Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A little setback and a little progress

All in all, I guess the setbacks even out the progress. Or something like that. All I know is that when I found out we had a huge gas leak and our heating system had to be shut down completely, I thought we had hit a major crisis in the remodeling of the cottage. But one call to our Favorite Plumber in the Whole World, Wayne Ging from Wayne's Plumbing in Coupland, Texas, got us fixed up pronto. By Tuesday afternoon, we had a permit, he and his employee Rick had dug the very deep ditch that went all the way across the yard, made the repairs, called the inspector (who called the gas company) and got us going again. Those guys don't mess around, I tell ya! And thanks to Wayne's wife, Cara, who keeps the office running and Wayne where he's supposed to be. :-)

That's Wayne on the left, and Rick on the right. Rick wants me to tell everyone that he's single. :-)

After some fiddling with the thermostat to get the unit fired up again, within a couple of hours we had wonderful heat in the house.

Can I just say that we love our plumbers? :-)

After all that drama, it was sort of anti-climactic to continue work on the bathroom, but Rudy did make a lot of progress today. Clap your eyes on these!

I must say I've always wanted a Jacuzzi, but this one is slightly small to bathe in. LOL. The Jacuzzi Prestige toilet has a unique feature--there's no worm-like curlicue at the bottom to collect dust! Could it be that I'll enjoy cleaning my bathroom? ARE YOU KIDDIN' ME?

We're taking a few days to rest, ponder, maybe pack a few boxes (eek) and eat some pretty good cookin'. And if we're lucky, Santa might just come for a visit. Wonder what he'll bring? A new ceiling fan, perhaps? LOL!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We almost made it!

One of my goals has been to move into the Two Sisters house by Christmas. We might have made it. We were THIS close. Then, this morning when I was pulling some weeds out in the garden, I bent over and smelled gas.... Oh dear, that's not what I meant! LOL. The gas wasn't coming from ME, it was coming from the house. Specifically, it was coming from an 80-year old galvanized iron pipe that rose out of the ground right outside our bathroom window.

I happen to be a chemically sensitive person, and can smell the tiniest thing that others can't. When I told Rudy I smelled gas, he trusted me enough to believe that there was a problem. We put in an emergency call to Atmos Energy and they quickly sent out a technician who, with the aid of a very handy little hand-held gizmo that clicked like a geiger counter, detected a major leak. I knew it wasn't good news when the thing clicked so fast it sounded like one continuous shriek. He shut the gas off pronto, also shutting down our heating system in the house. Luckily, it's a warm day.

So, we had to put in an emergency call to the plumber, who was supposed to show up on Wednesday anyway to finish the bathroom work. He has to get another permit from the city peeps (who are on holiday this week), dig up the yard, take out the old pipe, replace it then get it inspected AGAIN. Then we have to call the gas company back out to turn the gas back on. Ay yi yi.

Meanwhile, other work continues. Rudy spent the last week working on the bathroom tile floor and the shower stall, and is grouting today.

We ALMOST forgot to insulate the outside wall behind the pipes. Whew. Luckily, Rudy remembered and spent quite some time stuffing the wall full of the Johns Manville insulation without formaldehyde.

I finally decided to leave the bathroom walls as they were, with four heavy coats of primer, then paint, to cover up the old mastic. In a crazy sort of way, I liked the pattern that the installers made while smearing it on. We can add something else in the future if we want---tile or beadboard. For now, it's a two-tone sage green and tan (matching the living room), and will have some nice chair railing molding separating the two halves.

The shower has been a big job. First, Rudy had to cover up the existing plank walls that were behind the old sheetrock. I really wanted to leave some of them exposed at the top, but since we had to add backerboard for the shower, it didn't work out.

The left-hand side of the shower shows the little bench that we're building in--a place to sit and soak my feet or for shaving.

The bottom will be filled with a 4 x 4' shower pan made of fiberglass, and the inside of the shower walls and bench will be tiled. Note to self: Pick some tile for the shower! LOL

I've moved a few odds and ends into the kitchen and an old shelf into the pantry.

