Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Friendly(??) Visitor

This past Friday I was picking up sticks in the front yard in preparation for the first lawn mowing of the season (yuck!).  There were a few high spots of grass (where we actually have grass growing) and some serious weeds that needed mowed down.  I was listening to some music, minding my own business, making a game out of how many sticks I could pickup before having to change location, when I almost picked up this snake!  I got within inches when I saw it turn its head and stick out its tongue.  I had to place emergency phone calls to my parents and Andy for an iphone photo ID because I was too afraid to walk away from it for fear that it would move and surprise me as a stick somewhere else in the yard (or worse yet, become a victim of the lawn mower -- gross!!).  Our best guess at an ID is an Eastern Garter Snake.  It's actually a beneficial snake, but I was happy to watch it slither away (about an hour and a half later!) as I was mowing the lawn.  It was about 24" long -- or 20" longer than my snake comfort zone (i.e. anything bigger than a worm!).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden Update

Since we got a late start with the garden last year because it took us awhile to pick a location and build the beds we were excited to get started early this year (or maybe closer to being on-time).  Some of you may be totally bored by the early garden plants but this photo documentation is way better than a written journal (just typing the word makes me twitch a little bit) so you'll just have to ignore my garden and landscaping updates until I can get to something more exciting (like the awesome tile that is going in around the bathtub!).  We're attempting to follow some of the methods from the Square Foot Gardener book.  I love the concept but not the author. He seems to think that he invented gardening!

Here is some (surprising healthy, at least in my opinion) Greek Oregano that survived the mild winter. 

The oregano is hanging out with the garlic I planted at the very beginning of November (I should have planted it in October but I think the mild winter saved me)

Our first planting of snow peas (I think these are Oregon giant, a bush variety).  These were planted about two weeks ago.

 And the second planting of snow peas (these are Dwarf Grey, a climbing variety) are just starting to pop up.  We planted these about a week ago.

A few spinach and broccoli plants.  I didn't have great luck with broccoli last year.  I tried to start it from seed and I planted it way too late in the spring.  Hopefully this year will be more successful.

I got these tomato teepees on sale at the end of last year in the hopes of getting some earlier tomatoes.  I know it's crazy early to plant tomatoes, but Walmart was actually selling them so I thought it was worth the chance.  I actually found a pot with two plants for the price of one and they have grow noticeably since I planted them over a week ago.  If we succeed we'll have early tomatoes and either way it's worth a try.  We are supposed to get freezing temperatures tonight so I covered them with an old sheet.  Hopefully they will survive. 

I also started some seeds in the basement.  Some herbs, tomatoes, eggplant, and lettuce. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

We Have Closets (With Doors!!!)

I'm pretty sure that the bifold doors for the closets in the master bathroom and bedroom were one of the first purchases we made.  They have been sitting in the office for months!  With the drywall and painting finished we could finally install them.  Andy got the door on his closet.  It still needs trim and the door needs painted, but at least we have functioning doors!

Installing the door jam in the bathroom.

 Can't wait to build some shelves and actually use this space!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Filling In the Cracks

We probably could have grouted the tile one night after work, but after our marathon tiling session we needed a break.  We waited until this past weekend to install the grout.

Andy took this job on himself.  It's a small space and it was easier for just one person to grout the floor tiles.

We love the results!!  Now we have to tile the tub surround.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Floor Tile

Last weekend we spent all day Saturday (12 hours!) installing the floor tile in the master bathroom.  We have 12x12" tile and used a brick pattern on a diagonal.  We knew that this pattern would make more cuts and take longer to install, but we heard from several people that straight lines in a long, narrow space, can really highlight imperfections.  Originally I wanted the diagonals to run the other direction (If you're a Manning or related to one, you can appreciate that tile, like fish in a wall sculpture, can go the "right way" or the "wrong way")  Basically, our tiles are "swimming" the wrong direction, but there was absolutely no way to install them in that direction without tiling yourself into a corner.  Andy would have had to live in the bathroom (minus the toilet) for 24 hours until the thinset dried!

We dry laid the first few rows to practice some of the cuts and work in the closet before we mixed the thinset and had to start laying the tile.

Andy borrowed a tile saw from a co-worker (thanks to JM!) and we set it up over the bathtub so that we didn't have to truck up and down the steps and out to the garage to make all of the cuts.

