Archive | May, 2010

The Day of Progress

May 31, 2010


Enough with the “uprooting, tearing down, destroying, and overthrowing”– it’s time to build and plant!!! Here are some photos of Day 15 of The Kitchen Renovation of All Time. πŸ™‚

Tell me this is cool. THIS is cool, ladies and gentlemen! It’s my new Laundry Alcove! Oh, it may look like just a skeletal wall of lumber and nails, but I see my washer and dryer in here, happily chugging away, concealed behind lovely beige bi-fold doors. *undulations of ecstatic contentment* ahhhhhh Thanks for doing this, guys!

Laundry Closet Framing

Here we are, removing that lousy kitchen window, the bane of our existence here. I was practically dancing with glee to see it go!

Removing Window

Removing Old Window2

Even the hole in the wall is an improvement.

Removing Window3

The new window will be 60 inches by 48 inches, double the size of the old. AND it will have sliding panes, so I can open it. We are in the process of creating a rough opening for it– not an easy job. Old homes were built with lumber sizes that are no longer standard today. We have to make adjustments for these; the old beams are a true 6 inch by 6 inch, and old studs are a true 2 inch by 6 inch; who makes these anymore?! Everything is machine-planed now, so while lumber may be called a 2 x 4 or 2 x 6, it is actually 1.5 x 3.5 and 1.5 x 5.5. The discrepancies make for an, uh, exciting time. I think I finally figure out the dimensions for our new opening, but it will take some fanagaling… *sigh*

During a break, I wandered out to the garden. Ugh, it’s quite weedy. I haven’t done a thing to it since we planted the crops and repaired the fence, three/four weeks ago.

Weedy Garden

And we have electricity in the downstairs bathroom again! Yay!


The entire Dining Room has been wired! We intend on running wires up to the bedrooms in the next few weeks, too. Once this is completed, all the electric in the house will be completely modernized.

Things are starting to take shape! o/

My plans for this week are:

  • Work on the rough opening for the window
  • Run wiring to the bedroom above the Dining Room
  • Buy materials needed for the next work day
  • Talk to the town codes guy about running gas lines for direct vent gas heaters (more on this later)
  • Repair bad floor joists above and below the kitchen
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Kitchen Before and After

May 29, 2010


It’s probably difficult for you to “see” exactly how the walls and floor plan of the house look. Pictures can only do so much, it seems. I’m trying to take “before” and “after” photos to help you visualize the radical changes we are implementing here. Here’s one:

This is a view of part of the kitchen before we removed all the cabinets. Note the laundry room wall to the right of The Hubs. I have hated that room ever since we bought the house. It’s a long, narrow little hallway with a washer crammed in one on side, and a dryer crammed in on the other, and two doors in between them. Very awkward.

Kitchen Before LR Wall

My daughter is standing where the laundry room door once stood. It was quite an adventure to get that wall down. You can read a fanciful rendition about it at Chuckella Norris Strikes Again. Actually, the entire demolition scenario was hair-raising and hair-pulling all at the same time. :S Ah, but now it is over. I’m praying for smooth sailing.

Gutted Kitchen

Opening up this area makes a world of difference. And we also removed a small partition on the other end of the kitchen, leading to the dining room. The original entry into the dining room was a very narrow, cobbed-up doorway. It was knuckle-scraping to carry a laundry basket through the doorway, let alone have four kids clear the dining room table after dinner! So we removed the two studs there (they were not load-bearing) and opened up the space. WOW what a difference. The kitchen is really huge (12 x 23).

Ugliest Kitchen1


In Kitchen Looking to DR

We removed the wall where the refrigerator stood in the previous photo.

We intend on installing a half wall where the refrigerator once stood. I’ll have plants there and a base cabinet or two, for the purpose of serving dinnerware for the dining room. I think the flow of the kitchen will greatly improve.

Our rebuilding process begins this week!!

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A Great Power Saving Device!

May 29, 2010

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I’ve been concerned with those “vampire” electronics in the house these days. Because we’re renovating, I’ve moved the family television into one of the bedooms. And every time I pass by that blasted device, I hear the “tick tick tick tick” of the power. And this is when it is OFF. Gah! I hate those “vampire’ electronics!! They nag at my frugal brain. I cannot fathom why these things would be made in the first place! They consume precious electricity even when they are not being used?! That’s terrible!

