Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Meet Blue

I have a new man in my life.  Meet Blue.
This was taken three weeks ago, when we brought him home.  He's an Australian Shephard.  Kev knew a lady who gave him to us for free.  Usually Aussie's sell for big bucks.  He's from working parents, so they could have gotten a lot of money for him.  Instead, they generously gave him to me to love.
We haven't had a puppy for 10 years, since Midnight came to live with us.  I'd forgotten what a new puppy means...  Taking him potty, taking him out to poop, taking him to the pen.  To bed, to play.  I'm sleeping with one ear open again, waiting for him to let me know that he needs to go outside. Just like I did when my kids were babies! Oh for the oblivion of a full nights sleep again!
But it's short term...right???

 Here's Blue today.  Yes, he has a sore, red eye.  The vet is pretty sure he's going to lose it.  I mean, he'll lose vision in it.  If he hasn't already.  We're not sure if he jabbed something in it or if he just had an infection.  He did have a goopy eye for a week, but I just thought it was something like my cats get...Not.  So, on Monday, we brought him to the vet.  We got antibiotics and eye ointment and have been trying to save his eye. Because he has to have his medicine 4 times a day, he comes to work with me.  (Yes I cleared it with my Boss.  And if he gets too rambunctious, we'll stay home.)  After seeing the Dr. again today, we're pretty sure he's going to be blind in this eye.  (And it was his BLUE eye!)  Still not sure if he poked it with a stick or something or if it's just an infection.  If it isn't better on Friday, the vet wants to sedate him and look to see if there is something in there somewhere.

At this point, I don't care if he loses his sight.  I just want him healthy again!  He and I can deal with blindness.

He's been such a good boy.  He has gotten carsick two of the past three days coming to work.  Today, I didn't give him as much dog food.  Which must have worked--he didn't get sick today!   But I bring a little "diaper bag" for my baby.  It has a baggie of food (in case he got car sick again.)  Some snacks, a rawhide chew bone.  Water, a towel, and sock that he likes to chew on and drag around and his wolf beanie baby.  And his blanket.  See, it's a diaper bag!

He comes in on his leash (and at 12 weeks, he's young to do so well on a leash.)  He makes the rounds of the library with me to open up and then he comes in the office and lays down on his blanket and sleeps.  We go out to potty and then it's time for lunch.  I've had some errands at noon lately, so he just rides with me.  Today, he felt well enough to run around and "chase" me outside.  Then he either takes a nap, or checks out the college kids.  When we get home, he goes with me to let the big dogs out of the pen and he chases and runs with them, mauls the kittens, and hangs out.

I'm hoping we can leave him home again next week... and we can if his eye heals enough that we can leave off the cone and if he doesn't have to have medicine 4 times a day...

Regardless, he's my baby and the new man in my life.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Siding part 2

Siding is complete!
Not painted yet, but it's up!
Not Caulked yet, but up!

Kim and Bob came out to help us finish the east side.  The four of us work well together.  Kim did most of the cuts, I was the gopher and I was the third ladder person for those high sections. (I did better than I thought!)

 Here's the house looking towards the front.  We're looking Southwest.  If you check out the last post, you can see how much grass has grown in the last 7 years!.  It's fall, so it's not green, but it's not dirt either!
 The East side of the house, showing the rock area.  We installed the big bay window at the top.  Right below that, the long skinny window was where we'd taken out a set of French doors.  We just didn't see the sense of having them with the entry door, and that's where we put in the pellet stove.
Another shot of the front...There's only one door on this end now, the sliding doors.  There used to be another door on this side also.  (The person who built this house must have had a thing for doors!)

We're still debating colors...We looked at shades of brown--similar to cedar.  We looked at grays.  (Kevin then veto'd gray.)  Now we're considering green.  An Olive green?  Grayish green?  We haven't decided yet.

This weekend we hope to get it all caulked and some trim put back up along the roofline.  I'm guessing paint won't come until spring.  We're getting late in the year to think about painting.

It's done, and it looks so nice!  Can't wait to see the difference in our heating bills!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Siding Project

Kevin and I have been re-siding our house.  It's been an adventure.  In exhausting adventure.  A real work out.  A slow process.  Here's some "Before" pictures.  This first one is WAY before.  Because all that bare dirt?  It's now grass!  And the three windows at the top?  They were replaced by a bay window.  Gosh...I really need to take some updated pictures of our place!

 The "old new door" has been replaced.
The garage doors are staying. Because they were a project from a few years ago.  Still work beautifully.  But that siding?  It's all gone.

