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!