Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Things Actually Are Bigger Here

This is what a dandelion grows to be in Texas.  Shortly after this, it fell over under its own weight.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Won the Name Drawing

When I last wrote, it was about a kitchen and adding some base cabinets. A lot has happened since then, both in and out of our kitchen. Most notably:

There was a drawing on April 20th.  Four names were written on pieces of paper, put into a bowl and one was drawn by a person that I had met only hours earlier.  The four names were Calvin, Carlie, Henry and Finley.  Calvin was chosen.  My number one choice and Amanda's number four choice.

This is what the drawing was for:

Minutes earlier, that thing came sliding slowly out of Amanda.

A mid-wife selected our child's name out of a green bowl.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Kitchen is Blowed Up.

When you last saw our kitchen (in Texas), it was described in one of a series of posts detailing what we planned on doing in each room in our house.  You can see the Kitchen (and hallway) post here.  After months of saving (or more like paying off an interest free deposit from a credit card that paid for the floors/trim/miscellanea), and months of paying a birthing center to teach Amanda about eating her placenta (gross), we have the money to get cracking on the kitchen remodeling.

That process started with Ikea.  What else is new.  That place is awesome.  The kitchen in particular, started with Ikea's web based CAD software.  After designing the kitchen, we headed over to the local store, pulled up the design, asked some questions and eventually ordered the cabinetry.  Since they were having a sale on kitchens, we decided to include ordering the countertops from Ikea also, as the total price would have been about the same as if we had gone with similar counters from Home Depot.  Easier to make the one trip and deal with the one company, rather than two different stores.  4,500 dollars later, we had a kitchen with our name on it set to be delivered the next day.

The next day came, and with it, multiple weird projects.  The first project was to get rid of the current cabinets and countertop.  Days earlier, I had posted an ad on craigslist, stating essentially that if you wanted some free cabinets, come to my house and take them down with me, then drive away with them.  I had a million calls in about 12 minutes thereafter.  That was easy.

The evening before we began kitchen work, in earnest, Amanda basically moved all of our kitchen stuff out into the Dining Room, essentially giving us a crappy kitchen in there:

She had also created a CDC-style dust containment system in hopes of corralling a bit of the particulates sure to be strewn about during the work:

Sweet.  It didn't work that well, as the place was a dust cloud for a day, but whatever, it looks cool.

The next day, and about an hour or so before the folks taking the cabinets were due to arrive, I started working on a few things needed to get rid of the current kitchen.  The first task was to disassemble and remove the humongous garbage disposal, seen here:

It's even bigger than it looks in that picture.  I think it could probably dispose of one of the fetal pigs used in high school science classes without any problem.  It's really very big.

Removing a disposal usually isn't all that hard, and this one wasn't hard either, but the previous plumbing work from the previous owner, made it a bit more difficult than it should have been.

The above is a photo of the pipe that connects to the discharge of the disposal.  Instead of using the threaded pipe to seal the plumbing, the previous owner used plumbing cement (that brown stuff) to fuse the joint together.  The threaded pipe is a very tight seal, so there is generally no need for that cement, but since they used cement, I had to hack the pipe off in order to get the disposal removed.  not a huge deal by any means, and a little fun, but still...

Success.  Look how big that damn thing is.  Yeesh.

After that was successfully off of the old sink, it was time to move on to the dishwasher.  Removing a dishwasher is embarrassingly easy.  Usually.

This one was less easy.  Dishwashers are usually just slid into place after connecting the water, discharge hose and electricity.  Once in place, there are two flimsy brackets on the top of the washer that screw into the countertop.  Reversing those things will usually get you a freshly removed dishwasher.  Unfortunately for us, the previous owner added another step to the installation process:

If you look closely (it's tough to tell from this image), you may notice that the bottom of this dishwasher is actually below the tile of the floor.  This thing was essentially tiled into its spot.  This might explain why the other appliances in the kitchen are much newer than this thing, since it's really hard to get out of its little cubby hole.

What this basically meant was that in order to remove the dishwasher, we actually had to remove the countertop first.  Not a big deal when you're already planning on removing the countertop, but would have been a real pain in the ass if we were merely replacing the appliance.

