Monday, January 31, 2011

Wide Open Spaces

Once again this week we didn’t get much accomplished during the week – something about getting dark so early just drains all energy and motivation.

We did get a decent snow storm on Wednesday evening so we got a couple hours off work on Wednesday afternoon and a few off Thursday morning. Unfortunately, this was only enough time to shovel 8 inches of heavy, wet snow off of the sidewalk and driveway. It did make a very beautiful winter wonderland though!

On Saturday morning, I continued to work on the stripping of the bedroom furniture – I’m definitely not as ambitious as I was when I started! Once Chris made it downstairs, we decided to start the demolition of some of the framing that has been getting in the way. The one particular area that was bothersome was the wall at the bottom of the stairs. It left only about a 3 foot gap for the landing – definitely not enough when we need to move things around!

The previous owner used this area as an illegal day care, an apartment, and a mold farm (or at least it seemed that way). Although we had the basement treated to contain the mold spores, we still didn’t feel comfortable having all that in the house (plus we plan on moving the walls when we finish the basement anyway). Now we have some wide open space so that we can use it for some of our bigger projects and tool storage.

After removing the walls, we started cleaning up our mess of a house. Diane and Steve lost power and asked if they could hang out and possibly spend the night. We spent a few hours to remove the clutter and sweep up all the dust and Tucker hair. Now that it’s all nice and clean, we’ll see how long it stays this way! (It turns out that they got their power back after a few hours and didn’t make it over here – there was a squirrel in their transformer)

We went out to a nice dinner on Saturday evening and were going to finish up the night with a movie but we were too tired. Instead, on Sunday afternoon we saw a matinee for True Grit – it was a very good movie!

Sunday afternoon was spent working outside for awhile. Our flowering dogwood tree is one of the nicer ones on the property. With the heavy snow, one of the large branches got too heavy and split near the base. We decided to try to save it so we put up a brace, cut off much of the big branch to remove a lot of weight, and bolted the split halves together. We’ll see if it works!

One task that we’ve both been dreading is cleaning out the space under the back porch. This was where Chris saw the wolf spider the size of a softball and we also assumed that there were snakes and rodents living there too. That is why we’ve been waiting until the weather is nice and cold to make sure that everything is good and dead.

I was quite intimidated when I started pulling everything out. The entire volume was filled with a bunch of boxes and bags of branches and pine cones. The pile outside was pretty big when I was finished – and I found a few bones under there too (I’m hoping they are from an animal!).

Hopefully we’ll have more energy after work this week!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pittsburgh’s Goin’ to the Super Bowl!

Yes, I am excited that we’re going back to the Super Bowl. However, I am a little nervous because of the way we played the second half last night and the first half of the Ravens game (Tucker ran into the bedroom and wouldn’t come out during these times – I guess I yell at the tv too much!). Let’s hope we play better against the Packers!

Throughout the week, we didn’t have a whole lot of motivation to work on the house. On Saturday, I worked on stripping more of the bedroom furniture while Chris worked on plumbing. While I was waiting for the stripper to do its thing (and watching Psych), all of a sudden a ton of water fell from the ceiling to the shouts of Chris – “Turn off the water!” He was trying to fix a leak we’ve had in the lines running to the sink and it burst as soon as he touched it. It took awhile to get it fixed.

I was able to strip a nightstand, the top of the dresser, and all the dresser drawers. This was a lot of work and took me all day.

We have another dresser that was given to us by our next door neighbor. The top of the dresser was in bad shape – the top had a bad split and warp. I was able to fix it using some wood glue and a lot of clamps.

Saturday and most of Sunday, Chris worked on the plumbing for the water filter. This has been a project that we never seemed to have time for and were really looking forward to the completion of it. Unfortunately, the fittings sold at the hardware store are crap. It took Chris many tries to finally have no leaks in the system. Now, we can get nice filtered water directly from the faucet!

On another note, there have been a lot of deer in the yard – we think they are eating our compost. Here’s a picture of them standing in our front yard one morning.

Here we go Steelers, here we go!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wall Removal, Half Bath Reveal, and Furniture Stripping

The evenings this week were spent finishing the half bathroom. We had to touch up some paint, install the vanity, sink, faucet, and fixtures, and caulk everything. Chris did most of this work and it turned out great! The only thing that is still left to do is to put in the threshold transition piece from the hardwood hall to the tile bath. Here are some of the final pictures of the tiny space (and a before picture for comparison).

I worked third shift a couple nights this weekend and am completely exhausted – I didn’t know that the circles under my eyes could ever get this big! When I finally woke up on Saturday, Chris and I decided to remove a couple of the half walls in the basement that were annoying us. One was the half wall left in the laundry room – it was always frustrating to have to walk around it to get to the washer and dryer. We saved the door to use later but removed the rest of the poorly constructed frame.

After we removed the wall and cleaned up a bit, we were finally able to put the washer on its pedestal (it only took about a year!).

