Monday, October 24, 2011

To be on a tropical island...

If you recall, my new kitchen design has an island in it.  The size of the island and the overall size/flow of the kitchen precludes having a sink in the island, but it doesn't mean I don't want electricity.  That's where the sweat and mess come in.  If you remember, my floor is made of concrete.  Because I'm not fond of the wires running across the top of the floor look, some major work was going to be involved in getting power to the island.  Yuck.

In order to know where to run the electricity, we had to know where the island was specifically going to go.  Trust me, after all the work it was going to take, I didn't want the darn thing in the wrong spot.  So, we cleared the decks in the kitchen and taped off the floor.  Thankfully there was a large divot (?) (not sure which word to use, so throwing a golf one in because it seems to be the same thing to me) from the old cabinetry, so we decided that was as good of a starting point as any place.   Any port in a storm.  We used an angle grinder borrowed from a friend to cut the channels before using an air hammer chisel out the concrete. 

In the picture it seems so simple and easy to do, kinda like on tv.  No big deal, cut three simple pieces out, and run some wiring.  H.A.  H.A.  In case you're missing the bigger picture, here's one that gives a better perspective...

So, with Marc running the air hammer and myself running the vacuum, we trudged on.  I ran the vacuum as a close distance, sometimes too close, sorry dad, in an effort to keep down the dust.  If you've never worked with concrete before, it rates right up there with grout & tile in terms of dusting mess and skin drying potential.  (Note to self, maybe I shouldn't wear flip-flops while doing concrete.)  I did tape off the doors and turn off the A/C to help with the effort, but I still need to scrub the whole house...

So, on and on we trudged, inch by inch, and what did we discover? 


Are you kidding me?  Rebar is only supposed to be every 2 feet, so I've been told, so what were the odds that the rebar would be running directly through the middle of where we were headed?????

Add to that another cattle panel, and the headaches were growing.   Thankfully, God was on our side and the rebar sat just low enough for us to be able to run a piece of conduit for the wiring.  All in all, I'm guessing it took just over 8 hours of angle grinding, vacuuming, air hammering and all the necessary safety gear, except steel toed boots to complete the job. Please note, that when I say complete the job, I don't mean finish the whole project, just chipping out the concrete.

It took another entire day to put in the wiring conduit. 

Due to the unlevel nature of the chipping concrete, so not going there, and the levelness of the conduit, the pipe wouldn't sit below the grade of the concrete.  Out came the heat gun, just enough to bend the conduit so that it stayed where it was supposed to.  It takes a while to heat up the conduit to bend it and it takes just as much time to cool it down.  Not to worry.  I had the uber heavy drain pipe from kitchen sink that had been cut out.  Boom!  Conduit done!  Finally. 

While it may not be a tropical island, I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this island much, much more in the long run!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Shocking Start

While work progresses on the outside of the house, we continue to plod along inside with various projects.  The latest efforts have been toward finishing the electrical in the kitchen.  As with so many things in life, in order to complete one thing you have have back waaaaaay up and do 3 other things first.  The end goal is the of course have a kitchen, but a sooner goal is to have all 4/5 walls of my kitchen drywalled.  (Remember, my room is an oddly shaped dining room/kitchen combination of 4 walls and in one place 5.) 

The original kitchen in this place was a tiny, little hot mess with a wall oven, push button cooktop, pendant sink light, fridge and not much else.  Think about all of the electrical needs in today's typical kitchen, dishwasher, under/above cabinet lighting, recessed ceiling lighting, fridge, island, wall oven, range, etc.  Anyone else seeing an issue here?  Yeah, not nearly enough power in the kitchen.  It was at that point I realized that I had to pick which appliances I wanted.  Wonderful, something else to do before doing the thing I wanted to do.  You see, without knowing which appliances I want, it's almost impossible to know where to spec the electrical and once the drywall in is, it would be a HUGE pain, not to mention mess to change it.