The "affectionately" named dinosaur tile!

It took us a few tries to get a system down, but by this point we had it down to a science.  We would measure and make all of the necessary cuts, Andy applied the thinset, and then I laid the tiles.

It actually took two days to do all of the tile 1)because we were too tired to finish it Saturday night, and 2) it was easier to work in the small space since we could walk on the tile we installed on Saturday.

All done and ready for grout!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vanity Lights

I searched for months for lights to put above the new vanities.  The big box stores didn't have anything we liked so we tried some smaller lighting stores in the area -- still nothing.  I looked online and even bought some that I ended up sending back.  We knew we wanted a 3-light fixture and it had to be relatively short (our vanities are only 30 inches wide).  Some of the lights that we liked looked too white next to our off-white cabinets, so I just kept looking.  I finally found these at Yale Electric.   We can't wait to see them with the vanities in place, but for now we just wanted more light to install the floor tile.

The middle light bulb in this fixture is another LED bulb (the rest are incandescent bulbs).  The LED bulb is way too blue for the bathroom lighting.  We'll stick to incandescent bulbs for this room.  Overall we really like the concept of the LED bulbs, but we're not completely sold yet.  We tried several in the bathroom and family room.  The color varies greatly and some of them make a very faint buzzing noise.  The technology is still very new so I think we'll wait a little while and try them again once some of the bugs are worked out. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Master Bathroom Updates

I am way behind on my blogging.  Apparently we are doing work around the house faster than I can write about it.  I'm an engineer because I like numbers a lot more than words and the writing part of this whole blog thing is not my favorite, but we really do love being able to look back through the blog and see what we have accomplished.  Bear with me while I try to play catch-up...

Andy was home from work a day last week and he painted the walls in the bathroom.  We picked a light grayish-greenish-taupey kind of color.  I think I need to learn how to use white balance with the camera because these pictures really don't show the true color.  On my computer these pictures make the walls look a bit sea-foamy green, but it's not all accurate.  

Neither of us are good at cutting in by hand, so it's worth it to us to take the time to tape the ceiling.

After two coats of paint Andy was able to cut the underlayment for the new tile.  We chose a product called Ditra mat in place of cement backer board.  It's lighter and supposed to be easier to install, but it is more expensive.  After using backer board in the tub surround we thought this product could be worthwhile.  The tile has been down since last weekend and while we are not unhappy with the Ditra mat, we're not sure it's worth the extra money.

After laying it all out Andy was able to attach it to the subfloor with a thin layer of thinset.

We taped a temporary plastic border to protect the newly painted walls (this picture is probably the best representation of the wall color).  It's officially ready for floor tile!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Andy's Closet

We have both been very excited to get our closets back.  Andy currently has stuff in two different closets and we each have clothing in three different rooms.  By the time we get dressed every morning and then find socks and shoes I think we've probably walked a half mile!  

Andy's new closest is a square and he knew exactly what he wanted -- 2 bars of hanging clothes and some hooks on the side.  I, on the other hand, have drawn three different 3D models of my closet in Google SketchUp, and am looking at the 4th type of closet organization system.  I'll figure it out eventually.

On one of our weekly trips to Lowe's Andy got of the the supplies to mount in his closet and broke out his laser level to get it setup.

It's exactly what he wanted and now all of his hanging clothes are in one place!  We'll share the shoe storage and shelf space in the second closet.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Little Bit of Primer and a Little Bit of Paint

After the drywallers finished this is what the family room ceiling looked like.

We added a coat of primer to all of the new drywall last Saturday....

And on Sunday we painted all of the ceilings and closets.

6.5 gallons of primer and paint later...
After one coat of paint.  The picture doesn't do the new paint justice -- it's wonderful to have a real ceiling again (with lights, too)!

Power room ceiling with finished drywall.

And after one coat of primer and one coat of paint.  We obviously still have some work to do on the walls, but the powder room renovation is another project.  At least we have a fan!
Knee wall with finished drywall.  We have real corners!  We were also very please with how they transitioned to the old wall.

This is after one coat of primer.  Painting the hallway is another project.

No more nail pops at the top of the steps!

The old closet door location.

Good-bye door!

Real corners where the new closet meets the old ceiling.

The larger of the two closets.

After a coat of primer.

Almost seemless -- we just need to pick a paint color for the bedroom to finish the new closets.

The smaller closet.