Monday, July 26, 2010

All Primed and Ready to Paint…

After returning from vacation on Sunday, we had to unpack, do laundry, and I had to re-pack for a work trip. I left early Monday morning to head to Santa Barbara, CA area (I spent all week at Vandenberg Air Force Base).

While Chris was at home, trying to clean up all the camping gear, and recover from vacation, I was doing some fun things. I got to California early so I was able to rent a road bike in Solvang and ride the same route as a couple stages in the Tour of California – it was a lot of rolling hills but it made me realize how out of shape I am right now! Below are some pictures I took on the ride.

The rest of the week is a blur – long meetings during the day and huge steaks at night. We went to two different steak houses and we got the largest portion sizes I could ever imagine! Below is a picture of my co-worker’s pork chops – there were two of them on the plate (each about 2 ½ inches thick!). One of the steak houses had a really nice garden area out back of the restaurant.

On the way to and from work each day I had to pass through some farmland. The one farm grew all flowers – they were too pretty to not take a picture as I passed!

For those of you who have never flown into Santa Barbara, you’re missing out on an adventure. The airport is so tiny. I took a picture of the “Baggage Claim” area – I have never seen one so small (or outside). It is just these two covered pavilions with shelves that they put the luggage on – kind of crazy!

I arrived back in Maryland to 95°F temperatures with 80% humidity. It definitely made me miss the 68°F temperatures I had in California! Because it was so hot and humid this weekend, we stayed indoors for most of it.

On Saturday, we had a few errands to run and then we worked on prepping the walls and ceiling in the master bedroom. While I was away, Chris had started patching some of the spots on the wall. One particularly bad spot was where our contractor had replaced some of the drywall on the ceiling – it required about 4 or 5 coats of drywall compound to fix it.

We started priming in the closets because they had never been painted – it was the super smooth finish that you get from plaster walls. Since they had never seen a drop of paint, we ended up putting two coats of primer on just in case.

After church on Sunday, we primed the ceiling, walls, and trim in the master bedroom. The room looks so nice and clean now – not the ugly greenish color the previous owner had on one and a half of the walls (we’re still not quite sure why each room has only two walls painted).

We also got started on prepping the walls and ceiling in the medium bedroom. There were so many places that needed to be sanded down – paint drips, random paint over debris, etc. We never thought anyone could be that bad at painting – you have to try hard to make it this awful.

Hopefully, within the next couple weeks, we can have our first “finished” room. If you own a house, you know why I used the quotation marks!

Monday, July 19, 2010

We needed a break (i.e. VACATION!)

I posted the blog a little early last week because we were going to be on vacation that Monday. The vacation plan was to backpack about 42 miles over 4 days in the upper peninsula of Michigan (the Pictured Rocks section of the North Country Trail) and spend the remaining time seeing other sites in the area.

We left home on Friday afternoon and drove up to my parent’s house to spend the night. Saturday morning we all piled in the van – it was a little crowded with six adults, six backpacks, and six overnight bags!

We drove up to the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan and stayed at a campground in Mackinaw City. It was a nice campground but unfortunately our sites were right next to the highway – lots of motorcycles and rumble strips!

Sunday morning we drove across the bridge into the U.P. We stopped for lunch at Muldoon’s (apparently the best place to get a pasty (pronounced Pass-Tee)). We were not that impressed – root vegetables with little flavor in a pastry crust.

We got to the campground in Munising and had a great site right on Lake Superior (possibly considered part of Munising Bay). We met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousins and all tried to get ready for our backpacking trip. We also played a game of miniature golf (this is necessary on every Bennett vacation).

Monday morning we chartered a shuttle to take us to the start of the trail near Grand Marais. We hiked only seven miles that day. It was pretty foggy during the day and fortunately the first section was mostly in the woods (i.e. not many views).

After setting up camp, relaxing, and eating dinner we hiked a short distance to watch sunset at the Au Sable Lighthouse. We were fortunate to see a lot of good sunsets on our trip (below are a couple of them).

On Tuesday, we hiked almost eleven miles – most of the distance of Twelve Mile Beach. We had some great views and even got to see some of the shipwreck remains on the beaches.

We decided that if you want a “Caribbean” vacation without people, heat, or humidity, the Twelve Mile Beach campground is the place to go. The beach was deserted and the views from the campsites were absolutely amazing – the water was so clear!

That night there were a few people in our group that were in a lot of pain and they were calling for bad storms so we made the tough decision to catch a ride out the next day.

Wednesday we hiked to Little Beaver Lake Campground and relaxed, read, and played cards while waiting for our ride. We decided to spend the night in a hotel in town because of the storm.

Thursday we took a boat tour of the Pictured Rocks. It was nice to see them from the water. On Friday morning, we did a long day hike around the Chapel area – we got to see a lot of the Pictured Rocks as well as a couple waterfalls.

Saturday was a long drive back to my parents’ house where we spent the night. We left on Sunday morning and apparently just missed seeing the calf down the road that was just born (that’s Saxonburg excitement for you!).

While we were gone, Tucker got to make quite a few friends. Our friend, Tom, watched him for us and he had a luau party the day before we got back. Plus he had another dog and two kids to play with all week. Tucker is going to think we’re pretty boring after all that!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Poly, poly, poly…

If you remember, our house was built in 1960 and all the floors on the main level are hardwood. When we bought the house it was obvious that the floors had seen better days – they are 50 years old. However, after a little bit of hard work we think they can look good for another 50 years.