No matter.  After a bit of fighting with the dishwasher and flooring, the fellows who were going to take the cabinets showed up and we got to work.

I couldn't get a good picture of them, as it's a little rude to just snap photos of people, but I did manage to find them on facebook and snagged this profile picture (weird that they share the same account):

Just kidding.  That's not really them.  But they looked similar.  Very, very obese.

Luckily, they were helpful and knew how to remove cabinets and countertops.  It;s not very hard at all, but it does take a bit of finesse if you don't want to smash everything to bits.  Making things a bit harder:

That's a hex headed screw.  What?  Who the hell installed these things?  Those were all over the place (along with other random screw types and even a few nails).  The 80s were an awful time for home building.

With the right drill bit and a few hours of sweaty work with fatsos, the cabinets were removed and it was on to the next task.  But before that, here's the mostly empty kitchen:

And here's the rats nest of terrible DIY plumbing:

Shortly after the demo work was completed, the friendly Ikea delivery fellows showed up and dropped off our new kitchen.  Here it is:

In theory, those boxes will somehow transform into a working set of cabinets, drawers and a sink.  Kind of crazy.

Fun aside: While I was helping to lug boxes into our living room, one of the delivery fellows revealed that his wife or girlfriend had just had a baby.  I asked when, and he said 2am that same morning.  I was dumbfounded.  What the hell was he doing at work?

Next up was trying not to get the house dusty during all of the work.

Since the flooring in this room was essentially the color of an slightly embarrassed albino's face (when aren't they embarrassed?), it had to go.  We had picked up some new tile the night before and I was ready to get down to the business of floor remodeling.  The first step, clearly, is removing the old flooring.  I got to work, and after 25 minutes with a hammer and a prybar, this is how much demolition I had actually accomplished:

This was going to take forever.

Making things more fun, just like the dishwasher, the baseboard had actually been tiled in by the previous owner:


Amanda, while at The Home Depot, had inquired about some rental equipment, and since it wasn't crazy expensive, I took a quick trip down there, singed some papers, and came home with this:

And this:

Inside the box?  This:

When you shove that giant blade bit into that giant tool, you basically have a 30 pound hand held jackhammer that can pry tile up.  It was really a lot of fun.  Physically taxing, but when you're in tip-top physical form lie I am, it was easy.  I kid of course.  I am still sore from using this thing.

*Aside* - If anyone at Hasbro, my former company, is reading this blog still, please mention that something like this would be great to addition to a Transformer.  A jackhammer with a blade on the end of it could easily be stuck on the arm of some boring Transformer and instantly make it thirteen to twenty-seven times more devastating and fun.

Speaking of, were there carpenter-bots on the Transformers' old planet?  Did they have any finish work-bots?  I assume that since they were made of metal and stuff, that they didn't really need all that much shelter, but if so, who did that work?  All of the Transformers seem to lack any soft of soft touch or grace, so I can only assume that all of their home planet structures were finished off really poorly and haphazardly.  Jason?  Any insight?

*Aside over*

Anyways, after a few tens of minutes jackhammering, I had cleared out the entire hallway without much effort (aside from lugging the hammer drill around):

Semi-unexpected side-effect of jackhammering tile?  The unfathomable amounts of dust created.  This pile (below) was swept up from an area of about 30 square feet:

The tile covered 250 square feet.  That's a lot of dust.  The tiles themselves came up almost always intact, so all of that dust was from the mortar.

After about 6 hours of work and an hour or so of cleanup the next day, here are the pink-tile-free floors:

The next day was a bit easier, as it was merely building and installing the base cabinet frames.  Amanda and I set up a little workspace on the floor and got cracking:

It was surprisingly easy and didn't take much time at all.  Before long, we were finished building them and they were installed (attached to the walls behind them):

Next up?  I will be tiling the floor until the proverbial cows come home.  I will likely spend all weekend on it.  It's easy, but will take a lot of time.  Also, painting.  After that, the rest of the kitchen will be assembled and installed, followed by the countertops being delivered and installed, and finally installing the sink and faucet.  After that, it's tiling the backsplash, adding the hardware and installing new lighting.  Oh, and installing new baseboards and eventually getting new appliances.

