Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We're cooking with gas!

In honor of 7,701 page hits on my blog, here is a picture of poodle fixing my range:

She worked really hard and to celebrate our ability to fry, sauté, bake, boil, simmer and otherwise cook with high heat, guess what I'm having for dinner.  A salad.  Huh.

While this was happening, a delivery truck was here.  I was expecting an 18-wheeler and while the truck may have had 18 wheels, it was one of those flatbeds with a fork lift velcroed onto the back.  You can see it parked a bit down the road.  These shrinkwrapped packages...

... turned into this:

There is also a box full of bathtub upstairs.  The two biggest cabinets (sink base and 30" base) were damaged but my contractors said they can fix them easily.  Four guys came over on their lunch hour and carried everything inside for me.  They.  Are.  Awesome.  Which reminds me - did I tell you what happened over the weekend?  At about 9:30 Friday night I suddenly had no water.

That's right, no water.

Seriously?  Just as I was getting a little excited about seeing progress next door, now I've got no water.  Talk about taking four steps back.  I'd be making more progress if I just turned around.  I was due to have company for the weekend and now I had no water.  Grr.

I spent a few hours online looking up "no water" and "no water pressure".  I learned a lot and can probably add "amateur plumber" to my resume, but I still couldn't figure out why I had no water.  The pressure tank sounded fine but the gauge was at zero.  I sent a text message to Jane, the broker who sold me this property and my only real friend in Morrisville at this point (the contractors work for her husband Nathan, and one of them is her son and one is her son-in-law), and went to bed hoping against hope I didn't need a new well pump.

Woke up Saturday morning to the phone ringing - it was Jane.  I really need to stop sending her distress signals, but she has been my savior many times over.  She sent Nathan and Dean (her son-in-law, who fixed all my plumbing next door) over and they figured out the problem in about five minutes.  It took about 15 minutes to wrap it all up because of the awkward way everything is installed in here.  See this thing?

I saw it Friday night while I was doing my diagnostics (heh, that makes me sound like a professional) but I couldn't tell what it was.  I had to reach my arm way behind the pressure tank and take a picture of it to see what the label said.  Turns out the guts of this baby don't make a full electrical connection unless the lid is screwed down tight, and we are guessing whoever installed it (the date on the label is 2012) couldn't reach back there to tighten the screws all the way.  Over time they wiggled loose and suddenly, on Friday night, they became just loose enough to lose the electrical connection.  Dean was contorting himself around the pressure tank to screw the lid back on, and Nathan was trying to lean over Dean so he could hold a flashlight in the right spot.  They saved my bacon.  I told Jane those boys are keepers.

And back to present day, when Erin, Jeff, Dean and a fourth guy (whose name I can't remember) came over to help move the cabinets inside, I told Dean I still have water.  He laughed and said he didn't!  On Sunday HIS water was off and he didn't get it back until Monday when he had to replace his water pump.  GET!  OUT!  I couldn't believe it.

Jumping back to the weekend, Kathy, Abby and Evan arrived Saturday at about 6pm.  They had the dubious honor of being the first people to sleep upstairs next door, even though there is no working bathroom over there.  First Evan fell asleep with poodle on mom's chaise:

Johnny came over on Sunday after finishing the Stowe Derby (you can read about that event here) to take a shower and regale us with tales of his athletic prowess.  He went back home Sunday afternoon but the other three stayed until Monday.  We watched Despicable Me 2 (GREAT movie) and made many a bracelet on Evan's Rainbow Loom:

Roxie was very sad when everybody went home, but she crashed right after dinner and was out for the count.

Tomorrow will be a painting day.  It's time to commit to a color for the kitchen cabinets and for the bathroom walls.  Tonight I'm going to assemble the cart I got for the pantry.  It's the least important thing I need to do, so of course I shall do it first.

Over and out.

Friday, February 21, 2014

George Foreman

I discovered it is possible to cook fried eggs on a George Foreman grill.

Tonight, when I do this again, I will crack the eggs into a bowl first so I can use my left hand to hold the grill more level.  I had it resting on the lid of a pot, but it slipped off and the counter got a bit messy.