While you might think that it would be a blast picking a kitchen full of appliances, it's hard when you've already made yourself a promise.  From the very beginning of this house project, I've promised myself that I would never settle for less than what I wanted, really wanted, instead I would just do without.  (hmm, so far I'm doing good.  Hence the reason I've been living with studs for 2 years.)  All in all, it's been easy to keep this promise to myself.  I live alone and function okay without certain things, like a stove.  Grits, my favorite work breakfast and chicken are easy to make on my hot plate.  Just think about how much easier it will be to make them when I have this installed.

Oh a girl can dream!!  Top it off with a super ventilation system and this girl would be in heaven.

Not to worry you, I haven't left reality.  Here is a more current kitchen pic.

Notice the hours of work?

Each little caption is equivalent to hours of work in a relatively clean attic, several feet of expensive wire (ouch,) new switches and only a couple of drops of blood.  What's the most depressing part of it all?  Once the drywall is up, no one will ever know the hours of work involved.  Instead, a switch will flip and a light will come on or something will move and no one will think twice, so I'm calling a moment for you to appreciate all this hardwork.

Even though there are hours of hardwork behind us, and now a well appreciated electrical plan has been laid into place, a large piece is still missing.  Remember my sentence from above?  (It's okay, I know there were a tons of sentences from above, so I'll help you out.)  Think about all of the electrical needs in today's typical kitchen, dishwasher, under/above cabinet lighting, recessed ceiling lighting, fridge, island, wall oven, range, etc.  Do you see it?  No?

that little word,

such a simple word,


Remember my floor??


I'll remind you next time...

Monday, October 17, 2011


Several people have commented via email on the absurdity of the fact that our local county taxes on concrete.  While I agree it's nuts, the county looks on my basketball court/holder of branches as an unimproved patio, hence the taxes.  Now, I'll be the first to say that the added value of my "unimproved patio" is little, but I'm in the world that every single penny counts!!  So that sucker is gone and my world is looking greener.

Thanks to two very precious rains, new grass is already starting to poke it's head through the dirt.  I am also pleased to say that after the two heavy rains, my carport was much, much drier than before the re-grading.  It did collect some rain, but nothing compared to the  pre-grading mess.

My latest addition is this huge pile of concrete remains.  Because the original pourers of the basketball slab used a cattle panel to reinforce the concrete, my debris cannot be dumped at the local dump.   So, my poor landscaper is scrambling trying to find a place to dump it.  Anyone need any fill dirt???

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Clearing the decks

As I mentioned recently, I have hired B&B Landscaping to do some pre-pre-work on my lawn in preparation for an irrigation system.  We have been suffering from a HORRIBLE drought since early last spring.  It is to the point that I am very worried about my slab. Knowing myself well enough to know that I need a sprinkler system because I won't remember to turn off the water or water regularly, I turned to B&B.  They worked miracles in less than 2 days.  (Please note that they worked much, much faster than I type and post...)

In short order, less than one day, I was down one too-narrow front sidewalk.  I was also down half of a side sidewalk.

If anyone, anyone knows why in the world this sidewalk was here, I'd love to know!

The next day I had a new tractor (aka bulldozer if you're my 4 and 1 year old niece and nephew!)  from B&B that worked wonders removing the huge front yard bump and the basketball court.  (Big yay for that, around here they tax on concrete, so that sucker being gone saves me money!!)

I have current pictures taken, but they're on my camera awaiting downloading, watermarking and titling.  I will say that the change is huge.  In a very blessed downpour this weekend of over 1 inch, my formerly heavily flooding carport was dry within 24 hours without me vacuuming out or removing any water.  Wahoo!!

Changing Outlook

Giddings Lane is getting a new outlook, literally!  After two years, my house, all in all, hasn't changed nearly as much on the outside as it has on the inside.  The changes on the outside have been very minor.  A new roof, trimmed trees and removal of TONS (literally) brush, all big things, but if you look, nothing that says WOW.  See??


