Archive | August, 2010

The Crazy Time

August 20, 2010

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Nope, I haven’t been ignoring you. I’ve been working. CRAZY working. I have never worked so hard for so long in my life. We passed the three month mark, and while we have made LOADS of progress, we’re still not done.

Right now, we are committed to installing cabinets on Sunday. I don’t know if we can do it, but we’re going to try. The kids are just plumb tuckered from all the work this week, but it must be done.

Renovationitis

So I haven’t done much blogging right now. I’ve been installing panel after panel of sheetrock, spackling for THREE WEEKS (God help me, I’m so sick of jpint compound I could scream), sanding, scurrying about like a crazy lady… ad we finally started painting tonight. Not because the walls all are done (they’re not), but because we just HAD to get past this sheetrock and spackling stage. I also smashed my poor finger again (still recovering from the previous smash), which makes typing a laborious process. So blogging has had to take back seat right now.

I’ll have loads of stories and how-tos in the future, but right now it’s taking every ounce of energy to just maintain my schedule. Whew.

Livvy likes our new pantry shelf. More on that later.

LivvyPantry

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Interpreting the Mysterious Cat

August 18, 2010

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Found on LOL cats. LOL!!

In other news: we’ve been wildly busy. I’ll have an update soon. We’re trying to complete the walls so that we can install cabinets on Sunday. It’s a very ambitious goal, I’m not sure we’ll make it! More to come…

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Wallpaper on the Ceiling Project

August 13, 2010

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Wow. This is a tough project.

The Hubs and I put wallpaper in the ceiling shortly after we moved here, 13 years ago. That was… well, 13 years ago. I was 13 years younger! Ugh, it’s a tough, tough project. My daughter and I are doing all the labor. After a very shaky start (the wallpaper wouldn’t stick to the ceiling), we finally got things going.

Walpapceiling

The seams are still wet. When it dries, they will be invisible. I'll be painting the ceiling, too!

The wallpaper is embossed. It simulates a tin ceiling (the original tin ceilings from the early 1900s are still in the garage, too– it was the old kitchen before it was the garage). I like it because it hides the wavy Sheetrock. šŸ˜€ It’s hard to Sheetrock and spackle the joints on these ceilings and walls. Nothing is straight or plumb. The wallpaper hides a lot of the flaws. And wallpaper adds a touch of whimsy and charm, I think.

I purchased the pre-pasted wallpaper, but after wetting the adhesive, it was BARELY tacky. It was like the insipid adhesive on an envelope. NO WAY was it going to hold the weight of such heavy paper, 9 feet up. And it didn’t. :S It all came crashing down. šŸ™

So I went to my local local home improvement store (not the Big Box. but the “local” one, Jay-K), and the guy there was incredibly helpful. He gave me some paste, told me how to dilute it, and it WORKS! The stuff is amazing.

Moral of the story: skip the pre-pasted junk. Use wallpaper glue in the can.

So we’ve halfway done. I wanted to get more done, but I had tech problems (no Internet on a Friday night after 5pm, grrrreat) and had to solve that. An hour later, we didn’t have the heart to continue. We’re pooped. This is really strenuous work!

I made some scaffolding. How do you like it? šŸ˜€ It suits me fine– I like heights– but my daughter is a little uneasy.

wallpapceiling2

It’s quite sturdy, but oh is it heavy to move. :S

I can’t wait until all this tough labor is done. I’m getting too old for this…

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Still Looking for Media System for Kitchen

August 13, 2010

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Haven’t found a stereo system that’s *just right* for the kitchen yet. I’ve been looking around for about two months now (yes, I do usually take this long to shop!). It’s not as important as, say, installing the Sheetrock or the sink! But I do want a nice speaker set and an iPod dock. It must have AM radio capability. And it MUST NOT BE A PIECE OF JUNK. Beyond that, I’m pretty happy.

But I can’t find anything yet! I’ve been SOOO close to buying one… but the reviews are always mixed. Everyone loves Bose, I know, but I will say flatly that I am not spending more on a stereo than I’m spending on my dishwasher, k! Whoa, $350 for a stereo?!?! My budget is more around the $50 to $75 ball park range. (And that’s pretty high, I think).

Anyone have any good success stories to share? I don’t know if it’s *just me,* but when I read the reviews of a product, they are all over the place. Some rave with euphoric glee, others say they had to return the product ten times because it wouldn’t work. How can these things be from the same product?!?

Buy.com has this Hi-Fi System on sale for about $97 (free shipping).

That’s over my budget, but if it’s very high-quality, I’d get it. I want something small (something I can put on my shelf) that has a big sound to it, but I don’t want a lemon, nor an alarm clock with it. It’s tough to find one!

Got any suggestions? Do you have an mp3 player or iPod dock? Does it work well? Let me know!