"But Christine," you may say, "why go to such extremes when you can just eat Chinese take out for a couple of days.  Your range should be fixed by now."  Yes, that is all true.  But I got an email from Sears saying the replacement part has been backordered.  Indefinitely.  HAHAHAHAHA!  That's so funny.  Luckily, I got another email two days later saying the part had shipped.  The propane guy is coming over on Tuesday morning to fix everything.  Not sure how I am going to feed my house guests this weekend, but I will worry about that tomorrow.

Here is a picture of some stuff:

I didn't think I would have any real news to report, so this was going to be filler.  Then there is this:

Oh sweet poodle.  Mom's air mattress is still set up in the living room; we use it as a chaise.  And poodle naps there.

Yesterday I finally got off my butt and did a little work.  First I went and joined a gym.  I.  Need.  Some.  Exercise.  Now that I've got 24-hour access to treadmills, rowing machines and free weights, I already feel better about myself.  But back to the remodel.  I put the first coat of paint on the kitchen beadboard walls.  Do you have any idea how time consuming that is?  I basically painted the entire kitchen with a brush, because I had to get in all those wee little cracks.  Then I went over it all again with a roller.  I really thought I would get to the second coat yesterday, but in the middle of the night I realized that wasn't going to happen and I still needed to slap more Kilz in the pantry.  Two o'clock in the morning, and I went to bed, thoroughly covered with a layer of oil-based paint.  That stuff stinks.

So I was just getting out of bed, literally JUST getting up, when I noticed someone was at the door.  The floor installer guy was early.  ACK!  He got started on the bathroom floor while I placed an emergency call to my contractor friends, and they came over to de-squeak the kitchen floor.  Now, seven hours later, here is my new bathroom floor:

Wicked nice, for in-stock sheet vinyl!  The beadboard will end up being white, and those walls - the ones that have been pink, green and hideous blue - will be either a pale lavender or some kind of apple green.  First I have to fix my mirror mess (which will involve cutting off the flappy bits of drywall, then skim coating it with mud).  I need to pick a color and get it done before Tuesday next week because that's when I'm hoping the Home Depot delivery truck will get here.

Now for the kitchen:

It looks so tiny with poodle sitting in the middle of the floor!  The blue thing leaning against the wall is a piece of mightycore painted cabinet color.  It's a Behr color called Ionic Sky.  I'm going to have the paint guy here at Ace Hardware match it because he can get it for me in an oil-based paint, and Home Depot can't.  I will have a whole lot of cabinets to paint next week.  Oh, and Morrisville Lumber is making my wood countertops.  I'm still stunned I can afford them.

I love to see visible progress.  The kitchen and bathroom are going to look SOOOOOO different from their previous selves.  They already do, but the end results are going to be crazy good.

We just had a bunch of wicked thunder and hard, heavy rain.  Roxie put herself to bed.  Hmmm.  Naptime.  Sounds like a good idea.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Things that go bump in the night

Okay, so it wasn't really night yet, and it wasn't exactly a bump.  But late yesterday afternoon Roxie head a loud noise and ran to the door barking her head off.  That can be a bit startling when you are home alone and the lighting situation makes it so it is much easier to see in than it is to see out.  But have no fear, it was this:

Can you see all the snow that slid off the roof?  There's a huge pile out there.  And speaking of snow, I am developing quite the talent for meeting all the neighbors who own plows.  Roxie and I were out shoveling my other driveway when a guy in a pickup drove by.  A pickup with a plow on the front.  He stopped and asked if I wanted any help.  I asked if he would help with half the driveway - the outside half that included the berm made by the town plow.  I needed to shovel something because I need the exercise.  Turns out the neighbor is named Byron; he and his wife live about half a mile up the road and poodle and I sort of met them a couple weeks ago when we were out for a walk.  He was quite nice and offered to plow both of my driveways anytime I need some help.  Awe.  Some.

"And now, the continuing stooooory of a quack who's gone to the dogs."

(HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Anybody remember that one?)