The other half wall that we removed was the “kitchenette” wall in the apartment area. The layout of this area was so odd – they built this wall to form a little hallway to the bathroom when they could have just put the bathroom door on the other wall. We needed to remove this so that I would have some space to start working on the furniture refinishing. The metal cabinets on this wall are actually amazing – so heavy duty and still in great shape. We’ll definitely be reusing them in Chris’ workshop.

The final work this weekend was starting to strip our master bedroom furniture. We have had this furniture sitting in the basement for many, many months while we worked on the more pressing items upstairs. Now that we finally have some space (our basement is just one giant storage area) I was able to start this process.

If you have ever tried to strip furniture, you know that it takes just about forever. It took me all Sunday evening and part of this morning to finish just the footboard for the bed. The worst part is that each “waiting” period is only 15 minutes – not enough time to work on any other task. So instead I’m hanging out in the basement watching episodes of “Psych” on Netflix.

The furniture that we purchased was rather fancy for our style but the price was right ($600) and the furniture was very well made (hooray for dovetail drawers!). So this is when I start kicking myself that the furniture is not “Shaker” style. There are so many intricate details on this furniture that I think I might go crazy by the end!

Maybe if I work on it consistently, I’ll finish the stripping sometime in late February - yikes!

Monday, January 10, 2011

We Have Another Working Toilet!

We have wanted to complete the half bathroom for a very long time and we’re now so close.

On Monday, I grouted the floor. There was a very limited selection of non-sanded grout at the store so we ended up with sanded. My hands were rubbed raw by the end of the job – and it was only about 15 sq. ft. I’d hate to use sanded grout for a large surface!

After that, we had to spray it with water for three days so that it would properly cure. That stopped us from working in the room for the better part of the week.

Saturday was a full work day. I sealed the grout and painted the ceiling and walls in the morning while Chris started work on the plumbing in the basement. Around lunchtime, we went to Lowe’s to buy everything else we needed: toilet, vanity, faucet, light, fan, trim, fixtures and plumbing supplies. We spent a lot on such a small space!

After we got back, I installed the trim while Chris continued with the plumbing work. The plumbing gave him a very hard time. He was trying to go from CPVC to copper and the one fitting kept leaking. He had to re-do that fitting 4 times and still ended up having to buy a new fitting on Sunday after church.

I spent a lot of Saturday afternoon installing the light and fan. The contractor had installed a really cheap fan in the bathroom (it’s the $13 one you see in the stores). The old fan was so loud that you had to shout to someone right next to you. We replaced it with a fan/light combo that is much, much quieter. The light fixture above the vanity was a pretty easy install (except for dealing with the way the contractors installed the job box).

Sunday morning, Chris installed the toilet. Because the space is so small, we had to go with a very narrow one. It’s so nice to have one so close to where we spend most of our time. We still have to install the vanity, faucet, and fixtures but I’ll give you a sneak peak at the finished product.

This bathroom will be a big thing to check off our list and then it’s time to work some small projects before we tackle the other bathrooms.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Bathroom!

We had a great time with family over the holidays. Before we came back to Maryland, we had lunch with a bunch of my friends from college. It was a great time and very loud! Almost everyone has infants and toddlers so there was a lot of cuteness!

We had to work on Wednesday and Thursday and didn’t get much done on the house. We did get to celebrate Christmas here – Tucker loved his new treats, Chris loved his new tools, and I loved my new camera!

On New Year’s Eve, we ran errands and started cleaning the house. We never really like New Year’s and this year was no different. Our town was having a “Midnight at 7” fireworks display that we could see perfectly from the end of our driveway. After they were finished, we went to see a movie – unfortunately it was sold out. Instead, we came home and watched the ball drop in Times Square (of course I fell asleep at 10:30 and Chris had to wake me up for the actual event).

On New Year’s Day we decided to start off with some exercise. We ran in the Resolution Run 8K. It was a prediction run which is like a backwards race. The winner is the person that finishes closest to 11:00. We haven’t run in a long time and we predicted our pace slightly faster than we actually ran. We finished at 11:03:15 – not too bad for taking a wild guess!

The rest of the day was spent watching bowl games (Penn State lost) and the Winter Classic (Penguins lost). We’ll just say that it wasn’t a good day for me.

On Sunday, after church, we started laying out the tile for the half bathroom. I got pretty good at using the tile saw!

Chris worked on laying out and installing the tile. Once we put the grout in this week it will look spectacular!

In other news, our next door neighbors are putting an addition on their house. They are removing the garage and replacing it with a bigger garage and master bedroom on top. The construction is happening right outside of our bedroom so I’ve been taking pictures of the progress. It’s amazing to see how fast the work is completed. Here are some pictures from right before Christmas (the missing garage) and this week (walls and roof installed).

Hopefully after next weekend, we’ll have a working half bath!