30 December, 2009

Remodel Update: Office Progress - Texture

Now it's time to texture the walls.  Since we didn't take the shelves down, Greg put up visqueen to protect what little remains in the office.  Those slabs of sheetrock are starting to looks more and more like real walls.  It's fascinating to watch the progress.

It seems that even texturing the walls takes more than one go 'round.  Apparently the sprayer can put out larger, lumpy bits that aren't very attractive.  So you scrape the big bits off, then go again.  Two times?  Three?  I'm not sure - probably two.  I mean, how lumpy to you really want a wall to be??

This weekend should see the end of the texture phase and have us moving right into painting.  Greg asked me a while ago what color we're going to paint the walls.  White, I said.  To match the other walls in the room.  Otherwise, we have to paint all the walls, right?  We'll use the trim, window shades, and room accessories to create the look and feel.  It's supposed to be like a bungalow in a warm, sandy region.  At least, that's where the colors came from for the window shade - and the ceiling fan matches (similar color scheme with the big leaf-like paddles).  The flooring will fit right in.  If I need anything else, I'll use trim color and wall decor to finish up.  How many more things can I not figure out that we should take care of while we're doing this?!?  Good grief!

But it will be absolutely lovely when it's done...

28 December, 2009

Remodel Update: Office Progress - Mud & Sand

Now that the framing for the wall is done, we're focusing on the office.  Mudding, sanding, texture, paint, then flooring.  Greg took time over the long weekend to get some more work done (between movies and Game Night at the Green's - yay, Killer Bunnies!)  Finished the last coat of mud, then it has to dry for a day or two.  Then comes the sanding.

It was like an alien had invaded the house, bringing microscopic dust to coat the sawdust, sand, and grit that's already all over everything.  At least when this whole thing is done, the upstairs will have had a good cleaning.  We don't dust very frequently, but this project is going to force the issue.  I'll just wait until the end - since there's no point in doing it over and over again, right?

Now it's time to texture the new walls.  Again, here's me (the non-remodel, construction, house-builder anything) not thinking.  I figured we'd just move the furniture around as necessary, once it was time to rip up the carpet and install the flooring.  Turns out we need to move the furniture out, since spraying texture at less than two feet (my desk was in the way) is less than ideal.

So once again (see here for a previous episode) - only more so - the contents of the office are disgorged all over the living room, along with Christmas remnants and construction gear.  I'd like to add a cow and maybe a pig or two to the mix, so when it's all gone (again) it'll be as if I live in a mansion!  Greg's desk is broken down, leaning against the wall in slabs.  The computers are set up on the table and an end table.  My rickety old contraption that someone might try to call a desk is in the middle of the room, heaped with assorted construction supplies, Christmas presents, and other oddness.  (It's been a few days since the picture below, and it seems that we were never meant to have any uncovered surface - and that applies to our normal life, not just during this bit of construction.  Apparently the table is really meant for storage of "stuff" until you can't see it and are having problems finding the bills - then it's time to sort through the rubbish and clear a space.  Which will stay nice and organized for about... oh... an hour - then it's collecting again.  Maybe it's the furniture.  All our furniture is possessed.  Because it surely can't be the people, right?)

26 December, 2009

Christmas Cheer

Christmas was a low-key event this year.  Since we've been so busy, it was nice to have some time together where we didn't have any outside pressures and we could relax.  But it was different too.  None of our usual traditions: almost no socialization (and none at all that we normally host), no luminarias, no decorations, none of "our" Christmas music, no Christmas movies.  Going into the holiday season, we knew we weren't going to decorate and our normal traditions would be put on hold.  What I didn't realize was how much those little things mean to me.
Moose across the street on Christmas Day

This year was definitely different, but not terrible - just... odd.  There was plenty of Christmas music on the radio, so when I finally did set up The Wrapping Center, I was able to listen to Christmas music and have my spiced eggnog, just like always. We did attend a lovely holiday party and got to spend Christmas Eve visiting with friends.  And it was nice to spend time together - just the two of us - and relax for a bit.  It's been a hectic winter, thus far.  We met more friends at the theater for a nice chat, some popcorn, and eventually to see a movie (everyone was at the movies Christmas Day - who knew?!? - so we had to get tickets for a later show, then stayed at the theater until we could get in line for decent seats).
Pretty icicles hanging from the eaves

I'm looking forward to next Christmas - when I actually have time to participate in the season; when the remodel is done and we can decorate and bring out our music and movies; when we can plan for some of our other traditions (like luminarias and maybe caroling again - never as harmonious as what I remember from childhood, but always fun and a wonderful way to spend an evening).  Even so, I'm thankful this Christmas for the bounty of our lives; our health and happiness; and the wonders that constantly surround us.  Hope yours was as lovely as ours.