Anyway, back to the continuing stooooory of  a remodel that's ....  I don't have a good ending to that sentence.  So here's a little story that has nothing to do with the remodel, but illustrates my one-step-forward-two-steps-back theory.  Since I am technically a new customer with the propane company, they had to come out and do a free site inspection to check for leaks.  I also asked if they would cap the other propane line (I've got two tanks, one for each of the gas ranges in the two kitchens) and remove the extra tank.  Remember, I'm replacing the range in my soon-to-be-new kitchen with an electric range so I'm not completely surrounded by fuel sources.  So the guy comes out and instead of looking at everything and telling me it's all hunky dory, he tells me the safety valve on the range is defective and he has to turn off the propane and lock the tank until I get a replacement part and someone comes back out to install it.  (Read $200 or so.)  Plus, the tank itself has a leak, so that baby needs to be replaced.  AND the tank is too close to the door so when they come to swap it out they need to relocate it several feet farther down the driveway.  I briefly thought about getting rid of this range and ditching the propane altogether, but my new electrician friend told me it would be a nightmare to run wires for an electric stove.  So I ordered the part, which won't get here until Thursday at the earliest.  In the meantime, I have no cooking apparatus, except my toaster oven.  Yay me.

When the propane guy went over to look at the other tank next door, he said it isn't one of theirs so he couldn't remove it.  He did turn it off and lock the tank and shove the gas line down through the kitchen floor, but it took several phone calls to other propane companies before I found the rightful owner of the tank.  They must have taken it away sometime on Thursday when I wasn't looking; we got a crap ton of snow Thursday night and when I noticed the tank was gone on Friday, there were no footprints in the new snow.

But let's go back inside.  The kitchen went from looking like this on Thursday:

To looking like this on Friday:

Here's the other side of the room:

I still need to slap some Kilz on the walls and ceiling of the pantry.  Did you know they make that stuff in a spray can?!?  I found it at Home Depot and almost did a happy dance in the paint aisle.  I also want to fill in the cracks between the beadboard panels before I paint everything.  Ann says I can get wood filler that squeezes out of a tube like caulk, which is exactly what I was hoping to find.  The flooring installer is coming end of the week so I have a couple of days to get this done.  I forgot to take a picture of the kitchen ceiling - Erin and Jeff took those "beams" down for me.  If I get my act together, I will paint the ceiling this week too.

Up in the bathroom, the Thursday-to-Friday transformation isn't very spectacular:

The beadboard has been wrapped around the room as far as it can go until the bathtub gets installed.  I need to figure out how to deal with that mess I found/created behind the mirror before I can paint the walls in here.  I also need to figure out how to deal with the skylight.  If you remember from previous pictures, it looks like raw wood, which just doesn't seem like a good idea considering the skylight is above the bathtub.  I'm going to paint it high gloss white but I don't know if I need to seal it first or if the paint will act as enough of a seal.  And I want to make sure the damn thing isn't leaky.  Again, flooring installer is coming end of the week and I'd like to have the upper walls painted before he gets here.  The beadboard is going to stay white but I think I will wait until the tub is in and the rest of it is installed before I bother with filling nail holes and painting it.

As a final unrelated note, poodle and I found out our friend Cisco headed off for his journey across the Rainbow Bridge.  In the same way that Ubu went during a lunar eclipse, Cisco went while there was a beautiful rainbow across the Flathead Valley.  Back in December Cisco gave poodle a going away present, and she has been really good at keeping it in one piece.  Here they are together in the jeep somewhere around Minnesota, and again at my mom's house at the end of the trip:

We named the toy after Cisco so we will always remember him, and poodle will keep him close to her heart.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Shave and a Haircut

It has been non-stop activity around here - Roxie is beginning to think we are popular.  I have had a landline for mere days and the phone has been ringing off the hook (Google maps recorded message, wrong number twice), we've had visitors (FedEx guy, census worker) - I just can't keep up.

Other than that, I've had so little to report I was going to resort to regaling you with tales of my first leg shaving event in months.  When you avoid this personal grooming task for as long as I did, trust me when I say there IS a learning curve.  That shaving cream really flies out of the can - it was all over the side of the tub, on the wall, on a plant, halfway up the window shade....  Truth.  But I'm not going to tell you about that after all because more important things have been happening.  Also bathroom related, but better.

