It was 54 degrees on Monday morning.
Oh yes it was. I was half awake, thinking about how cold it felt while also "dreaming" about a huge remodel project that was in a room that looked like a giant version of the 4-5-6 room at Sherburne Elementary School. A guy had just walking into all the chaos carrying a leather frame and the acrylic I had ordered to fit it, and he wanted to charge me $1,700.00 for the acrylic rather than the $50.00 he had originally quoted. I was pissed. And I was yelling at him. Then my mom, who was visiting for the weekend (for real, not in the dream) said, "Christine. It's 54 degrees in here." Sure enough the furnace had given itself the night off. What do I know from furnaces, but I found a blinking green light and a label about a "lock-out" something-or-other and a red button to push. So I pushed it. Furnace came back on. Heat started to trickle out. We were happy. Cold, but happy.
So that was Monday.
Tuesday I was up to my eyeballs in polyurethane. Jeff called to see when I would be ready for countertop installation, and we agreed on Friday. The clock was officially ticking. To follow-up on where we left off last time, my mom and I picked up the big piece of countertop at Morrisville Lumber on Saturday. It was not nearly as heavy as they led me to believe, so I was able to carry it myself, I just needed a bigger vehicle. I did fix my stain issue - turns out if you put some paint thinner on a cloth and wipe the crap out of the overly-stained item, the excess comes right off. That was good. Over the weekend I put the one coat of stain on the underside of the rest of the counters, then stained the tops with two coats. I did a better job with the stain this time. Practice makes perfect. Or, in my case, practice makes ... better than the first time.
Anyway, Tuesday was poly day. I read about all of the choices on the Minwax website, and chose Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. **side note** I really really wanted to use a green product that is made here in Vermont by a company called Vermont Natural Coatings. It's called PolyWhey and it's made from -- yep -- whey. Check out their website here. I liked the idea of using a green product, especially one made here in Vermont, but mostly I liked the humor in using a cheese byproduct. I went with the Spar Urethane instead because it was much less expensive, and it seemed like it would be way more durable (no pun intended).
The underside of the counters all got one coat of poly on Monday, but the tops were getting three coats. Since sandpaper is my friend, I followed the directions and used 220 grit to sand down the dust bumps after that first coat, but it looked like I was scratching the finish. I threw caution to the wind and applied the second coat, hoping for the best. Then I went to the hardware store and got some 320 grit sandpaper, just in case. (I spend more time at that hardware store than some of the people who work there.) Second coat dried, I lightly sanded it with the 320, then on went the third coat. Maybe that part happened on Wednesday - now I can't remember. The days all blended in to each other this week.
Except Wednesday. What a perfectly beautiful day. I had Thin Mints for breakfast. I got a lot of stuff done next door. Roxie and I went for a 2.5 mile walk in 50+ degree weather under beautiful blue skies. And I finished another painting. Here is a poodle, resting in the sun after our walk.
And here is my attempt to recreate my wabi sabi winter painting. This one is called "Snow Melts Into Spring."
But back to the poly story. When the third coat had dried I wasn't sure what to do about the not-smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom finish. It felt more like a baby's bottom with diaper rash. So back we went to the Minwax website and I found a little video showing the Minwax genius guy talking about finishing wood. He said dust is going to settle on the wet surface - nothing you can do about it - but to sand with 220 between coats (he even mentioned that it will look like you are scratching the finish) and then wet sand with 600 grit paper and lemon oil after the final coat. This knocks down the dust bumps without removing any of the finish. So guess where I went? Back to the hardware store for 600 grit paper and lemon oil. And let me tell you, those countertops are SMOOOOOOOOOOTH. They are not perfect, but they are wicked SMOOOOOOOOOTH. And they look awesome. My contractor dudes are next door right this very minute installing them (time at the tone is 10:32am).
What else. Over the course of the week I also filled the nail holes in the door and window casings in the kitchen, sanded it all down, spot primed the knots with BIN (which is shellac based and stinks like hell, but is supposed to be the best primer for covering knots), primed all the pine with BIN once the first bits were dry, painted one coat of semi-gloss white on the trim, finished priming and put three coats of blue on the two base cabinets that were naked, primed and put two coats of blue on the cabinet bits above the sink, fridge and around the microwave and the sides of the cabinets next to the pantry door and the sides of the cabinets that will be hidden by the fridge. While I had the white latex paint out I also, finally, painted those last two parts of the beadboard in the bathroom. I'm going to be painting over there forever. I still need to paint the toe kicks and all the doors and drawers. Plus the baseboards. I should have done those while I had the white paint out, but I didn't. I only painted the white trim because I realized the piece of countertop next to the pantry will be flush up against the door trim, so I needed to paint that trim before this morning.
(this denotes the passing of time)
My contractor dudes swapped the two fridges and are done; here is how the kitchen looks now (time at the tone is 1:37pm):
How awesomely cool is that? I'm never going to use this kitchen because I don't want to wreck it, although you can see all the spots where I need to finish painting, touch up paint, scrape off excess paint... and I still need some crown moulding on the wall above the door. And remember that logistical error I mentioned? It is here.
This sticky-out wall (that's a technical term) used to have a cabinet in front of it, on the kitchen side, with a (broken) tiled top. We ripped that sucker out the day we unloaded the moving truck. I was going to take this little wall down entirely, but Ann suggested I use it to get more counter space. Awesome. It overhangs the kitchen side of the wall by about an inch, and that one inch is my problem.
I will never be able to remove that drawer. It opens and closes fine, but to remove it entirely you need to tilt it way up to get the little wheels to clear the tracks. If I had thought of this when the cabinets were being installed, they could have compensated by putting some filler at this end of the cabinet run. But no. I wasn't that smart.
At least I thought about it before they installed the peninsula top -that baby is screwed down through the top and the screws are covered by plugs. Which is why I have yet to stain and finish the top and sides. I was going to stain it and just leave the plugs a natural color - that would have looked cool - but I wasn't sure how the installation was going to go so I decided to wait. Good thing I did - I need to sand down a couple of the plugs, and throw some wood putty around a third one. Stain, poly and lemon oil are on the agenda for this weekend. Woo hoo! I'm also going to paint the rest of the drawers. Three coats of primer, three coats of blue.... Sand, sand, sand.