Merry Christmas!!

20 December, 2009

More Remodel Madness

Just because I missed a week blogging, doesn't mean we (that's mainly Greg with help from James - the Royal "We") didn't get things done on the house. It just means that I'm going to combine the progress - and pictures - of two weeks into one post.
Before Getting Started Last Weekend

We're working in the office now. The plan goes like so: sheetrock the new walls; mud the sheetrock; texture the mudded sheetrock; paint the textured, mudded sheetrock; then move stuff around so we can pull up the last of the hideous pink carpet (from that room, anyway); and finally - for this room - lay the flooring (and then move stuff around again, until it's all in its new homes - even if that's exactly where it was before, only without the hideous pink carpet).
James Working Outside the Closet

James in the Closet Again

Last weekend, Greg & James got the sheetrock on the office side of the walls. This includes the newly framed closet - but not the kitchen side of the office wall (which is fine, since we still need to work out some lighting locations before everything gets closed in). It's a little strange to have the rooms divided again, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. =)
Outside the Closet Again

My Rounded Corners w/ One Coat of Mud

This weekend, Greg got in two coats of mud. Because we opted for rounded corners (sounds like an oxymoron, right? I thought so too), it's going to take more time - but look better when it's done. At least three coats of mud to make it right - so says the handyman of the house, and who am I to argue?!?
Action Photos of Mudding

I don't know how long the whole process should take - I leave that up to people who know better than I do (Greg). According to his Facebook post, he thinks he'll be laying flooring by Christmas weekend. Two coats of mud down, and at least one to go - then there's the texture & paint, moving stuff around and pulling up carpet... Four days until the Christmas, then time on the weekend... we *might* be laying flooring (or at least ready to lay flooring) in about a week. Then again, maybe for the New Year? Either way, we're making progress!!

06 December, 2009

Parables are Still Relevant

A parable is a story with a moral, right? Well, I feel kind of like that farmer in the parable. I forget the name of it - maybe someone will know? Anyhow, it goes like this:

It's a farmer with a large family and a small house. He goes to the village wise-man and asks him how to get a bigger house for his family when he doesn't have much money. The wise man tells him to take the chickens into the house. Eeew, I say - I think they're stinky and they'd make a mess, but the guy does it. After some time, the guy goes back to the wise man. He says, "I took the stinky, messy chickens into the house with my wife and two dozen kids. It's more crowded than ever, so how do I get a bigger house? I really need a man-cave."

So the wise man tells him to take the pigs into the house. At this point, I'm hoping this house has dirt floors, so all the animal droppings can just be sprinkled with more dirt or swept out the door. The guy grumbles some, but since it's the recommendation of the wise guy of the village, he decides to do it. I'm not sure how many pigs he has, but the guy is nuts. It's a madhouse as the family tries to live in a small, dirt-floor hut with dozens of kids, loads of chickens, and some swine. The guy goes back to the wise man. "Okay. I put the pigs and the chickens in the house with my family. The girls are grossed out and whining about having to share the bathroom with *real* pigs, the boys are chasing the chickens so they don't lay eggs. This is nuts. And I still need my man-cave, but I don't have the dough to make it happen. What do I do?"

So the wise man tells him to take the cow into the house. And for some stupid reason, the guy decides to do it. Fortunately for his family and the rest of the livestock now residing in the house, there was only one cow. This goes on for a while, but now it's complete and utter chaos in the house and no one can move anywhere without stepping on someone (or something - is it animal or mineral?). His wife is angry all the time, and finally tells him she's going to divorce him if he doesn't do something about the situation. The guy goes back to the wise man. "Look, dude. I did everything you said. I took the chickens into the house. My family squawked, but I did it. Then I took the pigs into the house. It is handy to have the bacon a bit closer, but they can sure eat a lot and my girls don't like sharing their ribbons. Then I brought in the cow. Now it's bedlam. I can't think. I can't sleep. My wife is ready to leave me. And I still don't have enough money to get a bigger house that has a man-cave."

So the wise man tells the guy to go home and take all the livestock out of the house. Lo and behold, when all the animals are removed the house seems quiet and spacious. The family was happy again (particularly after all the animal residue and smell was cleaned out of the house). I'm not sure the exact moral of the story - but it has one. And I don't know if the guy ever got his man-cave, or if he was just content that he got to stay married and the kids stopped squabbling over the bathroom so much. But he was happy too.