All of that is about to change.  Thanks to an awesome local company, B&B Landscaping, Giddings Lane is about to start getting a whole new look.  Now, keep in mind that I'm saying that we're "about to start."  This is going to a LONG time process, which is fine.  Everything that's good is worth waiting for, right??

First up on the agenda is removing the excess brick and concrete that the original owners were so fond of.  

So long old basketball court!!  Hopefully it will soon be a thing of the past.

Next on the to-do list is to remove the bricks from the walk to no-where.  If you recall, after HOURS of work, my dad uncovered this brick path in the backyard.  

If and when, I mow, this random brick layout is a pain and is half buried.  The brick is going to be pulled up and moved to the corner of the yard for future use.  I'll let you know what kind of future use later, in the future.

When I first moved into the house I knew there was a front flowerbed because they had the straggling remains of bushes of some sort.  (It made a great play place for mud pies.)

After more hours of work, we found this, more brick, this time bordering the bed.

While it looks pretty in the picture, reality was more brutal and it looks pretty pitiful now.   The brick is also broken and jacked up too, so out it comes.  It will join the pile in the back for future use.  As will the very, very narrow, cracked and and uneven walkway to the street.

The biggest thing that's scheduled to happen, will most likely be the least noticeable to everyone else, I'm guessing.  In digging out the front flower bed, the dirt was tossed to the side for simplicity's sake.  Due to a poorly timed nose break, (but then again, is any nose break ever nicely timed????) the dirt was never moved to its permanent home, so there it sat.  Over the past year or so, it has become a mountain of dirt.  B&B is going to remove the dirt, leveling it for proper drainage and fill in the holes left by the concrete/brick removals.  I CANNOT wait!! Instead of a huge mound, I might possibly have the beginnings of a real front yard!

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Other House

In my other life, I'm a teacher, there I said it, so far I'm still alive, so I guess it's okay that everyone knows what I do.  Privacy is such an iffy thing on the internet that I've tried not to come right out and say exactly what I do because of the nature of my job.  But, that's obviously in the past now, so, here are a couple of snaps, poorly taken by my phone, but I thought you might like to glimpse my other "house."

The hallway where I teach is having a theme of movies this year.  We used plastic tablecloths taped together in the middle and run through book rings to make our "red curtains."  The STAAR isn't misspelled, it's the name for our state test.  Each teacher picked a different movie theme for the "board" outside of their room.  Our bulletin boards are actually 4x8 sheets of insulation board from Lowe's.  It's light weight and ease to staple into made it a breeze for hanging and better yet, taking down to change it!  In case you are confused, my movie theme is Disney's Cars.  Yup, I copped out and picked a movie where I could get a Cricut cartridge to make it much, much easier on me.

As students advance in AR, their movie "star" will travel down the boards, hence the numbers at the bottom.

Next to the board, I have a small Christmas tree that I decorate differently each month.  (Yeah, I know, I need to get a life, but I did this before I owned my own house.)  Since they're all made now, I put them up anyway...

Inside my room, I have three main walls to "decorate."  (The 4th wall is filled with a marker board.)  I have another insulation board with an inspiration quote, custom vinyl quotes with equivalent measures and thought provoking math pictures.  In case you can't find the math, don't worry, just google Fibonacci series and Fibonacci Spiral.  I'm just warning you though, you're going to start to see math everywhere!!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finishing Up the Pantry

I know it's been a while since I've posted.  I'd love to say I've been making huge strides with my house, but that would be a fib.  Life has happened though and I've been trying to take it all in stride.  I did finish my pantry though.  If you don't recall, my pantry originally looked like this.

Fabulous huh??  Yup, the cinder blocks really added a little somethin-somethin to my food storage.  Jealous, aren't you??  I know, it's okay.

