8:04 p.m. — Tuesday, May 3, 2005
This Saturday, while Ryan was patching the wood floors back together, my Dad came up to put cement board on the half bath and master bath floors. I was pretty sure we'd used Durock on the guest bath floor what feels like forever ago, but Ryan assured me he bought the same cement board as last time and sure enough it's Hardibacker cement board...and it looks familiar.
We're very fond of the Hardibacker—much sturdier than the alternate option we found at Home Depot.
The nice thing about the cement board screws is that they are self-tapping, meaning you don't need to pre-drill your holes before screwing the cement board to the subfloor. This saved Dad a lot of time and energy Saturday, and he was able to get the cement board screwed to the floors of both remaining bathrooms before heading home. He also put the marble sill in our guest bath, between the tile and what will someday be the carpeted hallway. I'm really happy with how the whole guest bath has come together.
Last weekend, Dad and Opa came up and finished hanging all of our interior doors (that makes 7 out of 7). They assigned themselves this project and it was nice not having to think about it.
They're a pretty good team and seem to enjoy coming up on weekends to work on projects for us. We're glad to see their enthusiasm hasn't waned since we moved back into our house and the sense of urgency we had been feeling—and expressing to them—for the last 7 months has finally lessened.
We have been finding ourselves doing the strangest things lately. Such as, oh what do other people call it? Relaxing. Yes, that's it. We'll sit around on weeknights—in the house, mind you—and not do a single thing that's house-related. We have never experienced being in this house and not WORKING on it, so we're finally feeling some of the peace and sense of accomplishment we knew would ultimately come with this project.
We even found ourselves at a Yankees game unexpectedly Thursday night (too bad they LOST) and at the beach on Sunday.
Who are we and what happened to those crazy people who did nothing
but work on their house for SEVEN MONTHS? Being spontaneous and ignoring
the house is not something we've had much practice doing, but we'll
just have to keep trying to get better at it... ;)
3:23 p.m. — Monday, May 9, 2005
Sometime in the middle of the day Saturday, Ryan and I must have looked at each other and said, "Hmm, we feel like building a rock wall today." We certainly didn't plan on it, but that's what we found ourselves doing. It's funny how so many projects begin this way.
We had more rocks sitting around the yard and stacked beside the house than we knew what to do with, and we needed to build a little two foot wall to edge two sides of the patio area. The rock wall idea made perfect sense.
We had always talked about the patio being square and simple against the house (under the cantilever and next to the back stairs), but after some more thought, we decided to round the corner and extend the patio beyond the side of the house.
First, Ryan dug a shallow ditch along the edges. Then, I lined the ditch with leftover pavers rescued from the center of our backyard last year. This let us take a step back and carefully examine the shape of the wall we would be building. After some minor alterations on the curve, we started piling the rocks into our new wheel barrow and hauling them over, then strategically placing them into the ditch.
It's kind of ironic, but it takes a lot of work dry stacking a rock wall to give it that random, natural look. After much turning and pounding and adjusting and kicking, we were left with this:
And no more rocks.
D'oh! Who'd have thought we'd run out of rocks, after being overwhelmed with the amount sitting around the yard for so long? After some more careful scouring of the yard and digging yesterday, we were able to come up with some nice, big rocks to finish the job:
We're hoping the height of the wall matches the height of the deck footing (under the steps on the left), which had been our original goal. Now we just have to finish filling it in with dirt and leveling it off.
The gap in the rock wall on the left is where one or two steps will connect to the patio from the cement pad at the bottom of the deck stairs (just out of the picture on the left). We plan on recycling the limestone steps from our old front stoop as steps up to the patio. Then all we have need to purchase is the patio flooring, as we don't have enough bricks sitting around to fill the ~11'x16' space. We're very happy that we were able to reuse so many things from around the yard for this project.
P.S. Special thanks to Lori &
Jay for letting us borrow their sweet Sony Cybershot to take these pics.
Our camera arrived at Olympus today and will hopefully be returning
to us soon in good health.
1:40 p.m. — Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Now that we're borrowing Lori & Jay's camera, I can finally post some photos of the wood floors that talented Ryan has been patching.
(Hold your mouse over each photo for a description and click on any photo to enlarge...)