This is what I did last night:

On Saturday morning, three guys who will be my best friends over the next couple of weeks came over and assessed my project.  I have a fair idea of what I want the finished space to look like - I just don't know how to get there.  So they looked, they assessed, they discussed, they ripped that last remaining kitchen cabinet out of the wall, and they said they would be back Monday morning at 8:00 a.m.  We needed to figure out where the mold on the kitchen wall was coming from so I demoed as much as I could in the bathroom last night.  It wasn't much - I took the mirror and the shelf under it down, took away the shower doors and all the door tracks, then ripped off the shower surround.

This is what my bathroom looks like right now:

Bathroom?  What bathroom?  The leaky culprit was the toilet.  Of course it was.  So now I have a skylight in my kitchen right up to the bathroom:

Talk about a blank slate.  Dean is going to replace all the plumbing that lives under the bathroom floor tomorrow, then they will replace the rotted subfloor and add a layer of 1/4" luan on top.  On Wednesday I have planned a field trip to Home Depot to look at a tub, the shower surround, a vanity, fixtures, toilets and new flooring.

And back down in the kitchen, did I ever post these pictures from last week?

That's the hold out - the last cabinet we couldn't get down.  The one my new friends ripped off the wall yesterday.  Now the kitchen looks like this:


You know, I have been following the blog of an Etsy seller who moved from Boston to rural Vermont (outside Woodstock, actually) with her groom-to-be.  She was posting all the home improvement projects they were doing in the months before their wedding, which they were hosting at their house.  I kept thinking how unrealistic her situation was because she was obviously marrying someone with remodeling super powers and they were doing everything themselves.  (Wonder Twin powers activate -- form of This Old House!)  And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  They built a huge garden with raised beds and a fence with a fancy gate.  They converted the basement space into a spare bedroom, and redid an entire bathroom (including pouring a concrete shower and tiling the crap out of everything).  They walled in the open space under their deck and made it an indoor space with reclaimed windows they sanded and repainted, and huge bluestone pavers for the floor.  It all looked so cool and sexy.

Well.  Let me tell you.  So far there has been exactly nothing sexy about my remodel.  Not that I expected it to be, mind you.  That would have been unrealistic and I don't smoke THAT much crack.  At this point there is not a thing happening next door that I can do myself.  Once the cabinets get here I will break out a paint brush - they are unfinished oak.  And when the beadboard goes up on the walls I will paint that myself as well.  In fact, here is Ann's rendering of what we hope the finished kitchen will look like:

Picture the beadboard on the walls in yellow, not tan.  And that thingy in the middle of the floor is a cabinet on casters that will live in the pantry.  Yellow walls, blue cabinets, hopefully dark wood countertops, and some kind of tile-look floor that is either a laminate floating floor or sheet vinyl.  Not the pattern in the pictures, but that's the closest Ann's software let her get to a tile look.  In fact, these rooms have only had ceilings for about a week - they looked so bright and airy with blue skies and puffy white clouds.

Anyway, this is parked in my driveway:

I described it to my nephew Evan as a pickup truck with a dump truck on the back end and he thought it would be big enough for him to swim in.  Evan, I would respectfully suggest that although that may be true, it perhaps isn't the best of ideas.  Even if it IS your birthday today.

So that's where we are right now.  My new best friends put two coats of Kilz on the kitchen floor right before they left today, and tomorrow they will finish with the plumbing and start putting the walls back together in the kitchen and the floor back together in the bathroom.  In the next couple of days progress will come to another screeching halt while we wait for the Home Depot delivery truck.

Now, let's end on a fun note.  Here is a picture of my knobs:

Wait a minute, what did you think I was talking about???

I found these on Etsy.  They.  Are.  So.  Awesome.  I ordered two to see what they look like in real life and they have the potential to be a subtle yet interesting bit of bling for the kitchen cabinets.  You know, when I actually have cabinets.