So this week we continued the floor work in the bedrooms and hallway. For those of you unfamiliar with the work required to refinish hardwood floors, here are all the steps required (this may explain why it’s taking so long to finish!):

1. Remove old finish:
       a. Use orbital sander for majority of room (sand with 24 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor, sand with 36 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor)
       b. Use palm sander for perimeter of room (sand with 60 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor)
2. Remove swirl marks from rough grit:
       a. Use orbital sander with finer grits (sand with 60 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor, sand with 80 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor, sand with 100 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor)
       b. Use palm sander with finer grit (sand with 120 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor)
3. Patch all holes and gaps:
       a. Apply wood filler to gaps and holes (apply filler, let dry (2 hours or more), apply more filler, let dry, apply more filler (for very deep/large areas), let dry)
4. Remove excess wood filler:
       a. Sand filled areas with palm sander (sand with 120 grit, sweep floor, vacuum floor)
5. Prepare floor for stain:
       a. Remove all dust and grit from floor (sweep floor, vacuum floor, wipe floor with microfiber towel, wipe floor with tack cloth (beeswax covered cloth))
       b. Apply pre-stain conditioner to floor (apply conditioner, wipe off excess)
6. Stain floor:
       a. Apply stain
       b. Remove excess stain
       c. Let dry (at least 12 hours)
7. Apply polyurethane (3 times):
       a. Apply polyurethane
       b. Let dry (at least 15 hours)
       c. Sand with palm sander (120 grit)
       d. Clean floor (sweep floor, wipe floor with microfiber towel, wipe floor with tack cloth)
       e. Apply polyurethane
       f. Let dry (at least 15 hours)
       g. Sand with palm sander (120 grit)
       h. Clean floor (sweep floor, wipe floor with microfiber towel, wipe floor with tack cloth)
       i. Apply polyurethane
       j. Let cure (at least 14 DAYS!)

So that was probably unnecessary but when I only have a couple pictures to show for any given week I feel like I have to justify why we look like slackers! You can see though that the majority of the work required with this type of job is cleaning – tons of it!

So we are now finished with the floor in the master bedroom, medium bedroom, and half of the hallway. This still leaves the other half of the hallway, the living room, dining room, den, and small bedroom (we also have to replace half of the floor in there) – not to mention the two staircases. We definitely have our work cut out for us when it comes to floors!

Anyway, enough complaining – here are the finished results for the completed floors (master bedroom, looking from master bedroom into medium bedroom, and hallway/foyer):

In the hall picture you can see that we covered half the hallway with cardboard. This is so we can use the, ahem, lovely upstairs bathroom:

In other news, our friends Kirk and Cat got their new countertop from the same company we used. They offered us their old countertop for our basement apartment so we went over to pick it up on Tuesday evening. Between them (countertop, sink, carpet, house plants) and the neighbors across the street (table saw, lawn sweeper, drywall, interior doors) we sure are getting a lot of free things!

On Wednesday night, our next door neighbor stopped by to chat. We decided that together this fall we’ll tackle the ugly brush, trees, etc. (i.e. jungle) that are between our two houses. It should make the curb appeal of both our houses improve dramatically!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sand, Stain, Poly, Repeat…

This week was all about the floors (almost). We ended up keeping the sander for the whole week because there was so much work to do - each floor needed to be sanded with 4 different grits (24, 36, 60 and 100). There were also a lot of gaps and gashes to patch with wood filler before we could do the final sanding.

On Friday evening we stained the master bedroom - we think it looks much better. It's amazing how quickly you realize the size of a room when you have to crawl around on your hands and knees with stain!

There were several black stains on the floor in the medium bedroom and during the week we tried just about everything to get them out: wood bleach (pictured below), hydrogen peroxide, and hair bleach. They all worked a little bit but they weren’t the perfect solution we were looking for. We stained the medium bedroom floor on Saturday afternoon and the stains are barely noticeable.

We did take a little time for non-floor related activities this week. We have been searching for bedroom furniture on Craigslist and Freecycle for awhile and we finally got lucky. We found a really nice bed, dresser/armoire, and two nightstands for $250. We drove up to Baltimore to pick them up Saturday morning. We were going to use these for one of the guest rooms but for now we will use them in the master (at least until we find some nice master bedroom furniture!).

On Sunday, after church, we did a little yard work to try to beat the heat (they are expecting 100 degree weather here this week!). Chris cut down a dead tree and moved the logs to the back of the yard; I moved mulch from the front yard to the back (placed around the base of the trees). The mulch pile I was moving is so big – even after about two dozen wheelbarrow loads there was not even much of a dent.

Sunday evening we started applying polyurethane to the master and medium bedrooms and stained part of the hallway. In the middle of all this we walked to the end of our road to see the fireworks at the lake. One great thing about this neighborhood is its proximity to the lakefront and Merriweather Post Pavilion (most weekends we have been able to go outside and hear some great music from our own backyard).

We also got to meet two new neighbors this weekend. Both of them were telling us how great the house looks – they both commented on how much better it looks without the stupid wall on the porch. One woman said that before they never even noticed this house but now it’s exciting to see the progress. She also said that it will soon be the best looking house in the neighborhood. We seriously doubt this but it’s nice to hear nonetheless!