Are you wondering what the point of the story is yet? It's my living room. For weeks & weeks now, we've had some of the kitchen cabinets, sheets of plywood, two-by-fours, and tools sitting in the middle of the living room. And today, since the new kitchen wall is framed, Greg moved the stuff back into the kitchen (well, some of it was used up in the process). I have raw plywood floor with a border of hideous pink carpet, but I'm loving that I can see across the living room. (And that the water is hooked back up to the fridge - our tap water tastes *aweful*!)


I haven't done a thing to help with the remodel this week. Greg, on the other hand, has been quite industrious. He re-routed the vent pipe (which involved running it through the floor, sending it up in a new spot, then going into the attic to re-route tubing there too), framed in the new kitchen wall and bedroom closet, then moved the cabinetry from the living room back into the kitchen. He did a fair amount on his own, and then James graciously spent his weekend helping to make it possible to move my "chickens and pigs" back into the kitchen.
Moving the Vent Pipe
Raising the Wall
More Raising and Framing

Routing Things in the Attic

The Wall

The Wall & the Closet

James in the Closet, Cabinets in the Kitchen
I know we're not done. It's nowhere near close to being done. But I'm seeing definite results - and I *love* having more space in the living room... =)

29 November, 2009

Weekend Shenanigans

We had a little setback this weekend. Greg's car quit working at some point on Thursday - Thanksgiving, of all days! He went to the store in the morning, and we used my car to go to the movies... so it came as a total surprise when he tried to go to work on Friday and the car wouldn't start. So instead of working on the remodel project on Saturday, he spent the day (with help from Todd - thanks, Todd!) working on the car. And then he spent Sunday morning getting the car towed to the dealership (thanks, Aaron & James!). I'll be taking him to work for the next few days, and he'll be at the mercy of co-workers or friends for a ride home in the afternoons (or buses or cabs).

The good news is that it should be fixable. The bad news is that this is unplanned time and money spent on the car instead of the house. Ah, well. It's not like we were thinking it'd be done this weekend anyway.

The goal for this weekend: finish moving the power to its new location, move the floor vent for the kitchen, and redirect the downstairs bathroom vent (the black PVC tube that's sticking up through what is now almost the middle of the living room). Because of the whole car-thing, they (Greg & James - thanks again, James!!) didn't get as much done as Greg had initially planned. Two more "powers" to move - one is actually a light switch, and the other a plug; and moving the vent to the downstairs bathroom.

But there's been progress. And we're a little closer to being able to frame in the new walls. I am definitely looking forward to having the new walls in place - at least so we can temporarily move the counters back into the kitchen... Stay tuned for the details of our progress for next weekend! =)

26 November, 2009

Giving Thanks

It was a low-key day for us today. Didn't go visiting, didn't have company. I slept in. Greg did all the cooking - pies last night, breakfast, and later the stuffing filled turkey breast with some traditional sides. We watched some of the Macy's day parade, played Wii RockBand, and went to see a movie. I feel a little recharged - glad there's only Friday (should be a busy, but easy day) then the weekend. Next week is going to be a crazy one, so I'm glad I will have had some time to rest and get ready.

In the spirit of the day, I assigned myself a task to detail 5 things I'm thankful for and why. Here goes:

1. Greg. He brought me flowers yesterday, and did all the cooking today. Such simple things mean the world to me right now. They should mean the same always, but that's just not my reality. Right now, I'm stressed and prone to over-reaction. He's taking it in stride and above that, doing what he can to help me detox and be ready for more - which I need, more than I can say. He's a big support, and he does a pretty fine job of putting me back together when I fall apart. He believes I can do so much more than I believe I can, so sometimes I borrow some of that mojo and find out that I can do more than I thought. He's enthusiastic about life in general and new adventures in particular (my polar opposite, in that regard).
2. Family. The only thing that could have induced me to be social today would have been having any of my siblings around, particularly my sisters. I did get to talk to some of my family - it's hard to talk to everyone when that entails 4-6 different phone calls - and I thought of each of them. Sheri cooked, and Sara & Jeannea joined her; Dave & Mom spent the day together; Aaron, Mari, & baby Amy were together; I hope M was able to spend some time with family. It's comforting to think of them, even though it seems as if we're worlds (and small fortunes) apart.

3. Friends. Although I haven't been doing much in the way of visiting lately, I am thankful for the friends I have. They're smart, funny, caring people - each of them different by turn - and my life is better for having known them. They make me laugh; they give me strength; they listen to me vent; they offer advice but don't loathe me if I don't take it; they help me navigate the insanities of being alive.