Yeah, yeah, place a power strip and turn it off when the devices are not in use, everyone says. That isn’t very practical for me, because my power strip not only holds the TV and DVD player, but also my alarm clock and lamp– things I WANT to have accessible at all times. And I don’t want to have two cluttering power strips in the same outlets and area. It’s a waste. Ugh.

I spotted a device on at and was wowed. It’s a Tripp Lite ECO Energy Efficient UPS device. UPS stands for Uninterrupted Power Supply. This is terrific! This is from the description:

Now you can protect your valuable electronics, save money on your utility bill and be kind to the planet! Tripp Lite’s environmentally friendly ECO550UPS standby UPS system is the ideal green solution for complete protection against blackouts, brownouts and power surges. Its 550VA/300-watt power handling capacity supports entry-level PC systems for up to 17 minutes during blackouts. With a power efficiency rating of 99%, the ECO550UPS offers energy savings plus cooler operation by limiting UPS power consumption to less than 3 watts!

The ECO550UPS provides 4 battery-supported outlets for computer, monitor and other vital system peripherals, plus 4 surge suppression-only outlets for accessories not requiring battery support. Three of the surge-only outlets are ECO outlets that can be configured to automatically power off unused computer accessories like printers or multi-media speakers when the computer is not in use. Built-in single-line RJ11 jacks protect a modem, fax machine or phone. One USB port (USB cable included) plus free PowerAlert software (available via Web download) enables unattended system shutdown without data loss in the case of extended power failure. The ECO550UPS comes with $100,000 Ultimate Lifetime Insurance coverage for connected equipment (USA/Canada only) and a 3-year product warranty.

I already have a UPS device for my main computer, but do need a few more for the other electronic stations we have here. The price is very good, about $50 and it includes shipping. I highly recommend UPS devices, especially now that thunderstorm season is upon us. Our electronics are too valuable to be fried by power outages, power surges, and power fluctuations. Plus, end the vampire suckage, lol! Definitely worth it, in my opinion.

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Find the Kitty Friday 5/28

May 28, 2010


We snapped this photo before we gutted the dining room. Where could she be?!

FTK 5.28.2010

I do like the old red walls. We will be painting them red again. The dark wall color and light trim helps to settle down the room a bit. The dining room is like the house’s passageway, as it connects the front entry to the living room, and the kitchen to the living room. Plus, it’s also the only access to the basement and the attached garage. PLUS it has four windows! It’s a very, very busy room and requires more careful thought and attention. Anyway, I’m going to be sparse in my furnishing for this room, too– emphasis on traditional style and elegance.

Our week has been in a lull; we’re doing mostly things like cleaning up, planning the next steps, etc. We intend to start back up on Sunday, and from then on, it’s gung ho renovation. I’ll have more about what stuff we’re installing (my new dishwasher arrives tomorrow!!) and how we will install the PEX plumbing supply and ethernet wiring… oh, lots of stuff! Thanks for reading!

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Searching For a Jigsaw

May 28, 2010

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Is ANYTHING made in the United States anymore??

We’ve been shopping for jigsaws. We have an old Skil saw that is, to put it bluntly, crap. We got it about 12 years ago (OMG I just realized that it was probably our first power tool that we bought!). It’s been through a lot, but it never worked well anyway. So we’ve been looking for a suitable replacement… and WHOA baby… tooooo many choices! And none of them very good! So much is made in China! Why is that?! Sheesh. The Hubs greatly dislikes the cheapo pressed tin housing that everything seems to come in. Even the Craftsman is a little chintzy-looking. We’d like a DeWalt (that’s what all the pros use, it seems), but DeWalt is WAY out of our league. I can’t see paying $300 for a jigsaw.

Oooo but I found something very cool today! A DeWalt DW317K Compact Jigsaw Kit at!!! This is the lowest price I have found yet, $150! It’s got orbital action (a must-have for me), and ALL METAL housing, and a steel case. Very nice!!!!

I know– I’m a rare breed of woman that gets ecstatic about power tools. But you know, back in the “olden” days when we first bought our home, the only tools we owned were a hammer, a hand saw, and a Phillips screwdriver. Believe it or not, I used to cut my wood BY HAND and then I screwed it in BY HAND with the screwdriver. NOT FUN. So that’s why I flip out over power tools. I LOVE them. πŸ˜€

Score another for! Thanks, dudes, for offering great prices on quality stuff!

