Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This & That Projects; Out of Doors, Y'all: 1

Now that the kitchen is alllllmost done-enough and we're legitimately into summer, I am trying to accomplish several smaller outdoor projects.

First up! Painting the exterior trim work around the windows and possibly the doors. Did I remember to take before photos specifically for this? I did not. Here's a generic before photo for a cold, distant reference.


[ here I was going to put a photo of the whole house to show how it looked before the trim paint, but it turns out that when I take a picture from the yard you can't tell much of a difference between the before and after looks. Huh. ]

I chose a green similar to one of the couple-three lichens/mosses we have around the property. It's less yellow to better coordinate with the siding. Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior, HC-119 Kittery Point Green, low lustre finish.



Since the two large picture windows on the front of the house and a couple of the windows in the mudroom (which is an amateurishly enclosed porch) are white vinyl and the rest of the windows are white-painted wood I decided to leave the windows themselves white and just paint the moulding.

I'm going to be straight with you and say that from a distance, i.e. in the yard, you can't see much of a difference. Partly because the first floor is half a story off the ground and there's deck railing in the way to boot.

Among the project for later this summer are making the front door higher, so we can use a door mat inside (right?) and making the exterior door in the mudroom (described above) closer to airtight... well mostly we're going for rodent tight. Yeah. Ugh. Renaissance Handyman Nick is on tap for that project and when those are done there will be some repaint magic going on those, too.


STATUS: Five of the eleven windows are done! Balcony door trim has been done, too. It's Benjamin Moore Regal Select Exterior, HC-166 Kendall Charcoal, low lustre finish.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

One Step at a Time: Kitchen Edition, Gather 'Round the Fireside

Moving on to really getting the other side, i.e. the "fireside," of the room whipped into shape. Also, guess who has two thumbs and hinge screws... THIS GAL! [points thumbs at self]


One week ago.

1. Paint wood stove and stovepipe.

Painting the wood stove went easily and quickly. I had fans in the front and back doors pointed in the direction of the back door to draw as many of the fumes as I could right out that door next to the stove. I wore a respirator, Delia went upstairs behind a door in a room with an open window, and Betty was at work with Eric. This product has a pretty quick evaporation/dry time* so by the time I cleaned up and took my respirator off it was pretty mild. Still Delia and I ran some quick errands just to let it keep airing out, then when we got home we did some fetching.

*Because of the quick dry time, there was no avoiding applicator marks. I chose to apply to a small area and then stipple it out rather than have brush marks. 

The result is pretty pleasing. The color we chose is "Metallic Charcoal" but I would describe it as looking more like graphite. I think it's going to look pretty sharp when we get those darn bricks grey-ified. Even though this project came a week later than anticipated, it might have been the perfect weather for it; outside air not to cold, but not so warm it was ridiculous to have a fire with the doors open. They say it could off-gas or smoke a bit for the first few fires, so it was necessary to waste the wood. And now that we see the color of the paint live and applied, we know we'll have to do something else with the rest of the stove pipe. Perhaps that is part of Phase 2.

2. Do something with the terrible brick veneer wood stove surround.



It took 3.75 tubes of the "mortar" to get all the cracks n' crevices filled. But I did get them filled and then I finally got those dirty, red, brick-bastards primed with two coats grey primer. YAHOO!



We are a couple weeks out from having the new shelf made and installed, but I sourced my kiln-dried, fir 4x4s at the local lumber yard, went back for them, then prepped and stained them. We're calling Renaissance Handyman Nick back for installation; he has the tools and the experience.

3. The flex-track light situation.

First, a small rant. It's great to get the email notifications when your item is shipped with tracking information and such. GREAT, I say! Some online retailers' emails say "your shipping label has been printed" and I LOVE THAT. Because if you tell me, "your order has been shipped" and then for three days I see something like "your order is en route to the shipping company" or "shipping information has been received" it makes me worry. Where's my stuff? Is it lost? Did someone misplace it? What's going on? How about just an accurate statement, guy? If that is your real name.



Second, the 2nd fixture arrived on Thursday, went up on Saturday, and we're digging it for the most part. I might decide to replace the halogen bulbs with LEDs, because I don't think I like the way these make the cabinet finish look. Plus, LEDs generate a lot less heat and therefore are more energy efficient.


4. Counter top leveling.

The counter has been level and in regular use for weeks. Maybe months, at this point.