4. Job. I do have a decent job. I've got medical benefits, some retirement, and it's relatively secure. Sure, it's super-stressful right now, and this next few weeks I may only get to see my husband as he's getting ready for work in the morning, or in the dark as he yelps when I put my iceblock feet against his hotter-than-the-furnaces-in-Hell legs. (I honestly don't know how he can use the same blankets as me and end up practically melting everything that directly touches him, and yet I can lay for hours waiting for the electric blanket - on the highest setting, and only on *my* side of the bed, since I don't want him to spontaneously burst into flames - to thaw through the invisible ice that's apparently crusted 'round my various extremities.) But I don't have to worry about how we're going to pay the bills and finding a new job in this tough economy. I'm grateful for the job I have right now.

5. Cheese (and bacon). I haven't had a cheese that I don't like yet. And we've tried lots of different varieties. Now, it's true that I'm not as fond of the cheeses with fruit in them (like that one with blueberries we had a while ago), but it was still good. I really like the one we had today - some form of white cheddar with crushed black pepper marbled throughout. Cheese on pizza, bleu cheese dressing, microwave nachos after a long day at work... Mmmm, cheese... and we all know that bacon makes everything better, so how could I leave that out?!?

I hope your day was filled with love & laughter, and you continue to have many, many things to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

17 November, 2009

The Remodel Continues...

In order to move the walls, we have to move the power. In order to move the power, the carpet has to come up and we've got to cut into the "floor" (subfloor?) to route the wires to their new homes.

Did you know that when you take up carpet that's been down for a long time, it's almost like you've got your own sandbox underneath? I was amazed at how much sandy grit was underneath the pad. If it weren't so difficult to lay & pull carpet, I'd recommend changing it every other year or so (especially for those with allergies), or just get wood/laminate flooring. Oh yeah. We're working on that. =)

James was over to help this weekend - THANKS, JAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - and blessed our remodel job with First Blood. Turns out, when you're on a ladder underneath the remains of the stud wall, those nails that're still there can be pokey. And draw blood. Thanks for the sacrifice (and again for the help!), James. I'm sure it will all go better because of you. =)

It also turns out that there's not all that much between the floor you're walking on and the room below. Basically, it's that layer of plywood, sitting on wood beams that have sheetrock tacked to the bottom side of them (which then becomes the ceiling of the room below). That's it. Since I'm rather clumsy, I could picture myself - all too well - stumbling, accidentally stepping into one of the holes in the floor, and ending up in the bedroom (or the garage). I'd either hit the bed - after rebounding off the headboard - or land on top of the freezer. Neither is appealing, so I stayed away from the holes.

And you should pay special attention here: When your husband cuts plywood in the kitchen (for any purpose really, but in this case to cover the gaping holes in the non-floor so I don't go crashing through to the freezer below), any dishes on the counter will need to be washed again. Or you'll have to realize that you're getting some extra fiber when you use them. Our silverware is on the countertop (that will be rectified with the new cabinetry - practically the end of the project). I've opted to get some extra fiber - or if it just looks too chunky for me, I'll wipe it off (probably on my shirt) before I use it. Looks like it's a good thing we're not doing any more entertaining until this whole deal is done, right?

And here's me sitting in the office (paying bills - bleh!). It's a contrast in styles (to say the least!) to see the still-carpeted. "normal" portion where I'm at, and the construction zone not one foot away. It'll probably be like that for most of the winter. But it'll be *great* when it's done... It'll be great when it's done!!

08 November, 2009

Remodel - Phase I (Flooring): Stud Removal

The goal for this weekend was two-fold: clean up the rest of the Halloween decorations, and remove the studs from the kitchen/office wall. We moved the cabinets from that wall (again) - they're sitting in the living room now. In order to take the uppers down, we had to empty them out. So all the dishes are currently in stacks on the table. At least they're organized (somewhat) and easily accessible. We're not planning on doing any more entertaining until the remodel is done so as long as we can get to everything, I don't suppose it matters much where it is.

Greg did all the stud removal. I helped with cleanup - getting the boards moved outside, picking up nails, and vacuuming. It didn't take as long as I anticipated. In fact, Greg intended to do more, but the weekend kind of got away from us. He'll probably be doing more during the week, but most of my participation is relegated to weekends.

I think the next part involves moving the power - I banged my head on the light switch a couple times as I was picking up debris. Now that there's no wall, the power's in an awkward spot. Moving power involves tearing up more things. The floor for one, and maybe some of the ceiling too. Once the power's in its new home, it'll be time to re-frame the walls in the new layout.

