the two main panels of the table top effectively turning a 108” table into a full ten feet or 120” long. By the time I added the molding edges to the top the finished dimensions turned out to be 122” long by 42” wide. Perfect for our dining room!

The neatest thing about this project is the materials. It cost less than $200 of construction grade pine (yup… 2×4’s 2×6’s and some 1×4 and 6’s from Lowes), a little glue, a ton of sanding and joiner work and then about $30 in stain and polyurethane. So for about $230, I ended up with a table that would likely cost 8-10 times that at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware!

Here are some pictures I took along the way:

Tops and Bottoms for the 3 Pedestals

Tops and Bottoms for the 3 Pedestals

I first started by building the 3 pedestals. Above are the pieces for the tops and bottoms of the pedestals and below are the upright columns for each pedestal being glued and clamped. Each Column has the mortise in the center which will accommodate the stretcher bar creating the integrity of joining all three pedestals.

Pedestal Columns

Pedestal Columns

And here are the 3 pedestals assembled before any sanding and fussing!

Pedestals in the Rough

Pedestals in the Rough

I added the molding touches to dress up the pedestals a bit:

A Little Molding

A Little Molding

Then on to the table top! I started by laying out the primary boards that will show the most. I selected the best boards I could find at the lumber yard, cut them to rough dimensions and then played with the grain and pattern until I felt I had them aligned and oriented to one another nicely.

Choosing Boards

Choosing Boards

Assembly of the table top was done in many steps. Here I am showing the top mostly done and highlighting the mitered corners I chose to do over the butt-joined corners the plan called for. You can also see the addition of the molding surrounding the entire table top… another addition I included to dress up the table top.

Table Top Corners

Table Top Corners

Bottom Side Up!

Above picture shows the underside of the table top and here below is the top correct side up, clamped and getting ready for more work!

Top Clamped

Top Clamped

Here is the top sanded and ready for finishing:

Sanded Smooooth!

Sanded Smooooth!

While so many woodworkers report feeling the most anxiety when gluing and assembling their project, I feel the most nervous while staining. While staining, each and every blemish, sand mark and glue mistake shows itself! I always approach staining  praying and swearing…

I used a water bourne polyurethane to limit the odor in the house. I dislike most water polys but the one I like the best is the Varathane floor finishes. I’ve done a great deal of testing these finishes and they perform better than most. They absolutely look like plastic which is why I do not like them compared to oils or aromatic polyurethane… but they have nearly no odor while drying and they are easy to apply and use.

Staining

Staining

In the end, we had a table ready for Christmas Eve dinner (Picture is dessert, the best part of every meal!)

Worth the Work

Worth the Work

As you can see by the picture above, we’re using a mix of chairs we have which include a few folding chairs (classy!). But don’t worry Restoration Hardware! We are likely going to need to buy 12 chairs. I have no real interest in building chairs for some reason…

This will be my last blog post of the year! Whew, just made it!

Happy New Year!

Bill

Fall Jammin’

October 13, 2013
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A while back, a friend of mine asked if I had any posts on making preserves or canning jam.  Well, this post is for her, thanks for asking, Lori.

Quince from my own trees

Quince from my own trees

I don’t normally post this kind of thing on this blog, but it is good to have as a reference and is one of a few tutorials I wanted to get started posting anyway.  Besides, we are still painting the garage and not showing much of anything right now in that line of work.  I’m just hoping we get a whole first coat on before the weather changes.

I learned how to make strawberry jam last year and how to can it properly.  I got so into the process that I made apple jelly, orange marmalade, lime marmalade and quince jam before the year was out.  This season, I thought I’d try to make some new flavors. I started with strawberry to get in the groove, so those are the pics and the process I’ll post here.

For me, the process was all about knowing how not to poison myself and others so I learned from someone showing me first hand, which was GREAT.  That is also how I’m learning to knit and how I learned to make really awesome cinnamon rolls.  Learning from a seasoned woman is the best way, I think.

All my tools, raring to go

All my tools, raring to go

Start with the all the tools you’ll need.  This is huge.  Get a lot of jars, in some different sizes.  Get a few boxes of pectin, low sugar and regular Sure -Jell is my preferred choice.  Get a canning pot, with a canning rack.  Bill bought one for me last year for Christmas –one of the best presents ever.  Get a magnet to pick up lids out of the boiling water and a set of tongs made for picking up the jars.  Have a wire rack for cooling jams and some kitchen towels on hand.  Get a jam funnel and a ladle.  There ya go.

The hardest part is preparing the fruit, I think.  For things like peaches or cherries, you have to remove stems or pits or peel.  It can be daunting, so start with strawberries, so easy.  Clean them, remove stems and mash them up.  If I have fresh berries to use in June, I prepare them and then freeze the prepared fruit so that I can make the jam when the weather cools.

Following the recipe either on the Sure Jell website, I’m ready to go.

Seven cups of sugar

Seven cups of sugar

I’ve started cleaning all the jars I’m going to use, lids, rims and jars and turned them over.  I’ve started the water boiling in the canning pot.  It takes forever to heat up, so good to start early.  Thaw out the fruit.  Prepare the sugar (put 7 cups in a bowl).  Mix 1/4 cup of that sugar with the powdered pectin.