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

By leveling the counter from the high point, much of the counter is taller. The area on either side of the drop-in stove especially so. Taller than the adjustable feet will make the stove! Uh-oh. It turns out they don't just make appliance feet with longer bolts either... or at least not according to the appliance repair people I talked to. They also don't carry that kind of thing at hardware stores. I thought, "well, maybe I can find some pre-made wood furniture legs to paint" and after that I just let it slide while I worked on other things. THEN one day a couple weeks ago when I was poking around those little drawers of small bits at the local-est of our hardware stores, I found ELEVATOR BOLTS! I bought one to bring home to compare the size and threads to the stove's feet. THEY MATCH!

In the meantime, the stove has been sitting extra high.

So I went back to get three more and this weekend Eric helped me hold up the stove/move out the 2x4s it has been resting on and install the elevator bolts. The feet aren't quite as suitable for wood floors as actual appliance feet in terms of sliding the stove in and out on them, so we used pieces of cardboard to move it and then pulled them out. It sure was nice to find a fix and for it to cost just $4.36 ($1.09 per foot).



We're really hoping to replace this elderly electric model with a new dual-fuel model in the next year or so. But that means getting a propane tank and trenching for the supply line, etcetera and so on, so it will wait. There is something about new finishes on everything else that makes an old stove look older and shabbier, though.

5. HINGE SCREWS IN THE HOUSE!




ALL THE DOORS ARE ON ALL THE CABINETS! ALL OF THEM! Man, it makes a difference not to see inside the cupboards. Given all the planning and effort that went into modifying the upper cabinets to rid them of the glass fronts, you'd think we'd have realized this more viscerally, but we were even more relieved than we expected when the doors were back up

6. Install picture rail in hallway, etc.

The order arrived, I picked it up, sanded it, conditioned it, stained it, and varnished it.

Blurry photo actually used on the blog? YOU BET! 

It will probably going to be a couple weeks before I will dedicate time to getting it installed. So it goes.


The original list of the order I thought the projects will happen. Line through for complete items, italics for additions. I'll let myself do partial line throughs for partial completion, because it's good for my morale. And brown-out for items moved to Phase II.

1. Light fixtures
2. Remove corner shelf in order to...
3. Remove wallpaper and repair walls (& ceiling) as necessary, get temp solution for backsplash
4. Paint walls above cabinets, around wood stove, paint laundry/bath hallway.
5. Cabinet repair, move, modify
6. Refinish cabinets
8. Level, repair, and refinish counter tops
11. New sink and faucet and the counter modifications that go with it.
10. Replace outlets, switches, plates in backsplash.
9. Install backsplash, probably tile
12. New refrigerator surface to replace old new refrigerator surface.
16. Replace light switch and plate in hallway.
14. Replace outlets, switches, plates by wood stove.
15. Paint wood stove and stovepipe. 
7. Maybe try to do something with that terrible brick veneer wood stove surround and shelf?
13. Build a door of some sort for that too-big hole for the microwave & deal with the inside.
17. Install picture rail in hallway and that one wall behind the wood stove for now.



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

One Step at a Time: Kitchen Edition, So Much Minutia

The fireside of the room is starting to change, but it's extenuating circumstances all the way down. Speaking of extenuating circumstances, new lights! Again.



1. Paint wood stove and stovepipe.

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

Cussity-cusscuss! So, it turns out stripping this stove polish off the stove was a WAY bigger deal than I was expecting/hoping. The area where it would wear and need to be reapplied weren't so bad, but the much larger areas where it didn't wear off & was reapplied anyway took ages and ages. And ages. I'd say that I have about 10 hours into just getting the stove to the point where it can be painted.

Blurry? Meh.

I'd like to wait for a day when Betty goes to the office Eric to do the painting. It's some STINKY stuff and with one fewer set of lungs, compromised lungs at that, to worry about it will be easier to just get it done and damn the torpedoes.



I am sure glad that I had the foresight not to prime or paint the surrounding brick before this, because it would have been ruined. Whew!

2. Do something with the terrible brick veneer.



[ this space intentionally left blank ]



3. Too-big hole for microwave

I'm calling this good for now. I need to be "done" so there will be a Phase II on the kitchen and Phase II will include making doors for this and a few other things. Perhaps when autumn arrives, or maybe even after the winter holidays.

Also blurry. Whatevs.