In all seriousness though, the shelves were cut-down from my old closet and repurposed into "pantry" shelves.  The cinder blocks had been hauled out of my parents' yard and leftover from a brother's wedding.  While I appreciated the storage they offered, I wasn't happy with their mismatched look.  Ugh.  So, out came even more white paint, excuse me, "Heavy Cream."

And, as is typical for me, I got paint EVERYWHERE!!  I do not understand how people manage to paint neatly and keep everything contained and clean.  I can show you every single color I've ever used based on my painting clothes.  Ridiculous I know, but I get the job done, eventually.

After the boards and blocks dried, mostly, I neatly stacked them in the new cute pantry.  NEVER EVER doubt the power of paint, people!

Instead of mismatched boards and dirty cinder blocks, I had sculpture pieces that made a custom pantry with twice the space.  (Sculptural?  Are you kidding?  (Hey, let me have my delusions, here.  It keeps me happy!!))

When all was said and done, I had an awesome pantry!  It's not the one of my dreams, yet, but it is so much better than before.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Finishing Touches

My pantry is getting closer and closer to working as it is supposed to, as a pantry.  Imagine!!  The walls were finally done to my satisfaction but the trim wasn't finished and everyone was out of town and/or busy.  That meant it was me, the miter saw, the coping saw and a whole lot of prayers!  (see, when I bought the trim, i thought that there would be people around to help me, so i bought exactly as much as i needed.)  I started with this . 

(sorry for the bad photo, it's all i could find.  in my next life, I'll get better at "before" pics.)  Thankfully, my lil' brother let me borrow his fancy saw while he was out of town.  Let's hear it for his bravery!  I love this saw and would LOVE to have one of my own eventually.  It makes cutting the mdf boards easy and leaves a smooth pretty cut.  After many prayers, a couple of extra cuts and plenty of caulking and touch up I ended up with this.

The straight sides are the simple pieces in trim.  The hard part is getting the corners to look good.  I think, for my first solo trip, I did pretty good.  Thoughts?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fine is never enough...

Once again, I finished something, my pantry in this case, and it wasn't good enough.  I had this: pretty but not what I wanted.

What I wanted was this...

See the pretty pattern in the background?  I love it!  It makes a utilitarian room special.  After cruising the post on how it was done (click the pic to see) I realized what looked painted was instead vinyl.  I didn't have the funds to do vinyl, nor the patience, but man did I want the look!!  So, I cruised the internet for alternatives.  That's where I landed on this.

So pretty!  Just a little feminine with a twist.  Not too fussy.  It was perfect in every way except one, the price.  At $40 it was out of my range.  So, I went to work.  Hobby Lobby had wall stencils and furthermore I had a 40% off coupon which brought the $17 cost down to my price range, especially if I hated the look after it was all said and done...  So, I purchased a stencil that I thought looked like me and experimented.

A few notes here:

-everyone always talks about using stencil adhesive or spray adhesive or painter's tape.  I'm telling you to use ALL of it!!  They are not really interchangeable (okay, maybe you could use spray adhesive or stencil adhesive interchangeably.)

-Do not FORGET the blue tape.  Do as I say, not as I photograph or you'll be sorry.  Trust me, having the stencil stick to the roller, come off the wall, fall back on the wall, and then hit the floor causes "dirty word" to spring from your mouth.  (yes, I usually use "dirty word" instead of actual dirty words because of my job.  it helps when I get mad or drop something at work.  that way i don't let a true bomb drop.)

-Another tip is to use a foam roller and roll the roller in one direction only instead of back and forth.  It helps with the bleeding thing.

Anywho, after the learning curves, I ended up with this.

I'm in love!  (although, i am slightly worried about it.  the pattern is only on two of the four walls in the pantry and seems a little overwhelming.  maybe with the addition of shelves, it will calm down the overall look.)