I love that I can see the remaining shiplap siding that used to be the outside wall of the house. It seems that the back porch was enclosed at some time. To me, it's like those "truth windows" that people build into their straw bale homes. I can envision shelves of bright red jellies and jams and stewed tomatoes at some future date, lining the shelves.

And the shelves of my custom spice shelf will be filled with homegrown dried herbal blends.

I was a bit leery that the bright orange background I used in the kitchen might not work until I brought in one of my Italian chicken pitchers and a handmade ceramic bowl---the colors are PERFECT! I know the orange and the lime green on the walls will look great with the rest of my small collection.

The kitchen is 99% finished---I think. I keep finding things that haven't been finished, like the backsplash. We do have the tile, just haven't installed it yet. It's a small glass mosaic subway tile design in a dark amber reddish brown--gorgeous stuff. In this photo, you can see the new appliances.

And in this one, you see the view from the dining room, through the kitchen into the living room. I cannot wait to get the antique french doors re-installed there.

The right hand side of the kitchen features the original cabinets, with a little tweaking at the bottom to fit in a small (18") dishwasher. The doors on the uppers have been removed and the shelves used for my collection of pitchers and doo-dads.

We are having a few issues with the old drawers. Once I painted them, they got wider, and now they stick. We'll have to "fiddle" with them, sand them a bit, wax them and hope that does the trick. At a future date (on our Eventual List), we'll figure out how to put them on drawer slides.

A cool pull-out wire shelf holds cleaning supplies, and lifts out so I can carry it to other parts of the house.

Pull-outs on the left hand side hold pots and pans.

And no, it doesn't bother me in the least that the cabinets on the left don't match the ones on the right. They are the same color, and that's good enough for me. I am trying to find matching hardware to add to the new ones to match the 1950's pulls that were there when we bought the house. A little island, probably 4-feet by 18-inch wide or so, will sit in between the two sides to make the kitchen complete.

And with Mamaw's bowl perched up on one of the built-in shelves, it's starting to feel a little bit like home.

Happy trails, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

bobbi c.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Houston---We have lift-off!

Well, not exactly as exciting as a space launch, but getting hot water into the kitchen here at the Two Sisters Cottage is big big news indeed! For months we've had to resort to freezing water from the faucet outside or the little sink in the cottage to wash our hands, clean paint brushes and general washing up. This morning we had running water in the house for the first time in over five months. And after we fired up the new Titan electric tankless water heater, we had HOT water in about 2.5 seconds. Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!

Here's the Husband, clowning around:

Oh, yes, you'll also notice that we now have countertops---another "luxury" that I've been waiting for. After a lot of indecision and pondering, we decided to go with some simple pine planks we sealed with a clear Minwax Polyurethane. New wood is so light compared to the old antique wood, but after the finish, it was very similar to the antique pine floors in the living room, right next door. Yay.

In general, I shy away from non-water based products, but in this case, with all the splashing that goes on around a sink, it was necessary. We NEVER place food directly on our countertops, we don't cut on them, etc. so I'm not worried about any issues with toxicity. Application went on with lots of ventilation, fans, air cleaners, open windows, etc.

We found that a drop cloth underneath old appliance boxes and plastic buckets can be turned into an impromptu painting area (in our living room).

Here's the original dry fit to make sure they're the right size.

Here, we used the blue painter's tape to mark where the hole for the sink was to be cut. Rudy measured MANY times before cutting.

First, he drilled, then he cut. Carefully.

The new sink and faucet were set in, and we held our breath. They fit!

The sink is a small one I found on clearance for $37. I've had huge stainless sinks, and huge cast iron sinks. This time, I decided that I liked the simple one-hole variety better than the others. With a high-neck faucet (great for filling pasta pots), you don't need a sink that's deep enough to float a cruise ship in. The faucet was also on clearance at a greatly reduced price.

While waiting for the finish to dry, Rudy got busy doing some little odds and ends. Like adding the quarter round trim in the dining room. Other than some paint touch-up high on the walls, I declare the dining room finished! (Well, other than the windows, and curtains, and.....LOL)

The kitchen is almost finished. We still have to install the reddish-amber mosaic glass tile I found for the backsplash, put on a few doors, sand the old drawers so they'll slide, trim out the window--and I'm sure a hundred other little details--before it's 100% finished. But that's OK; we'll get there.