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Planning a Digital Kitchen

May 28, 2010

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The best thing about tearing apart the entire kitchen is getting to rebuild it EXACTLY as you want it. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. πŸ˜€

I’m planning on wiring the entire house for ethernet, so that we don’t have to rely on wireless Internet so much. I have four teens, and I’m a computer geek, so we have a ton of devices on the Net. All that activity can slow things down a bit, especially via wireless. Plus, I like the security of wired stuff. Anyway, I’m planning on building at least one ethernet port into every room, and my eventual goal is to rig it all up to a control panel with switches and hubs. It’ll take some work (plus, getting the plumbing and electrical in is *kinda* a priority right now!). I’ll lay in the wires while the walls are open, and then I’ll hook it all up later.

I’m also planning on a multi-media center (next year I will build the room addition for that). But I do want to incorporate some media in the kitchen. We don’t have TV, I dislike TV, but I do like to have Internet capability and we definitely want music in the kitchen. So I’m looking at my options… I’ve always wanted an under-cabinet player, always. They are so efficient, s space-saving! This nice Sony Undercabinet Clock Radio and CD Player caught my eye. It doesn’t have an iPod dock, though…. but the price is really right- under $72. That’s a great price; my local Big Box retailer had something similar for $30 more. The Sony Undercabinet Player is, of course, at I’m going there more and more for our household needs, as well as our electronic gadget stuff. It is a superb store! The service is incredible, and I always get really good prices. πŸ˜€

So…. my dream list is lengthening, lol. But I absolutely MUST incorporate music into the kitchen if I want the kids to help me out with kitchen chores! They’re getting a little tried of lugging out the big CD boom box to play their dish-washing music!

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A Day Off Today

May 25, 2010


Today is our Sabbath rest day from work. We chugged along for nine days, packing up the kitchen and dining room, setting up a temporary kitchen in the garage, and demolishing the kitchen and dining room. What a wild ride! It’s like life just STOPPED during that time. I even forgot to water my baby tomato seedlings, and they died. πŸ™ I guess I’ll have to buy plants from the home center this year.

Anyway, we are thrilled that the demolition is DONE! We are now entering the planning stage, now that the walls are open and we can see exactly what’s going on within the structure.

Kitchen From DR 2

The gutted kitchen, as viewed from the dining room.

The very good news is that few partition walls in this house are load-bearing. It’s rather odd. The house seems post-and-beam with balloon frame walls. In case you are wondering what balloon frame is, I wrote a post about it: Up, Up and Away. It’s called balloon frame for two reasons: one, the studs along the exterior of the home start at the sill plate (the top of the stone foundation) and go allllll the way up up up to the roof rafters; two, the hot air balloon was just coming into vogue at the same time as this unusual style of framing. The history of the balloon frame design is interesting. It is, however, an inefficient method for home building today, because it requires vast lengths of solid beams, which is not economically attainable. The balloon frame house also has two things against it: the second storey relies on the strength of nails to hold it up on ledger boards; and the long voids created inside the walls from the basement sill to the attic rafters is a fire hazard– there is nothing to stop a fire from racing up the walls to the attic.

Cut Nails1

Old style "cut nails." These were some of the first machine-made nails in this area.

Cut Nails2

This is a machine-made "cut nail"; these nails were manufactured in the U.S. from 1820 to 1910. Nails were previously hand-forged.

My home has some slight variations of the balloon frame that make it a little stiffer and safer. For one, instead of relying solely on nailing the second storey floor system to ledgers, the builder created beams with notches to set the floor joists. That was swell of him. Secondly, inside the first floor walls, the builder installed brick noggin. I assume this was for the purpose of making fire stops. It also helps to keep the house very cool in the summer. However, it’s also cool in the winter. :S And the noggin interferes with the placement of plumbing, electrical, and insulation (all these were implemented into housing decades after my house was built). If you are interested in reading about the history of Mr. Rogers– the guy who built my home– you can read about it here: Our History. I often wonder what Mr. Rogers would think if he knew his house was still standing.

The studs are still very straight and stiff. I’m impressed that, after 155 years, the studs are so straight. I recently (this week) discovered two support joists that have serious cracks, however. We have to fix these immediately. And the house does sag in the center– it has ever since we bought it. I think the sag is due to the inept “improvements” of previous owners, who hacked into the support structure and had no idea what they were doing. Before I can replace the walls, I need to meticulously inspect them and add support where necessary. After this, we can add electric, plumbing, etc. I’ll have loads more on this to come.