Having fewer things stored here will help it look tidier in the meantime. Eric's new wok for his new grill (see below) will live on top for now. The digital scale and microwave accessories will find new homes nearby.




4. The flex-track light situation.

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

I messed up. The style I bought and installed was different than the style I thought I was getting... i.e. the style you could hang pendants from. I didn't know that until I bought and painted the pendant adapters. Why painted? Because the cussity-cusscuss home center house brand lighting company didn't have them in the right color anywhere, anyhow. My mistake for not verifying, but their poor merchandising for not making it obvious that they sell two kinds... but not at the actual local outlet of their store. I'm frustrated that I didn't do my own due diligence and even more frustrated that this company - selling pretty specifically to the DIY market - has this very un-DIY-friendly merchandising, etc. I could go on, but instead I will say that after some more research, lots of weighing pros vs. cons, and trying to imagine how we'd feel about living with the lighting as-is, I ordered one of the correct sets just to see it in person - because of course they didn't have any in the store.



You see, I really wanted the pendants over the island and Eric really hates the obvious plastic-ness of the set we have. It's metal colored, but still pretty obviously plastic if you look at it at all critically. Of course, most of the time we don't and no one else would, either. Still be both know what is missing. The order arrived on Thursday: Eric in particular likes the color better and I like that we can have the pendants that I already purchased and even altered, so not returnable. We both like that the new set is dim-able and the bulbs are replaceable. I like that there are more support pieces and they're shorter and while we don't like the look of the lights themselves as much, we don't hate them so much that they cancel out the rest and they're workable with the rest of what we have going on style wise. So enough materials to finish replacing what we have has been ordered and is due later this week!

Old, new fixture.


New fixture.




We've decided that we even have good, new homes for the old-new fixtures: the master closet and the office/craft studio/auxiliary guest room. YAHOO! By installing these in those rooms and moving the existing office/craft studio/auxiliary guest room fixture to the guest room/auxiliary writing room the house will finally be builders' boob light free! YAHOO x 2!

The original list of the order I thought the projects will happen. Line through for complete items, italics for additions. I'll let myself do partial line throughs for partial completion, because it's good for my morale. And brown-out for items moved to Phase II.

1. Light fixtures
2. Remove corner shelf in order to...
3. Remove wallpaper and repair walls (& ceiling) as necessary, get temp solution for backsplash
4. Paint walls above cabinets, around wood stove, paint laundry/bath hallway.
5. Cabinet repair, move, modify
6. Refinish cabinets
8. Level, repair, and refinish counter tops
11. New sink and faucet and the counter modifications that go with it.
10. Replace outlets, switches, plates in backsplash.
9. Install backsplash, probably tile
12. New refrigerator surface to replace old new refrigerator surface.
16. Replace light switch and plate in hallway.
14. Replace outlets, switches, plates by wood stove.
15. Paint wood stove and stovepipe. 
7. Maybe try to do something with that terrible brick veneer wood stove surround and shelf?
13. Build a door of some sort for that too-big hole for the microwave & deal with the inside.





Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Step at a Time: Kitchen Edition, Still Unhinged

If I had my hinge screws, I could say that the kitchen-est side of the room was pretty much done save for a few smaller things. But I don't have my hinge screws... so even though most of the work is pretty much done, it doesn't look all that done.


Five weeks ago. It's getting to be time for a diorama of the current state of affairs.

Shortly after we moved in coming up on four years ago.


1. Deal with the inside of the microwave niche in the cabinets.



I built a little shelf for the microwave to sit on that looks nicer and has a stop in the back to keep it from slowing and unevenly moving back on the side where the controls and door latch are. I was able to use scraps from the counter top reconfiguration for supports and the stop, but bought a small piece of 1/2" plywood from the home center for the shelf itself.

This shows one of the three pieces of unfinished, half-inch plywood that made up the shelf for the microwave.
Originally, I was going to reuse the original pieces, but they were pretty grimy which might inhibit paint adhesion. Plus, you know, ick.



I'll be able to put the microwave back in place the middle of next week.

2. Do something with the terrible brick veneer behind the wood stove.

I got all the loose bricks reattached on the wall and on the base. I even removed some of the old mortar which was actually pretty quick and satisfying.

It felt pretty great to already have this masonry chisel, to remember that I had it, to actually be able to lay my hands on it quickly, and to have it work so well. These are the cut pieces of brick veneer from the base, all I used the chisel for was to remove the mortar.


EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

I also vacuumed the whole thing in preparation for priming and painting, but the next steps will have to wait until I get the stove itself prepped and painted. I'll have to vacuum again and then scrub before proceeding.

3. Paint the wood stove and stove pipe.

The paint arrived on Friday. Prepping the stove is going to be stinky and messy, so I decided to do it on Monday when Eric will be at the office and Betty will be with him. That way there will only be two of us here in the cold and stinky house.

Why there are two outlets so close to the wood stove, I don't know. Why they are at different heights... well, that's just how things are around here.

This is it what we're dealing with. Here are the brick and stove post-vacuum, pre-washed and pre-stripped.

The original list of the order I thought the projects will happen. Line through for complete items, italics for additions. I'll let myself do partial line throughs for partial completion, because it's good for my morale.

1. Light fixtures
2. Remove corner shelf in order to...
3. Remove wallpaper and repair walls (& ceiling) as necessary, get temp solution for backsplash
4. Paint walls above cabinets, around wood stove, paint laundry/bath hallway.
5. Cabinet repair, move, modify
6. Refinish cabinets
8. Level, repair, and refinish counter tops
11. New sink and faucet and the counter modifications that go with it.
10. Replace outlets, switches, plates in backsplash.
9. Install backsplash, probably tile
12. New refrigerator surface to replace old new refrigerator surface.
16. Replace light switch and plate in hallway.
14. Replace outlets, switches, plates by wood stove.
15. Paint wood stove and stovepipe. 
7. Maybe try to do something with that terrible brick veneer wood stove surround?
13. Build a door of some sort for that too-big hole for the microwave & deal with the inside.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

For the Birds, I Said!

So much for bear best practices! The bird feeders were left out again and around 4:15a on Tuesday morning this happened.

I love that the term for this color of black bear is "cinnamon"!

Apparently switching on the porch lights doesn't make a bit of difference to a scavenging black bear, but I think it could hear the click of the camera because it would pause after I took a photo. It would also eat a bit, look around, eat a bit, look around, eat a bit, then go back down the stairs, return a minute later, and repeat. I waited a few rotations so I could get pictures and get a good look - I mean, I hope this is the only time I am ever a yard-and-a-half from a live, loose bear - then I banged on the window with my palm, followed by banging on a metal dog dish with a spoon from the doorway. After it appeared to be gone, Eric and I gingerly sneaked out to retrieve the feeders, both reachable from the deck. Of course, Betty and Delia stayed upstairs and away from any opportunity to give chase.

LATER THAT MORNING: According to the snoots on these dogs, the bear seemed to have come and gone over the fence near the driveway rather than on the National Forest side and also spent some time under the deck.




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

One Step at a Time: Kitchen Edition, The Tedium Continues

The continuing storrrrrrry of a quack who's gone to the dogs. 




I mean, the continuing storrrrrrry of a DIY kitchen remodeling project.



[skipping the triple panorama action on this one and putting in a National Forest panorama instead]

I wish I knew how to capture how the yellow blossoms of the balsams go on and on as far as you can see into the forest. The second most prominent wildflower right now are the lupines.
Note: the fence is actually straight, it's that neato panorama feature!

1. Refinishing the cabinets.

YAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The last of the cabinet refinishing is complete (#6 on the original list)! All I had left was the interior of the corner pantry and despite the dread of dealing with unloading and reloading the contents, I did it.

I'm working on a plan to adjust with how the microwave shelf works. Regardless of how that goes, that unpainted spot won't show. It's my inclination to paint it anyway, BUT I am OUT of the primer and alllllmost out of the paint. Probably going to pick up another quart of each, but I wanted to be sure to have enough paint to cover the new shelf.

Now if only the doors were reinstalled because the special order hinge screws had arrived. A girl can dream.

2. Dealing with that weird (dumb) drywall/exposed beam/pantry door frame mess.



This isn't on the list, because I thought after I re-textured and painted that last wall in the hallway I would continue to ignore it. But it turns out that I can't ignore it.

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

It also turns out that I didn't find any kind of adequate solution in the building hardware section at the home center. Or any of the other sections I tried. This is going to take some thinking.

~~ Instead of a photo of the fix, I will insert an exasperated sigh here. ~~

3. Replace switches an outlets by wood stove (plus the hallway).


Yet again, highlighting the as yet refinished and awful brick veneer.