 Right now, the house looks like this!

Right now, the North side is the only side with intact siding.  (it was probably the easiest side to do!)

Kev and I have debated for over a year about what kind of siding we wanted.  I really wanted to put up siding that looks like logs.  He vetoed it simply because of the maintenance it requires.  We discussed the merits of vinyl, or cement fiber board.  We discussed if we wanted to stay with the current look of our house, or change it.  We discussed hiring the job out, or doing it ourselves.  Anything you can discuss about siding, we did.

Finally, this year, we decided we couldn't put off the decision forever.  So, we bit the bullet and decided to go with fiber cement board siding.  Why?  Well, a big factor was it's fire resistance.  We live in the country, surrounded by pasture and wheat fields.  Prairie fires move fast.  Cement board is fire resistant.  It is also relatively cheap and very durable.  

We picked the width we thought we liked and bought it.  But there was one issue that stalled us.  We felt like the east side (the walk out basement side) needed something...more.  It was such a huge span of space that we felt it looked...bland.  So we then debated whether to go with a stone facade, or something else.  Whether to go with stone panels, or individual stone blocks or faux stone.  We priced it, and gave up, finding it would cost as much as the actual siding.

But then we walked through our favorite store, Menards, and found a siding display that used stone.  Paving stones.  What a novel idea!  We priced it, and discovered it was MUCH more affordable.  So that's what we did.  We put the stone (above) on the walls stopping three feet above the ground.  It took a while--a long while--to install, but we love it!   (and yes, that's a new front door!)

We intended to start and finish the project over the labor day weekend. Oh, we were so naive.  We had help that first weekend.  But we got to the point you see here.  We discovered the old cedar siding was brittle and just shattered and splintered as we pulled it down, taking forever.  

Our house had never been wrapped, so we wrapped it for a better weather barrier (and to hopefully stop the breeze that blows under my bathroom cabinet.)  After our help went home, Kev's only help was me.

He and I have spent every weekend this month working on the house.  (Well, except one weekend, when he had to work at the hospital.) Yesterday, we finished the West and the South sides.  All we have left is the East side, above the basement level.  It's a side I'm not looking forward to doing.  I can do ladders, I just don't like to!  Hopefully, our help can come back next week and help finish this final side of the house.

So, how good of help am I?  Well, I've gotten better with the nail gun!  Lifting and holding the siding isn't an issue, but carrying 3 to 4 pieces very far very often gets tiring.  And I have this hitch in my hip that really has objected to the activity.  Today, I hurt! I can say, with complete confidence, that I don't ever want to earn my living by installing siding...all the measuring and math to figure where to start each course on each side is frustrating. We've stopped working every night exhausted.  Kev asked if it was because we're getting old, or because it's just simply hard work.  I voted for the hard work.  

But, we're getting it done.  It will look nice (once I pick out a paint color and paint it all.)  It should make our house more energy efficient.  I just hope we finish before the snow flies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I lied

I lied.

I said I was going to stitch "Glory in the Morning."  Instead, I started this one:

It's by Blackberry Lane Designs and called
"Nativity Story Square Table Topper"
Three colors, Navy, Yellow and Gold.

I bought the pattern and the fabric five or six years ago. I also bought some hand dyed thread to use instead of using DMC floss.

Just to try something different ;)

I'm working on the star first.  Of course the star consists of the yellow blended with the metallic gold floss.  Which is reminding me why I hate stitching with metallic floss.  I love the end result, but hate the actual stitching.  Metallic floss just twists and knots and doesn't lay as flat as it should. Thankfully, the star is the only place I'm using it!

I will stitch "Glory" it's just when I started getting ready to pull the floss, I found I really just didn't want to do it.  This project jumped out and said, "stitch me, stitch me!" instead.  You should always listen to projects that beg to be stitched.

When I bought this, I thought I'd frame it and hang it above our couch at Christmas.  Don't know if it will be finished for this Christmas, but the thought has entered my mind that this might make a nice Christmas gift.

We will see what my instincts tell me to do once it's finished.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Eldar's Secret--FINISHED

Da da da DAAAAA!
 Finished!  After 18 months, Eldar's Secret is FINISHED!
Can I express how satisfied I am to have finished this HUGE project?

567,000 STITCHES.
90 colors of floss.
Hours of time.