I'm so proud of all Ryan has accomplished so far—there are only a few spots left to patch (such as the area at the foot of the stairs). This has gone way quicker than I had imagined. Our neighbor across the street came over the other night to take a look at his handiwork, and she asked me with amazement if there's anything he can't do. I just shook my head and told her that if there is something he can't do, I have yet to discover it.
It's exciting to imagine the whole downstairs sanded and stained as one unified surface—no more tripping over gaps in the floor or tracking white spackle dust everywhere.
5:07 p.m. — Wednesday, May 11,
One of the "Safety" items we had to complete before applying for our Temporary C.O. was installing railings on all of our stairs. We've had railings on our rear and side exterior steps for quite some time, we installed the basement railing ourselves a few weeks ago, and we don't think we need a railing on our two front steps according to code.
That leaves the stairway to the second floor, which was included as part of Tom's original estimate. First, we had to choose a railing (we really only had two choices—we thought there should have been more), and then he scheduling his professional "Stair Guys" to come and do the installation. Overall, we were pretty impressed by their handiwork, especially around our funky little curve, though we might have chosen a different newel post and handrail fitting if we had more options.
The whole railing is oak, which matches the treads of our stairs, and the stair kicks are pine and will be painted white. We're debating about whether or not to paint the balusters white. They would probably match really well that way, but it just seems WRONG to paint solid oak... The jury's still out on that one.
(Hold your mouse over each photo for a description and click on any photo to enlarge...)
Many relatives—especially Oma and our moms—are very happy we finally have a railing at the top of our stairs and on our little balcony. They were petrified one of us was going to fall over the edge of the upstairs hallway to our death.
I guess it's a good thing they don't know what we rigged up to install
the electrical at the top of the foyer... ;)
2:45 p.m. — Thursday, May 19, 2005
Lori & I went to see Star Wars last night the minute it opened—one minute after midnight—and oh my goodness I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. Sure, we all know what happens by Episode IV, but wow what an upsetting journey getting there. I went the wrong way to work this morning TWICE because I couldn't stop thinking about it.
This episode definitely regains my confidence in Lucas still being able to make Star Wars movies, after those last two pieces of fluff. I won't give anything away, but this is by far the darkest Star Wars yet (something really bad had to produce Vader, right?), so don't take your kiddies who are all about the pod racing and Jar-Jar, because this is not for them. Believe me, they don't really need to SEE why Darth Vader needs all those prostheses.
Lori was at my side the minute Episode I opened in '99 (my ex-boyfriend behind us, taunting how hot Natalie Portman was just to irritate me), so it was fun going back with someone who could get excited about the movie with me. We arrived an hour early to looong lines winding around the inside of the Loews. Turns out, those lines were for the 12:04, 12:05, and 12:10 showings. People for the 12:01 showing were already in the theater. And the closest seats we could find—an HOUR early—were THREE ROWS from the front.
Maybe that's why the experience was so overwhelming.
To keep us occupied, the theater played music, sold snacks in the aisles like we were at a ball game, and passed out mini Star Wars magazines. I was careful to read NOTHING about the movie, having avoided all reviews or possible spoilers for months. I was a little disappointed that I didn't do as good on the crossword puzzle as I would have in high school, or if all the questions were about the original trilogy, like my Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.
This is my first non-house-related post ever. But as a lifelong Star Wars freak, I think I'm entitled. Really, who else has read over 25 Star Wars books? ...Dressed up like Princess Leia for Halloween with Cinnabons over her ears just to appease the friends who would not stop calling her Princess Leah. C'mon—only the British pronounce it Princess Lee-uh.
3:14 p.m. — Monday, May 23, 2005
Last year's construction machinery left a complete mess of our backyard. So a few weeks ago, when the weather turned beautiful and sunny, we decided to take a break from our necessary work inside and officially "reclaim" the backyard. (Sorry, no photos on this one...)
The first thing we had to do was smooth out the hills and valleys left from all the construction equipment last winter just before the ground froze. Ryan took a pick-axe and metal rake to almost the entire backyard, and I picked rocks, cement chunks, and old nails out of the ground as he worked and uncovered them. After a few days, this left our yard virtually flat, rockless, grassless, and graded properly.