Place the lids in another small pot on a back burner to boil and sterilize.  Place the jars in the boiling water in the canning pot to sterilize.  Then put the fruit in another pot to start cooking.  Turn the fruit on high and mix in the pectin/sugar.  Stir constantly until this mixture is at a rolling boil.  Add the rest of the sugar and continue to stir.  Just stir forever.

Once this mix is rolling in a boil, time it to boil for one more minute.  Then, turn off the burner, take the jam off the stove and skim the froth off the top.  Some fruits make a lot and it is just sorta weird to have in your jam.

Canning pot boiling jars, and me stirring jam.

Canning pot boiling jars, and me stirring jam.

Then, quickly pull a jar out of the canning pot, fill it with warm jam up to 1/4″ from the top by using the ladle and funnel, wipe the rim, place on a lid and the tighten on the rim.  Do this with all the rest of the jam into jars.  If you have a little jam left, put it in a mug on the counter to see how it gels and you’ll have a fresh taste for when you’re done.  This is the stressful part, doing this quickly and not burning yourself.  But it is possible.

At this point, you can turn the jars over on the wire rack to let them cool.  This is safe with strawberry jam.  But, I take the next step and boil the sealed fruit for 5 more minutes in the canning pot.  This is a preventative step to avoid spoilage.  Remove the jars once they are done, don’t over process and let them cool upright.  Don’t shake them, just let’em gel.

Finished strawberry jam

Finished strawberry jam

My favorite site to follow for both recipes and process is here.  She is wordy, but so helpful and usually right on in all her recipes.  PickYourown.org

So far this year, I’ve made strawberry, apple jelly and cherry.  I’m still planning to do peach, marmalade and maybe grape.

Garage Priming

September 21, 2013
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the garage, waiting for a paint job

the garage, waiting for a paint job

With the driveway behind us, we have been focusing on priming the garage.  Unfortunately, fall came early this year and we both feel a little behind.  So, we hired a little help.  It isn’t our style to hire help, but Alex is a great guy and super agreeable to work with.  He is our neighbor’s nephew and loads of experience on projects like this.  Besides, the priming has been rather tedious for us.  We’re using a supremely good primer that goes on white, but dries clear.  It fills in cracks and adheres chipping paint to the surface.  Sort of like painting with Elmers, but a more stable version.  The garage looks plain and simple primed without the first coats of paint.  I’m hoping to get some actual color on it today, but we’ll see how the weather cooperates.

Bill will be fixing and updating the garage door and lights on the exterior.  If we get these lights working, it won’t be so dark during the winter when Bill comes home from work, or on nights we go out.  We won’t be able to finish everything we need to do to the garage this fall, but this is a good start, to have it painted.  We’ll have to repair the brick work and likely put in a new floor at some point.  When Will is old enough, we might make the attic a “playhouse” for him by putting in a dormer window.

I still can’t believe we get to live in this place.  What an amazing house.

And what an amazing fall coming.

Resurfacing the Driveway

September 1, 2013
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Before the sealant

Before the sealant

We’ve been plugging away outside this summer, though it is quickly turning to fall here.  The leaves are already changing and starting to fall, at least our maples are moving along.  With progress halted for a bit on the garage painting, we decided to go ahead and resurface the drive.  It desperately needed it and we had to get it done before the leaves but after the pollen, so a few short weeks in July and early August and that was it.

To complicate things, we have a shared drive.  We have great neighbors, but as it turned out, they weren’t able to help us do the work.  We did strike a deal, though — we’ll do the labor if they can pay for the sealant.  So, Bill and I got to work.  I’d have to say that resurfacing asphalt is by far the heaviest labor that I have ever done, and my back is still reeling.  Hopefully, I have not injured another disk.  Yikes.

Heidi

Heidi

Bill and I researched sealants for a while, and the process, and filling cracks and patching.  All of the above have to be done in a timeline, preceded by edging the drive carefully and power washing to remove debris.  And, each piece of the process needs its own drying time of 24 hours before the next step can be done, whew.  Sealants got mixed reviews online and people complained of the companies’ not standing by their products.  I was sorta worried that our extremely old and crumbly drive wasn’t going to allow the sealant to adhere.  And then, once we started edging and washing, I got really nervous.  The drive cracked under the pressure of the washer and the edge was just gravel at some points.

But, we decided to take our chances and ended well, with two full coats down of an 8 year sealant.  I’m pleased with the look and feel and so far the adhesion is perfect.  I can offer some tips, however, on what we learned in the process:

Driveway completely sealed

Driveway completely sealed

1.  Turn the buckets over the night before to allow the sediment to fall out.  Mixing, even with  a drill attachment, took forever on our first coat.

2.  Buy more buckets than you think you need, especially if the drive is rough.  Buy at least 5-8 buckets more than you need, you can always return it, but it is hard to run and get it in mid project.

3.  Check the dates on the buckets.  Don’t use old stuff — it will smell and dry slowly and possibly not adhere.  We did end up using one old bucket and found out the hard way.

4.  Clean the dickens out of the driveway before you start, you will thank yourself.

5.  Follow all the directions to a tee.  There is a warranty on the product, but seriously, is the company really going to come and fix your sad ole driveway if something goes wrong?

6.  Don’t plan to do anything else the rest of the weekend.  And do this with someone as you can blood, sweat and tears together before you pass out from exhaustion.

Good luck!  (And I realize that these photos make it super hard to tell what we did, but believe me, a HUGE difference!)