Here is a look at the walls when you walk in.  I still love it despite my fears!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sit a Spell

At my last garage sale, my SIL brought over her beloved rocking chair from her aunt.  Because of a combination of the "fabulous" (sorry Aunt Jackie) look of the chair and the fact that my nephew is perfecting his mountain climbing skills, my SIL felt that she had to sell the chair.  I knew she loved it, so I told my bother to put it back inside.  I knew that with a little love and sweat, the chair could be beautiful.  (Unfortunately I couldn't and still can't do a thing about Zach's climbing ability.)  Did I mention the look of the chair was straight out of the 60's? 

Isn't it pretty?  Yeah, not really in the vein of my SIL's house.  (Again, sorry, Jackie.  It does have  great bones though!!)  In case you're missing part of the glory, check this out.

Yup, it featured every great color that WAS in my house before its transformation.  Scary.  Anyway, it plunked itself in my living room and sat there for almost six months before I got around to transforming it.  Hey, I said I'd do it, I didn't ever say it would be fast!  ;)  

I typically am a big fan of the Behr Ultra paint.  So much of a fan in fact, that I know Guy and Suzanne on a first name basis at local Home Depot.  I love the low-ish odor, easy clean-up and so far great wearing paint, but I didn't think it was right for this project.  Okay, so maybe part of it was I didn't think it was right and part of it was the fact that I was desperate to jump on the chalk paint bandwagon.  

In case you have missed all of the blog buzz about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I'll give you the short version.  Chalk Paint is an all natural paint with NO, yup, no odor which dries to a super matte finish.  It requires no sanding, striping, priming or other prep work.  If you've ever tried to sand anything, you will understand my immediate interest in chalk paint.  Add to that it's an English product that allows the under thing, whether wood, metal, glass, brick, cinder block, whatever to breathe and I was hooked.  And after a little research, I found the price.  Ouch.  It's not cheap stuff folks.  At almost $40 a quart, this cheapie was a little shell-shocked.  It didn't take me long to convince myself that the paint was worth the original cost, but not shipping.  (I really HATE to pay shipping on anything!  Yes, I'll spend twice as much on gas, but I digress.)

So, after checking the state side suppliers, I found one in little ole Waco, TX.  Imagine!  It's one of 3, yes 3 in the entire state.  I did some sweet talking of my mom and Mimi and they graciously picked up a quarts of Old White and Paris Grey for me.  It is a probably a good thing that I didn't go because I'm sure I would have come home with way more than two colors.  (Scroll down on the link to see the best representation of all the available colors I could find.)

My mom decided she would use the Old White to redo the daybed in her "kids' room."  Because I had no idea how far this paint would go, regardless of what is online, I went with the Paris Grey for the rocker.    In true Sissi fashion, which I could blame on the 3 digit heat, but since I do the same in winter I can't, I plunked the rocker down in the middle of my living room on some leftover plastic dropcloth.  In one evening, I was able to double, yes double coat the entire rocker, complete with flipping it different directions for total coverage and wax the whole piece.  When the paint first dries, it is very, very matte with somewhat obvious brush strokes. 

Since I get brush strokes on every stinking thing I paint, this doesn't surprise me in the least bit.  I'd blame it more on the painter here than the paint.  But, anywho, the paint covered the finish nicely and and worked great.  After the paint was dry, I put a coat of Johnson's wax on it and buffed it to a shine.  I also used 220 grit sandpaper to knock down the brushstrokes and add a little wear and tear to the piece.  My goal was to make it look like it came out of a French farmhouse.

While the chair was only an evening's worth of work, the cushions were a different story.  I went with the same neutral fabric that is elsewhere in my house.  Thankfully I was able to squeeze all the pieces out of scraps left over from Elphaba and slipcovers.  I made easy to clean covers that zip on and off since I know better than to think they'd stay clean for long.  For picture purposes, I grabbed my ruffle pillow and it fit perfectly.  Since it's currently destined for Zach's room, the ruffles aren't a permanent thing, but I'm on the lookout for a train pillow.

In case you need a refresher...
 Not too shabby I'd say!

(All opinions are completely mine and I haven't been paid for them!)