Then we had five yards of screened topsoil dumped in our driveway from our new favorite greenhouse. This place is massive and so hoppin' on the weekends that there are guys in the parking lot directing traffic — it's craziness.
In case you're wondering, five yards of topsoil is quite a bit — though I'm still not sure exactly why or how it's measured in yards. Our load filled up a dump truck, and one yard of mulch (which we picked up Saturday) filled our whole trailer, just to give you an idea.
We used our new, non-rusty wheelbarrow to layer topsoil over the whole backyard and fill in any remaining low spots. Then Ryan seeded and watered the whole yard. We're looking forward to a grassy backyard once again, and certainly won't miss the mudpits after it rains.
Saturday afternoon, we spent $10 for our yard of "mulch" aka wood chips, and the guy with the backhoe filled up our ENTIRE trailer with one giant scoop. We are very thankful for our generous backhoe driver, who informed us he gave us much more than a yard because "it's too hard to measure..." So I'm not the only one confused ;)
So far, we've mulched almost the entire side of the house against the picket fence / stockade fence and half of the backyard against the wire fence. We also mulched the front beds, effectively eliminating the red mulch that has been an eyesore since we moved in. (Really, did they pick the red mulch just because it matched our house?)
I have a lot of the backyard left to mulch, but that involves weeding along the remainder of the fence first, where the weeds are almost over my head. I have to send non-poison-ivy-prone Ryan in ahead of me before I can continue, and he's back to patching the hardwood floors.
6:59 p.m. — Monday, May 24, 2005
Now that our trusty little camera is back from Olympus good as new, I can post regular pictures of our progress. Following up yesterday's post on the yard, here is what five yards of screened topsoil looks like:
It looked like a lot more in person ;)
Here's how it looks spread over our recently-leveled backyard:
And here's what one yard of mulch looks like in our trailer, awaiting distribution:
It was actually heaping when first filled, and then settled quite a
bit on the ride home. We like the color, size, and natural feel of the
wood chips, as opposed to regular mulch. Plus, for $10/yard, you can't
11:12 p.m. — Friday, May 27, 2005
(Happy 34th Anniversary, Mom & Dad!)
(I just lost my whole entry when my computer crashed...so to everyone reading this: Save! SAVE NOW!)
Even though the weather has been beautiful lately and we have been distracted by the call of the outdoors, we realized October is quickly approaching and we'd better get cracking indoors once again. This evening, Ryan finished patching the last of the wood floors:
And I have again returned to picking paint colors. Lori and I took a trip to Home Depot last week to finally decide on a hallway color. After looking through the same color sample book I've looked through a hundred times, I realized how much I was really liking Caraway (PMD-37). Lori liked it, too, and thought it fit with the description of what I wanted, so one quart later, we were off to test it out.
First, we tried it under the stairs in the foyer. Then, we tried it around the window at the end of the hallway upstairs. It looked very different on each floor, but we liked it a lot in each spot.
Next, we painted around the doorways upstairs to see if it went with the red room and the yellow room.
We finished the quart painting one side of the hallway. When I got up for work the next morning, I literally smiled when I walked into the hallway. It's not every day that a color can physically effect me like that. I finally felt like I had gotten a color RIGHT. (Thanks, Lor!)
So a few days later, Ryan and I were back at Home Depot picking up two more gallons of Caraway. This is a huge area — two-story foyer and long hallway upstairs — and one coat isn't quite cutting it everywhere, so we might be going back for more.
Lori came over again last night to cut in and help finish the hallway upstairs. We also primed the risers on the stairs. What a difference some paint makes!
We can't finish painting the foyer until the ceiling edges are primed and the ceiling is painted white, which is kind of hard to do with all THIS in the way of our ladder:
This is trim for our WHOLE house.
When the man from the local lumberyard backed his flatbed into our driveway yesterday, I was thinking no way that little bit of trim was enough for our whole house. But stacked up inside — in 16-foot lengths — I am heartily convinced.
So here's a sneak peak at what's to come:
No more watching through the doorframe as people walk down the hallway while you're in the bathroom ;)
(Oh yeah — Apple+S)