Side note: I thought that by starting with the flooring, we'd be breaking the overall project into smaller, more manageable chunks. Turns out, the flooring is the last thing you lay down before finishing a room. It makes sense, now that Greg's explained it to me, but I hadn't thought of it that way before. Got to put the wall(s) in, sheetrock, texture, paint, and *then* lay the floor. Otherwise, the floor goes in early then you spend lots of time trying to keep the new floor nice while you're doing the dirty work for other parts of the room. So by the time we get the flooring laid, practically the only part of the remodel left will be the cabinets. Huh.

07 November, 2009

Life Lesson #76: How to Care for Your Monster

Things are crazy around here. I suppose they're normally crazy, but it seems it's even more so right now. I'm spending long hours at work for a large project that's under my care. It should be done before Christmas, but that's still seven weeks away. So Greg has to put up with me being late getting home (a couple nights so far it's been after 10pm), sometimes working on weekends, and the remodel is going to eat up the rest of the free time.

My "down-time" normally consists of sleeping, reading, or playing on the computer - very low-key. On the flipside, Greg is normally enthused about being busy. And as long as it's not work, it seems that the other stuff gives him enough of an outlet that he's recharged and ready come Monday morning. Whether it's remodeling, hiking, photo shoots, geocaching, or board meetings, it doesn't seem to matter. He can cram all those things into the after hours or weekend time (sometimes all in one week), and be ready for the coming week. I, on the other hand, seem to need the opposite - to hole up by myself and focus on some kind of mental escape.

Remodeling doesn't really fall into any of my relaxation categories, and so doesn't allow me to recharge for the coming week. But I feel guilty leaving all that work to Greg, so I'll have to figure out a way to get it all done. I just have to last through Christmas, then one of the big projects is done (work), and I'll have more time to relax even with the remodel continuing.

Greg has been a champ so far. He watched me melt down today. Slowly at first, and then faster & faster until I was just a red, teary-eyed monster with fuzzy hair. Then he helped me put myself back together so I have a semblance of sanity. I think I'll have to get him this book:

(I found the book cover image and a cool write-up here. Didn't realize the author of the book - Norman Bridwell - also wrote the series for Clifford the Big Red Dog.)

Putting me back together apparently includes lots of hugs; a shoulder to cry on; tissues to blow my nose; a nap; and some chocolate peanutbutter ice cream with a brownie. I think I will be ready for Monday... =)

02 November, 2009

Halloween Madness

Halloween was quite the event this year. We spent most of the day prepping - plenty of cleaning and cooking to do, as well as the decorating. (Special thanks to James, who came over early in the afternoon to help with everything, and Todd & Anita, who brought extra decorations and provided all the pictures for this blog!)
It's always fun to see what people come up with for costumes. Unfortunately for me, I can never think of anything clever. Last year, I had to use the grab bag for my costume. (We encourage guests to come dressed for the event, but provide a bag of items in case you're Imagination Challenged, like me.)

Decorating was especially fun, as we used the bare studs and raw framework from the remodel efforts to enhance the atmosphere. Had to keep the cats from trying to eat the fake spiderwebs. =) But, man! All the extra room from removing the fireplace was especially apparent. Much better people flow, and no bottleneck at the food. Yay!

Greg's costume took him almost 30 minutes to do - and was a surprise to even me. He looked like some zombied, strung-out member of an off-Kiss band. Definitely a great costume, but I'm glad it was a wig & paint... My costume was a hat with green & white braids and a tye-dyed t-shirt. Simple, easy to put together, but not very creative. Greg, on the other hand, made at least two trick-or-treaters cry when he answered the door and intoned "braaaaiinnnnssss"...

Every year, I think that next year I'll get the decorations out early, so I can actually enjoy them for more than a few hours. We have bats, a graveyard, and spiderwebs for the yard and walkway, as well as some lighted window decorations too. Even if we didn't do the inside decorations, the rest would be nice to have out for a couple weeks. Maybe next year...

We recently invested in RockBand Beatles for the Wii and brought it out for the party. Had lots of fun playing it with my family last Christmas, and I was excited for this one since I already know lots of the songs. Granted, I apparently have absolutely no coordination or rhythm (I scored 19% on guitar for one of the easy songs - *lots* of room for improvement!), but it was a blast and I do fine as a backup singer.

All-in-all, it was a successful event. Plenty of food and beverage for all, a few slightly terrified kiddies (mollified with several extra handfuls of candy), and bloodshed (but only Greg's - side-note: a footrace backwards in the middle of a cold night when you're three sheets to the wind isn't the greatest idea, as it can lead to a nasty bump on the head, some bleeding, and a bit of road rash...).