But it's finished.  I'm not sad to finish.  It's very fulfilling and satisfying to finish.  This hasn't been my most difficult project.  By difficult, I'm thinking of those projects with lots and lots of 1/2 stitches and 3/4 stitches with lots and lots of backstitiching that you have to count out exactly or rip and start over repeatedly.  But it was difficult in the amount of short sections with lots of color changes.  The blocks at the top of the project had the biggest run of single color blocks.  The dragons the least.  I can't tell you how often I'd finish stitching a color and then realizing that there was ONE stupid stitch of this color in this next section.  ONE STUPID STITCH.  Sometimes I'd pull that floss color back out of the box and stitch that one stitch in the correct color.  Other times, I admit, I looked at the picture, at where we were in the picture, and I'd substitute a color (usually the one I was presently using).  

Am I ready to attack a full sized Heaven & Earth design?  Not right now.  Maybe when I retire!  12 pages took me 18 long would 30 pages take?  Or 60!

Nope.  I'll turn my attention to a new project, one not so challenging or time consuming...I hope!  My next project is below:
Glory in the Morning

It's 3 feet tall!  Hand dyed two-tone linen fabric.
I can't wait to start!

I also can't wait to see Eldar framed and up in my office.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The finished Kitchen

You know us, we don't go very long without remodeling something!  
Miss Kat's High School Graduation is over.  Track season is over.  School is out, which means that I have Friday's off.  Which also meant that I had lots of "free" time to do projects!

After much thought and discussion, Kevin agreed that I could paint the kitchen cabinets.  Remember back in January when we replaced the counter tops?  I said then that the Oak just didn't match the new tops or the trim that we stained to match the counter tops and new back splash.  We (I) decided to take a chance and paint the cabinets.

I looked at lots of examples of rustic cabinet treatments on Pinterest and the web.  I thought about what I wanted, and decided on a Barn Red with a black glaze.  Except I wasn't sure I wanted to go with black, but thought a dark brown would work.  I asked opinions from lots of friends and family members.  I especially picked the brain of Megan, who had recently painted her cabinets.  She's in the design business and I value her opinion and experience.  She let me know that it was a lot of work, and she was right!

Before pictures:  just as a reminder of where we started!

So, three weeks ago, I started sanding the cabinets.  I removed the doors, removed the hardware, and sanded.

And sanded.
And bought more sandpaper.
And sanded.

Then I stopped by Sherwin Williams for paint.

I got primer (tinted dark grey), and the paint.

Two weekends ago, I painted.  On Friday, I painted the primer.  Two coats.  On Saturday, I painted red.   Two coats.  (actually three on the cabinet doors.)  I painted from 8 in the morning until after 9 p.m. both days.  I held a brush so long that I had blisters!

I also made a mad dash to the paint store for wall paint because we knew we weren't keeping the green, but I hadn't decided on a color.
And on Sunday, I made another mad dash to Dodge to the paint store because I hated the first color I'd picked!  It was too light and just didn't work.

This past Friday, I mixed my glaze color.  And instantly began second guessing my color choice.  It wasn't as dark as I'd envisioned.  But I was NOT making another trip to town to change colors!  And I persevered.  And texted photos to Megan and Bailey for their input.  Both said they liked it, but I wasn't sure...
I finally decided that if I hated it when done, I could put another glaze over this one, but use black.

On Saturday, I took a break and went with Kevin to Wichita.  He was helping some friends move.  I went along and helped unload the truck.  We also stopped by Menards on our way home to get a few items we needed.  Like spray paint.

We'd decided to re-use the existing hardware, but we both really disliked it.  So, we spray painted it Oil-Rubbed Bronze.  

At Menards, we also bought a piece of beadboard to put on the front of the bar (the dining room side.)  I'd painted it, but it was that paper-covered plywood, like what we had on the sides of all of our el-cheapo cabinets.  That large of an area didn't take the paint well and I really hated the look of it--even after I glazed it.  It just looked awful.  We had to do something with it!

On Sunday, we rehung the cabinet doors, and I put on all the hardware.  Kev put up the bead board.  (which necessitated another flying trip to Dodge, because his staple/finish nail gun died.  We bought a new one.  He uses it way too often to be without!)

Here's the finished project (pre clean-up):

The east wall.

The West wall.
 The Dining Room side of the bar with it's new beadboard walls.
 The South wall.

 The North side/kitchen side of the bar.

I still need to paint the dining room.  It's still green.  I'm happy with the beige/tan wall color (it's darker in person than in photos.)  It goes great with my window treatment, so I'm keeping my chicken valances. (Yeah!)  