Straight Studs

These studs are incredibly straight after 155 years.

P.S. In case you are wondering just how much stuff we removed from these two gutted rooms: the weight came to over 3.5 TONS!

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Demolition is DONE! *thud*

May 24, 2010


Our dumpster is absolutely overflowing. Overflowing is actually an understatement, lol. BUT THE DEMOLITION is DONE!!! How I have waited for this day! It took us six full days, working 6-8 hours every day. I am SO sore, lol! But I am thankful it’s done.

After we demolished the kitchen, we progressed into the Dining Room.

DR Ceiling Down

Ceiling Down DR

This room was more difficult because there are so many corners, so many windows and doorways. There are TEN openings in this room– four windows and SIX doorways. And that does not count the basement and garage entry doorway (I’m not gutting that section until next year). We broke no windows, although I did break a window sill. πŸ™ I have to repair that this week.

And to Lin, who left a comment that she misses the multi-colors of the old kitchen (I hope you were being sarcastic there!! LOL), well, the dining room was JUST as colorful.

The old dining room ceiling was a salmon pink. I don’t know when it was painted this color… I assume sometime before the 1980s, because the previous owners installed a drop ceiling sometime around then.

Its Pink

Wow. That’s quite… pink.

(The red walls are mine.)

The old color for the dining room walls were once a mustard yellow. Could it possibly have been salmon pink and mustard yellow in this room?!?!? Whoa.

As for Livvy, she is growing very, very impatient with us. She is sick and tired of being cooped upstairs, away from all the action. We are trying to get the place cleaned up before she is allowed downstairs. She insists that we hurry up, or she is coming down one way or another without our help.

Livvy By Joists

She's trying to squeeze through an old heater vent opening! Egads! It's a 10 foot drop. πŸ™ We covered the hole.

And this is a snapshot of our temporary kitchen, in the attached garage. It’s very cramped, but I think my daughter has made it rather cozy.

Temp Kitchen

So onward we go…. I’m so glad demolition is over. It’s horrible, nasty exhausting work. We’ve never spent so many days doing it. Six days is long enough. I think we are all very relieved the worst is over.

We didn’t find any buried treasure. πŸ™ But Hubs found two pennies dated 1946 and 1956, which is about when the heating system was installed (and installed poorly, I might add).

So this week, we clean out the residual plaster dust and cobwebs, throw junk in a second dumpster, and start the rebuilding process. Oh, and I also have to earn some more money to pay for all this stuff… so far, I have managed to pay cash for everything as I go along. I’m praying we do not incur debt for this project. I have no idea how I’m going to get my cabinets and countertops and flooring, but all in good (and God’s) time.

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Find the Kitty 5.21.10

May 20, 2010


Find the Kitty Friday

FTK 5.20.10

Where could she be?!

By the way, that large X on the wall is my mark for an electrical outlet that I’d installed in the room. Next year, we hope to gut and renovate all the rooms upstairs….

Marg recently asked how Livvy was doing during our massive Kitchen Renovation of All Time. Well, she’s OK. Based on the little I see her these days. We installed a door at the foot of the stairs, and she’s locked up there, away from us, for most of the day. I miss her terribly (and I’m sure she is very lonely!), but I cannot have her running around the plaster dust. So she’s doing OK, but she’s very lonely, and bored, upstairs. We hardly see her at all until night time, when she sleeps on my feet all night.

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May 20, 2010


Kitchen and Laundry Room are gutted! Glory to God! Yay!

Kitchen Gutted

This is what is was like two days ago:

Kitchen DAY2

We worked 6 hours today with one break. I called it quits early. We are totally beat. Wow. Thank God for coffee, which is perking right now.

And to the brilliant dudes who invented sheetrock? ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU. People, there IS a reason why plaster and lathe is not installed any more. Rest assured, it is a very, very good reason.

I’m also very hapy to report that we now have running water once again, thanks to the brilliant Hubs. AND we have a washing machine hooked up in the basement! Hurray! Hubs is actually very good at plumbing, because he is such a neatnik and loves detailed work. He shoulda been a cabinet maker or a watch maker. He’s good.

We took SHOWERS and are relaxing this evening. We still have the dining room to and downstairs bathroom to gut… and we have two days in which to do it. The race is on…

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