I love the little whatnot shelf at the end of the kitchen facing the dining room. It's one of the original features of the house that charmed me. After giving it another coat or two of paint, it was ready for some decorative doo-dads and cookbooks.

And here's an overview of the kitchen, looking in through the dining room. A bit messy, still.

Oh, and remember the pantry? Other than shelves, it's also DONE.

Other work today included installing a pair of wire mesh sliding drawers so I don't have to crawl inside the cabinets to retrieve pots and lids, installing the range side countertops and leveling the range, painting drawer fronts and more.

It's cold here, and raining, so we're taking a few days off of the heavy labor and re-grouping and pondering---what's next? To the bathroom!

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Itchin' for a kitchen

Ever since we had our new range with convection oven delivered, I've been itchin' to do some cooking in my new kitchen. Thing is, there still isn't running water there, although that's coming soon---maybe next week. This week we finished up the ceramic tile we laid in the kitchen and dining room and although we have to go back over the grout with a sealer and colorant, for the most part, that's done.

In this photo, Rudy put in the last tile.

It was a huge job, over 250 square feet in the kitchen, dining room and pantry, and was a major step in being able to add trim and shelves in the new pantry, and moving small pieces of furniture in. The only mishap was that the camel colored grout turned lavender/mauve. The theory is that the water changed the chemistry of the colorant---or it was just plain bad juju---nobody knows. That's the problem with grout; it never dries the way the sample looks and it's impossible to change much once it's dry.

Another major step was getting to the point where we could add the underlayment for the countertops, which will be pine. This photo shows the left hand side of the kitchen with the two sections on either side of the stove.

This shows the other side, with Rudy doing a "dry run" on the sink---upside down. The underlayment for that side is also in.

Remember the BEFORE photos? Even though it doesn't seem like it, we've made progress. this is the left hand side, before. The stove now sits in front of this former tiny pantry wall.
And this is an overview of the other side, with the original cabinets, flooring, wall and countertops.

The refrigerator is sitting out of the way until the counters are done, but is otherwise ready to go. It's been sitting open for a few weeks in order for all the new plastic inside to outgas. Otherwise the food will taste awful. Yuck.

Here's a photo of the kitchen and dining room from the living room. A set of antique french doors will go into that opening eventually, and a very small island will sit in the middle of the kitchen between the two sides.

The living room walls have been painted with "Mark Twain House Tan"....a National Historic Register color available at Lowe's. The trim has been primed at this point.

So, no cooking for me in my new kitchen---yet. But I still have hopes that we can at least cook a meal here before the end of the year, when I can try out my new convection oven. Until then, it's sandwiches and frozen dinners in the microwave.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

bobbi c.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's almost a kitchen....

I have about 50 photos to "process" but wanted to post this one now. Today, just a month after Husband started work on the kitchen walls, we were able to install the new range and the rest of the cabinets on that side of the kitchen. We still have work to do....countertops, backsplash, sink, faucet....but this is a big step.

And the other side, with the original cabinets retrofitted to fit a modern sink and a tiny 18" dishwasher.

Happy trails,

bobbi c.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some Sunday progress...

Kitchen cabinets!

Hand-built by husband to fit in the middle (sink area) to replace the old section we had to remove. He did use some of the antique wood in the construction.

And this is where it's going:

After I painted it, he did lots of fitting and's in!

Then some tweaking, sanding and shaving with the plane--taking a deep breath and screwing it in!

THEN, dry fitting the new smaller sized dishwasher (only 18" wide) in between the two cabinets. We bought the smaller size so that we wouldn't have to demolish the whole set of cabinets. Previously, the house had no dishwasher at all. It's much smaller than we're used to, but figured a smaller one was better than none, so we'll adjust. This dishwasher is also a few inches shorter than our old one and is ADA compliant, which might come in handy in the future, or for future residents.

Now we'll have to rig some kind of trim piece on top to hide the gap. Two faux drawer fronts will go on the front (apron), under the sink area.

Countertops, unless we change our minds again, will be yellow pine butcherblock and backsplash will probably be either glass or mosaic glass tile.

Happy trails!

bobbi c.