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Renovation Thoughts Too Short for a Blog Post

August 9, 2010

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I’m spending money like a drunken sailor. Actually, worse than that– I’m spending money like Congress. Oooo watch the dollars fly! OK, I KNOW we need the cabinets, the countertops, the lumber, the flooring… and I’m not going bananas buying the luxury items. But even the cheap stuff is expensive! I have never spent this much money before in my life, ever.

I have been finding some really great deals on stuff, though. I needed a pull-out trash bin system- you know, one of these things:

The larger ones at Lowe’s are about $300. Yes, THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. For two plastic trash cans, metal drawer hardware, and the pieces of wood for it. WOW. Selling kitchen remodeling supplies is quite the racket, eh? I was not going to pay $300. I didn’t have the time to make my own roll-out thingie, either… so I found that exact setup on eBay. I won the bid! $117!!! It’s still a heck of a lot of money, but I’m glad I got it for so much less money.

I am loving my local Grossman’s Bargain Outlet store lately. I bought my cabinets from them (more on that later). I had to make two trips to get my cabinets, to two different Bargain Outlet stores. This is because they didn’t have all the cabinets in stock that I needed. And I just didn’t have the cargo truck equipment to haul everything around at once. :S

Here are the cabinets I purchased:

Bargain Outlet was having a “Wheel-O-Discount” promotion when I bought them. You spin the wheel and get anywhere from 5% to 50% off your entire order. Wow! So i rang up a big bill, and spun the wheel!!! What did I get, what did I get?? 5%. šŸ™ I was pretty sad. I got an additional 10%, though, for signing up an account with the store… but I was pretty bummed.

Well, we had to go to Bargain Outlet again, and I bought up another big bill of stuff (not as much as the first bill, but pretty big). I asked my son to spin the wheel.

HE GOT 50% OFF!!!!

I couldn’t believe it! Why didn’t I have the kid do it for me the first time?! Oh well! I saved almost $500 off my order. I was so excited!!! The clerks are the store were all real sourpusses, though. LOL.

It is possible to buy building supplies online. So far, I have ordered wallpaper, a stove range hood, a dishwasher, a kitchen sink, gas space heaters, countertops, Tung oil, network equipment, trim molding, plumbing supplies, and cabinet hardware. Some of the best stores I have ordered from include:

Lumber Liquidators
DoItBest.com
HomeDepot
Lowes
eBay
PEXSupply.com
Buy.com
NorthernTool.com

These stores have been pleasant to deal with, have great prices, and their shipping and delivery is great. There is also NO WAY I could have purchased these things at the stores and hauled them home. I have only a minivan. It will hold 4×8 sheetrock and plywood sheets (yay!), but there are no vans to hold anything beyond that. So I have relied heavily on delivery. It costs a little (most of the time) but it has saved me endless labor (and saved my van from the heavy loads).

Once we finish the Sheetrock and the painting, the renovation will start to get interesting and more fun. The photos will have more interest, too. There are a LOT of loose ends to wrap up, though. I realized the other day– while the construction schedule ends right around the last week of August, I will be working on this project at least up until December. I still have lots of trim work, custom cabinets and pantry shelves to make, decorative accents to paint, heaters to plumb and install, a few interior doors to install, and more. Whew!

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Powerline Technology Just Totally Blows My Mind

August 9, 2010

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I’ve been in the slow process of creating an entire Ethernet Internet network control panel (I’m still wiring the cables while we have the walls open right now). But after seeing some technology called “powerline switches,” I wonder if I should even bother with the Cat5/Cat6 wiring. This stuff just TOTALLY blows my mind!!

Basically, a powerline switch allows you to extend your Internet connection using your home’s electrical system. I had heard of this technology last year, and I figured it would be a while before it was really stable enough for me to consider. But there’s been a lot of progress in a year’s time. A tech dude from Netgear went to the Buy.com headquarters and made a very informative video about the Netgear XAV2001 Powerline Switch. It looks so amazing!!

OK, OK, I know some of you are totally uninterested in technology– but before your eyes glaze over, I want you to remember back when there was dialup and you had to learn about that, and then there was cable and DSL, and you had to learn about that…. so let me give a few gory details about this gadget. This just may be how we connect the Internet in the days to come.