Did I mention that Amanda is due to pop out a miniature human literally any day now?  Great timing, no?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Part 3 - An Extended Weekend of Hard Work...

..Just not at Any Properties That I Own.

When I last left off, all those weeks ago, I had finished a bathroom floor. After that? The kitchen floor:

This floor, much like the bathroom floor, was in rough shape and needed replacing. For this project, which took forever, my brother-in-law helped out.

Now it's finished:


Pretty soon, I'll have some work at the house I own in Austin to write about. Legitimate hooray1

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Part 2 - An Extended Weekend of Hard Work...

...Just not at Any Properties That I Own.

The project immediately postceding (probably not a word) the horrible ceiling work from the preceding post was some not as horrible, but still kind of terrible floor work. The bathroom laminate was curling up around the shower and was in generally rough shape:

Note the weird stains on it.

Some quick work with a utility knife, and the offending curled up laminate was history:

A few days earlier, I had advised my parents on what they would need to purchase in order for me to help them out. That list included the stick tile vinyl flooring for this very room. I lugged it from the back of a car and got to work:

After waaaay too much time spent (cutting vinyl tiles to fit around a toilet is really difficult and time consuming), the floor was finished up:

Much better.

All that was left was to run a bead of caulking around the entire room the next day:

In the Exciting Conclusion of An Extended Week of Hard Work Just not at Any Properties That I Own: more of the same, just in a different room.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Part 1 - An Extended Weekend of Hard Work...

...Just not at Any Properties That I Own.

In a pretty incredible turn of events, my parents, who have lived within a drivable-in-one-hour radius since their births, are moving to Nashville, Tennessee.  In other words, they pretty much haven't left New Hampshire/Southern Maine, ever.  Now they will be packing up and moving to the South.  Holy mackerel.  

In order to do this, they need to sell their house.  In order to sell their house, they need to bring it back to "desirable for someone else" level.  It hasn't been at that level for some time.

Because of their needs, I flew up to Manchester, NH, then was driven to New Durham, NH on Wednesday night, prepared to do a bunch of work.  Here is said work:

Second Floor Bathroom

About a year and a half ago or so, my mom saw a chip in the paint in the ceiling.  Instead of patching that chip, then repainting over that patch, she decided to broaden the chip by attempting to remove everything on that ceiling, down to the Sheetrock.  Seriously.

Over many days of scraping, here's where the ceiling had "progressed" to by the time I was home to help out:

And a closeup of the stubborn, unchippable ceiling coverings:

The only real solution to this horrible ceiling problem was to take a bucket or two of joint compound, and "skim coat" the ceiling in its entirety.  In other words, cover the ceiling in a thin layer of joint compound in order to match the 'depth' of the remaining ceiling covering.

Note:  The compound goes on pink, and dries white.  It's very helpful.

Once dry, time for a second coat in some spots:

Once the entire ceiling was coated, imperfections were patched with a second coat, and everything was dry, it was time to sand.  Ugh.

Sanding a ceiling is terrible work.  Human arms are generally not engineered to be above the head over long periods of time.  Making things worse is the constant pushing and moving on said arm.  On top of that, there is a constant rain of joint compound particulate matter covering everything in sight.  To combat the rain, and make cleanup (not of the particulate, but from the messy gunshot wound from the attempted suicide mid-project) a bit easier:

After sanding (and expert gunshot wound repair):

I have no idea what's on the TV behind me in that image, but it looks just impossible to watch.

Once everything was sanded, the project end was nearing.  Time to paint, and use painter's tape:

All finished:

not to self-horn-toot, but it looks way better then when I began, seventy three hours prior to this being taken.  Just kidding.  But it did take a long time.

Next time?  The floor in that very same room was replaced.  STAY TUNED!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

That Other Wall

So, as usual, it's been awhile since I've written. You should be used to this by now. I've been super busy at work, readying the small website I work on for a living, for a significant financial event. My work has been completed for said event, and I now have some time on my hands, as I will not being doing much work until next Monday. Hooray.

