Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grandma's Visit

You're thinking to your self, "Three posts in one night? Doesn't this lady have a life?" What can I say, I've either been slacking in the posting department, really slaving away on the house in the recent week with no time to blog, or a combination of the two.

What do you do when your grandma comes to visit? Me, I get up at the crack of dawn and paint the house, and so does my grandma. We coated the house with GALLONS of paint. Two coats of tinted primer went on the new stucco which I swear consisted of half the house. One coat of primer went on the whole house. Using tinted primer was the key. The new stucco sucked the paint up. We added the top coat and there are still a few patches here and there that we (we, meaning me, now that my grandma has left town, and E if he is unlucky) need to touch up. We moved onto the trim and made it about half way around the house. I'll work my way around the other half in the next week.

The following photos are very misleading. I warn you, none of what you are about to see is the truth, except for the photo of the dog. The truth is, Grandma was the task master around here, I just posed for the picture.

Grandma was working away. She was unstoppable. Yes, she is on a ladder. No, I did not sanction such action. Come to think of it, I have no idea where she got the ladder. Seriously, I don't recognize that ladder, I don't even believe it exists. Truly, this whole this is a mirage caused by the uncharacteristic heat we've been having. (Painting in the heat is the pits)

Sophie supervising. All of what you're seeing below is the unadulterated truth.

Me supervising. In stark contrast to the previous picture, there's a great deal of embellishment happening below.

Again I say, lies, lies, all lies.

Here's a little peak at the finished product. I'll of course post full photos once it truly is finished.


Yes, I did mean to type the title of this post, in all caps. I am SHOUTING if you care to know.

The tour, BEFORE:


Blog by E

This has been an exciting/exhausting last few weeks. Everything we are doing now makes a huge difference in the appearance and is quite gratifying.

Painting continues... here's a rare picture of my lovely wife painting the closet doors.

This picture might be a bit out of chronological sequence with respect to the other blog posts, but since the painting never seems to stop it works.

The master bathroom is finished! I installed the towel bars, the vanity, the toilet, and the shower fixtures over the course of several days. Unlike the apartment plumbing, which I did about a year ago... everything went smoothly and I haven't detected any leaks so far.

Here's a picture of the installed vanity.

And then a closeup of the plumbing underneath.

Notice the little angle brackets that secure the vanity to the wall for when the next big earthquake hits. My dad helped me cut and glue the wood base for under the marble countertop, and then our friendly neighbor helped set it down on the cabinet. I'm sure K will put up a picture of the completed bathroom in an upcoming post, but I'll mention now that the consensus between the contractor, the neighbors, and the family is the bathroom is a timeless beauty.

What to do after finishing the bathroom? Throw in the kitchen cabinets! Our contractor kept his word and offered up 2 of his guys (for free!) on a Saturday to help me get started. While I'd say putting in cabinets isn't rocket science, having a few experienced hands helping certainly cut out most of the learning curve.

This is a picture of all the cabinets in place. I still need to do the island but that will happen after we have a floor. Again, smooth sailing and I'd say that overall, this project took about 1/2 the time I though it would.

Here's 1 of 6 under-cabinet LED light fixtures.

The microwave...

The dog...

Finally, no post would be complete without a solar or heating system update... The solar water collector is increasing in efficiency as the solar elevation angle aligns more closely with my near vertical mounting, and the system is overheating. Water temperatures in the tank are over 180-deg and with very little hot water usage, the pump is shutting off, causing stagnation in the collector. I need to finish my heat-dump loop and add the underground circuit to dissipate this excessive heat.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Paint. Paint the white paint whiter. Remove the old paint just to paint. I find paint under my nails, on my elbow, in my hair, on my lips. It's everywhere - insidious. Just when I think I'm done, there's more; a spot here, a drop there, a newly drilled hole waiting to be filled and painted over. MORE, MORE, MORE.

The paint. It'll be my end.

Yet, the end is in sight for the back portion of the house. I can see it. I can smell it. I can taste it - thanks to the paint previously found on my lip.

Preparations have begun on the outside of the house for my grandma's visit. Ah, you say, "How fun, your grandmother is coming into town for a visit. You'll take a break from the house, show her the town and eat some lovely meals." Ah-ha friend, this is where you're wrong. She, like all the others before her, comes to WORK! No one leaves unscathed. Actually, I think she's rather excited to help. I'm sure glad to have her on her way. We're planning to paint as much of the exterior as is possible for the two of us in a week's time.

Thus, E and I have been prepping the exterior so that when Grandma arrives, painting can commence. This means stripping the trim, digging out any dry-rot, filling the holes, sanding and priming.

These are my three new best friends:

The first window E went at with a blowtorch and scraper. We received a handy tip from my brother in-law to about a fancy window stripping tool.

I, a bit nervous about burning the house down, used the traditional scrapper and the new age scraper and think it turned out quite nicely.

I've rounded the corner on the house and while E is in San Diego working his tail off, I'll be trying to finish scraping the window trim. As I said before, pain, paint, removing paint, paint.

On a prettier note - the closet is done in the master bedroom. Door handles cleaned and re-installed with an added washer so they don't dangle lifelessly from the doors like in the former days. If you look really, really, really, really closely you can see the new washer in the photo below. Don't see it? Good. See it? Don't tell me.

Here's an action shot of the closet installation. Some left over trim boards were put to work for the top shelf and as added support strips for both the upper and lower clothes rods.

With the completion of the closet, the master bedroom is officially done! We're nearing completion of the master bath as well. We tried to pick up the vanity top from the stone cutters but the owner tried to haggle us up on the price over the phone as we were trying to pay for it. E had a plane to catch but managed to stay calm as he dealt with the matter. It probably didn't help that I was screeching in the background, "HE TOLD ME $700, HOW DARE HE! DOESN'T HE REALIZE HE'S TRYING TO GOUGE US FOR $100 WHEN HE HAS ANOTHER POTENTIAL JOB FROM US WITH THE KITCHEN!"

That being said, we're picking up the bathroom counter in several days, for the initially agreed upon price and I'll still get a bid from this guy plus from several others for the kitchen. Here's the stone I'm eyeing at the moment.

There are more pronounced flecks of white in it that I can't seem to capture with my camera. All we have to do is install the cabinets and they can come measure for the counter.

I'm waiting patiently for our contractor to get back to us with a date to come help with the install. He's generously donating his time to us. I think I'll write him an e-mail right now...