  • There are two powerline switches per box. One plugs into an electrical outlet and connects to your router. The outher powerline switch plugs into your electrical outlet somewhere else in the home (like the upstairs game room). The switch has a small port for an Ethernet cable. You connect your computer (or HDTV or Playstation or Xbox or Wii or print server or storage server!) into the powerline switch using the Ethernet cable. Voila, instant Internet.
  • The powerline switch is geared to lessen the load on wireless. If you have a lot of people on wireless connection at once, you know how slow things get. The powerline uses the internal electrical system of your home to connect to the Internet router. The powerline switch is also terrific for providing Internet access to rooms that have spotty wireless coverage (or no coverage).
  • Buy.com has the best price (of course!). I have seen this Netgear powerline switch for $100 or more everywhere else. Buy.com has a sale for $70 and free shipping.
  • Netgear’s switch has a security feature– press a button on both switches, and it instantly encrypts all data streaming through the network.
  • Data are fast– rates up to 85 Mbps, which is faster than 802.11g wireless.
  • The powerline 4-port switch will connect up to 4 devices at a time.
  • The switch works on standard 240volt electrical service. No special electrical receptacles required.

So I wonder, am I wasting my time and money, wiring all this Ethernet cabling?! Technology sometimes develops too quickly. I haven’t even gotten the NEW stuff in yet, and already there’s something newer. Whew, it just blows my mind.

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Livvy’s Pet Blog Hop Meme

August 7, 2010

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I did something a little different and wrote a post about Livvy over at my other blog, Freaky Frugalite. You can learn all about my darling Tabby-Point Siamese there! And feel free to join in the meme. Karen started it, and it’s a lot of fun (not to mention, very easy!).

Livvy 3

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Find the Kitty Friday 8/06

August 6, 2010

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Where else would she be? On the van seat!

Livvy Van Seat

Why do all the cats love this seat so much?

We brought in the seats from the van, to make room for hauling plywood and Sheetrock. We used to leave the seats outside temporarily, but the outdoor cats would clamber all over it (and I am very allergic to fleas). So we now bring the seats in the very large and unfinished kitchen. Livvy has discovered the seats, and puts up a little stink when it’s time to replace them back in the van. LOL.

Doesn’t she look ADORABLE, though?!

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Why It Takes SO LONG To Install Sheetrock In an Old Home…

August 4, 2010

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*sigh*

This is why:

Crooked Walls

Nothing is straight! It takes us hours to hang a couple of panels. šŸ™ Even then, we have gaps. I know things will look better once I spackle…. but the gaps make me perturbed. I will have to buy crown molding for those nasty gaps. I do NOT want to be eating a sumptuous meal only to have those gaping holes staring down at me, lol.

The Dining Room is almost finished. We have two small panels left. Then, I spackle. I’ve done a little patching already, but not nearly enough. It’s been so humid here in Upstate New York, that you could hang out laundry on the line, and it will be wetter than it was coming out of the washer, LOL. The humidity saps my energy… after a few frustrating days trying to work in the soaking-wet heat, we decided to wait until it cools a little.

DR ceiling sheetrock

I have purchased my cabinets, and I ordered my countertops. Things are looking good. I’d better hurry up and finish this project.. we are totally out of room for storing all the boxes of new stuff now!

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Patching… and PATCHING Thx to Buy.com

August 4, 2010

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We’re STILL installing Sheetrock. Ugh. Patch patch patch. I wish it was as easy as tacking up panels, like you do in modern homes. But as any homeowner of an old (renovated) house realizes– nothing is straight in an old house. Besides the centuries of settling and movement of the structure, there’s the inherent crookedness of old plaster and lathe walls and ceilings. Back in the olden days, the builders didn’t need to make anything straight. The plaster was applied as the final building coat, and that’s all that needed to be straight (somewhat). So, it’s a big challenge to install Sheetrock. It requires a lot of measuring, a lot of cutting, and a lot of patching. Thank God for crown molding!!!

The other kind of patching I’ll be doing is with a patch panel, Ethernet switch, and router. I am transitioning the computer Internet away from wireless, and working toward an all-wire, built-in system. I have the router and the switch (I got a good deal on a Netgear 16-port at Buy.com last month). All I need is a patch panel. Found a phenomenal deal (once again) at Buy.com. It’s the Tripp Lite 12-port shielded patch panel (shielded cables and panels help eliminate electrical interference). Looks sweet.

Basically, to install an Ethernet control station, you wire Ethernet cabling from the control station to all the various branches throughout the house. The wires in the control station connect to the patch panel. The patch panel has Ethernet RJ-45 jacks, as you can see in the picture. Those jacks receive Ethernet cables, and the other end of the Ethernet cables go to the switch. The switch is connected to the router, which is connected to the telephone system, which is coming from the telephone company. It’s similar to electrical wiring system, in that you have a “service entrance” that enters a service panel, and from there all the various connections branch out throughout the house. I think the most difficult part, next to wiring the cables through the studs and etc, is punching down all the little Cat5 wires into the slots. It’s rather laborious.

Anyway, Buy.com has made it pretty easy for me. They sell everything I need, from the equipment to the supplies like Cat5 cables, punch down tools, Ethernet cables, and more.

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