Sadly, with all this free time, I will not be able to fill it with rambling blog-posts a plenty. I haven't really done much to the house aside from painting another potentially-baby-terrifying skeleton on a wall. This is that skeleton:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finally, some work.

It’s been about 14 years since I last wrote.  I’ve had nothing really to write about, as work on the house has slowed to a super crawl.  We’re saving up money for a kitchen.  These things take time.

Since my last post, however, life has changed a bit for us.  Not in any major way (yet), but slightly.  Our house renovation priorities have shifted a bit, as we’re going to have a tiny, mucous slinging, pants pooping, scream production plant moving in with us.

In April, Amanda will probably give birth to a miniature male human Topham.  Big mistake.

In light of this development, we’ve started to make some alterations to our guest room to become our permanent crying guest room.  Getting some furniture (thanks parents) and repainting the room has already happened (lighter blue three walls, flat grey/blue one wall).  You will likely see the proverbial fruits of that labor shortly.  Over this last weekend, however, we got cracking making it into an actual kid’s room.

Please keep in mind when reading the rest of this, and looking at the images, that we’d like our offspring to be a man of science, rather than a man of cutesy boring stuff.  The following is a decent head start, but will likely do almost nothing in slowing the cutesy boring stuff train post-birth.

Instead of buying pictures and stuff like that, we decided to paint a big stencil on the wall(s).  Since we both like dorky science stuff, we thought dinosaurs would be appropriate for a boys room, as they are generally awesome.  in attempting to find some images to steal and edit, we didn’t really find anything that we liked.  On Friday evening, knowing that we were going to start working on the stencils this the next day, we continued our image search hoping to find something usable. 

We didn’t find anything that we really liked, only a few things that we found acceptable, when I had the epiphany of using dinosaur skeletons instead of fleshed and skinned cartoon or rendered dinosaurs.  It was a great idea.

We found some cool skeletons to use, I edited them a little bit in Photoshop and we get them printed out.  Here is the first example, expertly printed by our friends over at Office Max (I don’t own a printer):


Stepping back a bit, the way that I usually stencil things is to print out a giant image (usually on many pieces of paper), cut out the stencil from said paper, tape it to whatever it is that I want to paint it on, and paint.  Since our walls are textured (because the house was built in the 80s, which were terrible), my usual way of painting would prove impossible, as I wouldn’t be able to get a crisp line, since the stencil would be off of the wall in some spots, allowing paint to seep behind it.

Amanda had the semi-genius idea to procure a small projector from her workplace.  She got said projector:


We put the printout (regular letter size) under the project, darkened the room, and displayed the image on the wall.  We lined it all up and Amanda got to tracing:


The fun part about the tracing was how small the projector was.  It only showed some of the picture, not all of it.  Amanda had the pleasure of attempting to line up everything she had traced after moving the projector to accommodate the larger than its input printout.  I’m sure it was a joyous chore.

She persevered, and once penciled, it was up to me to fill in this with paint:


To say the the process was painstaking would be pretty accurate.  I had three different sized paint brushes to use and had to trace out and fill in all kinds of weird shapes.


The above took me probably two and a half hours to do.  As you can clearly see, it wasn’t all that close to being finished.  After another two and a half hours of painting, the brontosaurus skeleton that will surely scare our offspring at some point on a stormy night was completed:


Amanda also traced out a Tyrannosaur skeleton on a different wall, but I will pain that one a little later on, when I have five hours of free time.

Admittedly, a stencil of a dinosaur’s bones on a kid’s wall might be a terrible idea.  It could conceivably terrify the child every night.  Amanda and I are banking on the fact that since a baby has no prior experience with anything at all (aside from complete darkness, cramped spaces inside a uterus and muffled noises), he will have no frame of reference for what is and is not scary.  Once the kid is old enough to have developed that frame of reference, we likely won’t live in this house any longer and the stencil would have long bee painted over.

At any rate, I think it looks super awesome, so that little imp can stuff it.