Archive | August, 2010

Totally Bummed Tonight :-p

August 30, 2010

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We have a short circuit somewhere in one of the electrical lines. It’s the kitchen lighting circuit. šŸ™ šŸ™ While screwing in the underlayment for the kitchen floor last night, we accidentally went through a wire that was too close to the subfloor. *sob* We managed to repair the nicked line and restore the circuit… or so I thought. Today, while turning on the kitchen ceiling fans, sparks came out of the light switch! Boy, was I mad. Had to shut off the entire circuit. So far, I’ve been unable to locate the exact problem. What the heck?! We fixed the short! Now what’s wrong? I’m hoping the short circuit didn’t blow my new (and expensive) ceiling fans!

I am bummed. šŸ™ I have to wait until I have a vehicle to go and get a multimeter tomorrow… even then, I don’t know how to find the short, exactly. It’s so weird, it’s frustrating!

It’s not all roses and music, renovating an old house. Sometimes it really, really stinks!

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The “Tweener” Stage

August 30, 2010

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We’re in the “tweener” stage. That’s the “between” stage– after demolition but before the kitchen is fully operational. Here is where we are, as of today:

KitchenAug30

Yay! šŸ˜€

In case we’ve forgotten from whence we’ve come, this is what it looked like four months ago:

Ugliest Kitchen1

And this was after demolition:

In Kitchen Looking to DR

You can see Livvy in the photos. After demolition, she was stalking around, disliking the change. Now, however, she is relaxing on the floor (well, it’s the underlayment; the final floor goes up soon), much more pleased with the room. šŸ˜€

I have a MILLION little things to do: build shelves, finish the window trim, pipe the gas for the clothes dryer, create a bench and coat rack area for coats and storing rain boots and etc, wire the telephone jacks and network control panel… not to mention the “big” things, like finish the cabinets, install the counters and sink, install plumbing, wire the stove…. whew… but we’re getting there. And notice the dishwasher! I haven’t operated a dishwasher since I was 14 years old. šŸ˜

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Home Security: A Necessity Today?

August 30, 2010

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Remember–way back in the olden days– when most people could leave their doors unlocked and still sleep well at night? Are those days over?

It is a horrible shame that home security is basically a necessity in some parts of the country. Consumer Reports has a good (and free) article about how to boost your home’s security. Among other things, they recommend “kickproof” doors, bright lights, organizing your neighbors into a Neighborhood Watch kind of group, and installing a security system with alarm (but make sure the system is compatible with your voip (voice over Internet protocol) phone system, if you have one); also, there’s the option of hiring a company to manage the system, too.

Not too long ago, a home security system was a system of wires, but crooks figured out that they could cut the wires and disable the system. :-p So home security has gone wireless. I haven’t looked into this avenue very much, but I’ve considered it. From what I hear, wiring and configuring a wireless security system requires a home security team of experts! I can’t even configure my car alarm. :S I’m too afraid that the blasted thing will go off in the middle of the night or while shopping. I don’t think my neighbors would appreciate my home alarm sirens blaring on and off at 2am. (Although, ALL THEIR car alarms go off periodically at that time!).

So what do you think? Do you think your home needs a security system where you live? If you have one installed, does it work well, or do you get bells and whistles at 2am? šŸ˜€

This post is a sponsored post, but all opinions are mine!

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Nice Planters!

August 30, 2010

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Next year, we turn our attentions to the outside gardens, which I have woefully neglected this year. I won’t be planting a vegetable garden in the garden plot (allowing the soil to lie fallow for a year, to replenish nutrients), so we’re looking into small planters for our vegetable produce. I also want to grow strawberries, and I’ll need a special planter for that (hierarchical).

I guess I could always build my own, but I thought I’d take a peek and see what’s available to me online. Look at this gorgeous decorative planter! It’s all plastic– I love using plastic (doesn’t rot, like wood does so quickly around here because it’s so wet).

Isn’t it pretty? It’s also got a pretty price tag, yow. But it will last a long, long time. I need something like that to grow strawberries. Maybe lettuce, too. I like the “cottage garden” look to it. Another nice thing about them is that these kinds of garden planters are very portable– you can move them around anywhere in the yard. I like that option. I’m always changing my mind! šŸ˜‰

Well, winter will soon be here, and I’ll have allllll that time to plan the gardening. That’s the nice thing about winter, it’s a time of repose and planning.

This post was brought to you by your friends at ePlanters.com.

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Renovation Allows You to Build Quirky Things

August 28, 2010

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One of the best things about renovating an old house is all the quirky stuff you can do, now that the walls are open. It makes all the blood, sweat, toil, and tears worth it.