The terrible brick veneer is on tap to be painted and glazed in mostly greys, so I went with grey switches. I know there are folks who want all the switches/outlets/plates in the house to match each other, but I like them to blend with the surface they're on if I can with the occasional exception for a novelty or decorative plate. The downstairs is nearly complete!

To my eyes, it already looks better to have these updated switches that are all clean and in the new grey color. Eric doesn't see it yet. Maybe my brain just convinces me that I see a difference to justify the frustration and torn up hands of actually doing the project. Maybe Eric just doesn't have my vision. 

Another not-fun, seemingly small project. But well worth it for the result in my opinion.



EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

I have probably ranted about this before, but DAMN IT! Whoever wired this house when it was being built saved something like $5 over the whole project by leaving the least amount of wire possible in the boxes for outlets and switches. Even one more inch/box would make all the difference for replacing these outlets and switches. As if that weren't frustrating enough (and truly it is WAY more frustrating than "enough"), whoever wired this house when it was being built also cut the ground wires extra short. In the case of the light switches they apparently weren't required to be grounded in 1976. Ok. Whatever. BUT they also cut them extra short for the outlets, that indeed were grounded. BUT this means that in some cases there is not enough wire to turn the outlets right side up! Or what we consider right side up. [insert cuss-laden name-calling here]

Of course, they didn't have the grey screw-less plates in stock at the store, so I had to order them online. And of course, I'm too cheap to pay for shipping for this kind of thing and had them shipped to the store. And of course, that means it took about two weeks to get them. The truth is that it doesn't matter that much, because I am not installing them until all the other stuff to do with the wood stove area is done. I just feel better when things are more certain; it's nice to know that as soon as I am ready the materials are here and ready for me.

4. Paint wood stove and stovepipe.

I finally called stovepaint.com to ask my questions and having received satisfactory answers I ordered a quart of the stuff in metallic charcoal. It's due Friday this week at Eric's office where it cost 1/3 less to ship.

L. Unrelated to the kitchen project.


The lilacs are early this year, along with everything else.




Like the balsam (and at least a dozen other types of wildflowers) which have been up for a couple weeks.





And the pine pollen. Crap.



The original list of the order I thought the projects will happen. Line through for complete items, italics for additions. I'll let myself do partial line throughs for partial completion, because it's good for my morale.

1. Light fixtures
2. Remove corner shelf in order to...
3. Remove wallpaper and repair walls (& ceiling) as necessary, get temp solution for backsplash
4. Paint walls above cabinets, around wood stove, paint laundry/bath hallway.
5. Cabinet repair, move, modify
6. Refinish cabinets
8. Level, repair, and refinish counter tops
11. New sink and faucet and the counter modifications that go with it.
10. Replace outlets, switches, plates in backsplash.
9. Install backsplash, probably tile
12. New refrigerator surface to replace old new refrigerator surface.
16. Replace light switch and plate in hallway.
14. Replace outlets, switches, plates by wood stove.
15. Paint wood stove and stovepipe. 
7. Maybe try to do something with that terrible brick veneer wood stove surround?
13. Build a door of some sort for that too-big hole for the microwave & deal with the inside.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bird Feeders are for The Birds!

Just in the last few months the squirrels have discovered the bird feeders. I'm referring to the "regular" squirrels who are trying to be our mortal enemies*, not the flying squirrels who we think are great and are welcome to visit the bird feeders. So, as if that weren't bad enough, Monday night a post-hibernation bear decided to visit the bird feeder, too!  And bend the hook it's hung from to boot!

Please also notice that the before photo has LED string lights, but the after photo does not. *Remember this?

It must have had to get up on the deck to do this, so that's something to think about! It also got into our garbage can and spread some of the contents around, but not too much. Eric was able to pick it up while mostly nekkid in the dark and without his glasses while trying to get Betty back in the house. He'd let her out for mid-night tinkles, but she stayed for the trash frenzy and snuffling around the yard. I did find the wrapper from the pork ribs that Eric barbecued on Saturday out by the vacant chicken coop, though there is no telling if it was the bear or the Betty who drug it out there.

This is our first springtime bear event on the property and has made us decide to try to re-institute bear country best practices, i.e. putting the trash can in the shop instead of by the back door and bringing in the bird feeders at night. I wonder if it's the same bear that "processed" our apples last autumn?

No. No one actually saw the it. In fact, it wasn't until I saw the state of the bird feeder that we became certain there was an interloper at all, let alone a bear.