Previously, there was a make-shift pantry “closet” under the stairs. I disliked it, because you had to squeeze around a corner of a wall to get into it (and if you tried to use that section of the kitchen for a fridge or to store boxes, you could not access the stair pantry at all). It had no light, was cramped, and was ugly. I vowed I’d totally close up and waste the floor space before I rebuilt that horrible alcove.

When designing for the new kitchen, I decided to utilize the same space, but make the access from the open side wall of the stairs that faces the kitchen, and not from under the stairs.

StairwellPantry

Old Entrance to Closet. You can see all the kitchen floor space that was wasted just to get IN there.

So we’ve been working on a few creative ideas for this unusual spot beneath the stairs. For one, I wanted a tall, narrow pantry between two studs. It’s VERY tall, and VERY narrow, alright!

Building Pantry

NarrowPantry2

Narrow Pantry

I’m not very concerned that it is so deep. I know there’s the possibility that boxes or cans will be pushed to the back, lost forever… but I don’t care; I need the space. I’ll get one of those grasper-things on a long pole to reach the backseat cans. Or I’ll only stuff big items back there. Whatever. I like the quirkiness of the pantry. šŸ˜€

Next to the pantry shelf, we’ll be placing a large cabinet box with slide-out trash cans. This is a little trickier, because I have to design the cabinet and the various shelves within it all. More to come on this project, later.

So, now this is how the tall pantry shelf is developing. I have to even things out, install trim around the wood to cover holes and straighten the appearance, and of course I need to work on the larger cubby hole to the left… but things are coming along.

pantryshlevsquirky

Anyway, it’s little things like this that make renovating an old house fun. I’m also going to create a time capsule box with a newspaper, a Bible, and perhaps a note, and place it in one of the interior wall studs should a future remodeler find it. Although, to even consider that someone may rip all this out someday in the future makes me very queasy…

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Coping With Low Water Pressure

August 28, 2010

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Our home is rigged up to the municipal water supply, so we are really blessed to have adequate water pressure from the inlet. However, we never realy had sufficient pressure inside the house! Not sure why… after opening the walls and inspecting the old copper plumbing, we found a whole lot of pipes going every which way… but it didn’t seem problematic, not enough to affect the pressure, anyway.

After installing PEX, we have seen an improvement in pressure, but not as much as I had hoped. I think part of the problem may lie with the fixtures. Shower heads and old faucets become clogged with mineral deposits and crud, over time. My water here is a little hard– I know this because my coffee pots become caked with calcium deposits rather frequently.

PEXmanifold

Our PEX manifold installation.

So eventually, we should change the faucets… in the past, I have purchased the Wally World cheapos, but I don’t think I will anymore. They do not last very long. I may as well get a faucet slightly more expensive in one purchase that lasts longer, than have to buy several cheapo ones over the same course of time! I spotted a shower head called the “Fire Hydrant Presidential” online. LOL, that’s a pretty descriptive name; it looks like a fire hose faucet, too!

Old homes are sometimes plagued with water pressure problems. I think the best thing to do before ripping out the old plumbing or calling in the expensive service guys is to instead soak all your faucets/fixtures in vinegar, or get new ones. That just may solve the problem. šŸ˜€

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Winter’s Chill Will Soon Arrive

August 28, 2010

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September is almost here. We are *almost* done with this renovation project. Well, with the big stuff. I will be working throughout the winter on all the various little things: installing trim, making shelves and cabinet doors for the pantries, installing flooring, painting, etc. It will be a busy time for me.

We also have to install a few space heaters throughout the house. Now that the entire downstairs is insulated, I expect the heat to stay in the house this year (!), and our heating bills to ease a little. I have a few gas heaters I want placed in certain areas. We’re also looking to install some vented gas logs/fireplaces or something like it, one in the living room and one in the future family room (it’s just a garage right now).

Gas heaters and fireplaces-especially the ventless kinds–are said to be extremely energy efficient. The only by-products of the heaters are water vapor and small traces of carbon monoxide. Both by-products can be harmful to the home residents unless care is taken. For example, many newer gas logs fireplaces and heaters are equipped with special oxygen detection sensors. If they sense that oxygen levels in the room are low, the heater will shut off. And homes as drafty as mine will have no problems with air flow, lol. You just have to find quality equipment, such as R. H. Peterson Real Fyre Gas Logs. They are a reputable company, selling gas logs on the Internet from waaaay back in 1994. It’s important to purchase quality heaters, not some no-name brand with lousy support. Anyway, I’m trying to do all my “homework” before we actually make any more purchases on heaters. I greatly dislike the forced-air furnaces.

So the ante is up now that autumn is nipping at our heels. Soon the “big stuff” like cabinets, counters, and flooring will be done!! And then, on to the multitudes of small stuff! Pictures are forthcoming! šŸ˜€

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Great Online Cabinet Store!

August 25, 2010

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Wowsa!!! I wish I had seen this site before I bought my cabinets a few weeks ago! It’s RTA Kitchen Cabinets. They’ve been featured on HGTV and and the DIY Network, but since I don’t watch TV, I didn’t know about them until now. RTA Cabinets is a “direct importer,” which means that they can offer consumers really low prices because there’s no middle man. They have some of the lowest prices on the Internet. And the website and the cabinets just look spectacular!

“RTA” is “Ready To Assemble.” The company specializes in inexpensive, high-quality, stock cabinetry. The designs are really impressive! And NO particle board, ever! Don’t ever buy particle board cabinets– they die in a few years. Plywood cabinets are not much more expensive and they will last you years. RTA realizes this, and all their stuff is plywood. The Kitchen Cabinets styles are just gorgeous. Actually, I may buy from them, anyway– I have a bunch of new pantry closets I have built that do not have doors. The store I purchased my cabinets from do not sell separate doors. šŸ™ But after looking at the RTA Cabinets, I see a few very similar styles to the cabinets I bought! And they sell doors!!! They also sell a ton of other stuff– Rev-a-Shelf accessories (such as the pull-out trash bin that I like so much), unusual cabinet accessories (such as plate holders and wine racks), flooring (laminate and bamboo), bathroom vanities, and loads more. They also have some great articles about customizing your kitchen, and a blog, too.

It’s a great resource. If you need affordable cabinets or other stuff for your renovation, be sure to bookmark the site. I’m very impressed with the prices. My local retailer has base cabinet Lazy Susans for $500… RTA Cabinets has them for $350! I wish I’d seen RTA earlier! Oh well, I have two bathrooms to do next year, and a ton of cabinet accessories I need….

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First Cabinets Installed!

August 23, 2010

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Oh my word, this is a day that will stand in history. We got some cabinets up!!!

FirstCabs

AND we are 100% electrified now!!! See the ceiling fans? I can’t tell you how thrilling this is for us. We have endured over 3 years without electricity in parts of the house. And now we have switched lights and outlets! It’s an historic moment. šŸ˜€

The boys had fun helping install the ceiling fans.

MyFan1

..."and whip it good!" LOLOL

MyFan2

So now we have lights and power AND a few cabinets. I am recuperating from last week’s hectic pace. A billion little jobs await me….

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Backsplash Dilemmas

August 23, 2010

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WE GOT THE FIRST SECTION OF CABINETS INSTALLED!!!! Woohoooo!!! This is a monumental day. šŸ™‚ Thanks to some VERY cool dudes who are swift with measuring tapes and miter saws, my kitchen is– for the first time in a decade— looking like a KITCHEN! I’ll have photos and more gory details later.

I am currently in the “dilemma” mode. After all the meticulous planning for this project over the years, we have found that some things need tweaking. For example, the backsplash. I always planned for a laminate countertop, but at the last moment, we discovered that a stock laminate is not available for the length required (most stock counters come in 10′ max, ours is 11.5′). So I got maple butcher block at a phenomenal price, GREAT! But now that creates a new dilemma– the backsplash. I’m trying to stick with all wood in the kitchen, but suddenly I find myself thinking about tiles for the backsplash. I have always avoided tile because a.) my house is more crooked than a Washington politician, and still shifting, and b.) I don’t have a tile saw, nor do I want to use one. However, I find the small tiles and medium-sized subway tiles very attractive (very glossy and so “retro” looking), that I am reconsidering. I need a backsplash, definitely. I make a lot of Italian meals with sauce and cheese and pasta, and I tend to toss everything around in a very Italian-like manner. My old backsplash was riddled with the results of my Latin exploits. I need a hefty backsplash.

Another alternative is wainscoting, but I shudder to think of having to install ANOTHER thing in the house. I already have a huge laundry list of small jobs to do. Adding another is loathsome.

Another option is self-stick vinyl flooring tiles. Heck, the stuff is so easy to install… and the quality of the tiles has REALLY improved since my mother’s cheesy imitation parquet flooring. What do you think? I’m not afraid to be unconventional. This WHOLE HOUSE is unconventional. I’m using sawn-in-half table legs as corbels for trim and wallpaper for ceilings; I may as well get quirky with the backsplash, eh?

I don’t know what to do just yet. ANOTHER decision. ANOTHER thing to do. *sigh*

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