I do have a small confession.  It's been humid enough that drying time is a wee bit slower than anticipated.  I stacked my doors to bring upstairs, and a couple of them stuck together!  I have to touch up two cabinets.  And I think I will take Megan's advice and get some water based Polyurethane and give everything a coat--including the hardware.  I'm hoping I can apply it without dismantling everything...we'll see.  I also need to find some little pads to put in the corners of the cabinet doors to help with the "bang" upon closing.

And, for some reason, a couple of the big pantry doors don't line up like they did.  Kev tried leveling them, but that caused a gap problem.  So, we have to be a little careful about closing them just right, but I can live with that.  Hopefully this will last us till we can remodel the entire kitchen, in three or four years.

Kev is not a paint guy.  He really likes the beauty of natural wood (if you hadn't figured that out by now!)  He admitted that this looked nice, and looked better than what we had, and that he didn't necessarily have faith in me.  He just KNEW that I'd get started and that something wouldn't work right and we'd be forced to buy new cabinets.  He of little faith :)

I decided that the brown glaze works well.  It brings out the browns in the trim, the back splash and the counter tops.  The black hardware brings out the black in it does work.  (I shouldn't doubt myself as much as I do either!)

I'd like to say this was a cheap fix, but it wasn't cheap.  I spent $200 in paint and primer.  I guess that's cheaper than a new kitchen, but it was more than I hoped to spend :).  However...I think buying GOOD paint is worth it.  
Right now, I'm ready to retire my brush and get my kitchen back to normal.  I need to finish Kat's scrapbook/album (with graduation stuff.)  I've got a cross stitch project to finish.  (I haven't touched it since April!) I've got flower beds to weed, and hopefully some canning in my future.  

Today, I'm the new look in the kitchen and am ready for normal.  However...Miss Kat did mention that her bathroom is the only room in the house we haven't touched.  We might have to look into that!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Never ending remodeling.

You'd think we were done with the remodel of Andy's bathroom.
But you'd be wrong.
We thought we were done in that bathroom.  
We were wrong too!

Here's the towel rods we originally installed.  They looked nice, but they kept pulling out of the wall or would fall off the brackets.  These are the kind where you don't have any visible screws, and they hook over brackets that you tighten a screw against the bracket to hold them to the wall.  

Nice in theory.  Not so nice in actual practice.

So, I've been brainstorming, and shopping, looking for something that would stay on the wall and still be "oil rubbed bronze."

I got the idea for the new ones we have by thinking about the stair rail in Mom and Dad's house.  It's simply a galvanized pipe screwed to the wall.  Now, granted, as a pretentious teenager, I thought it was cheap and hokey, and just lived with it.  (It was better once we painted it bright apple green!)  But now, I was thinking how it has been on that wall for almost 100 years and was trying to think of a towel rack that would do as well...Eureka!

 So I presented my idea to Kevin, to make towel racks out of galvanized pipe.  He was skeptical, but I searched Pinterest and found several examples.  I even found some painted black and a couple with a shelf.

I had him hooked on the idea with the shelf.

So on Saturday morning, Kev went to town and came home with all the hardware for new towel racks.
I washed them up--to scrub the protective coating and oil off the metal.  Kevin built his rack.  I spray painted it.  Kev then went out and found a piece of wood, cut it to fit, drilled the holes for the pipe, and we were in business!

I washed the piece of wood, because it was pretty dirty!  Kev spaced his brackets so that two were in studs and he installed those plastic brackets in the other holes.  THIS towel rack isn't going anywhere!

I LOVE it!

(Note, we did use ONE recycled pipe out of some that Kev had at home.  We didn't have any brackets or elbows.  I'm sure we could have found some if we'd gone to the farm, but it was easier to buy new.  But rest assured, I'm thinking of other ways to use some old pipe that's laying around!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eldar update Page 9

It's been a while since I've update progress on Eldar.  I'm on page 9 now.  Pages 8 and 9 have proven to be confetti heavy and have taken me much longer than anticipated.  Or maybe my finishing speed has had more to do with the holidays and working on the house.

I started this project a year ago.  I see the end in sight, and have hopes to finish this by the beginning of summer.  I'm taking some vacation time next week, but I won't be able to stitch much because I promised Miss Kat that I'd finish her scrapbook/photo album by graduation.  I need to spend some crunch time on that next week instead of stitching.  Since we finished laying floor in Miss Kat's room, and moved her big stuff in, I was able to stitch for about an hour last night.

I think I needed to step back today and look at the big picture of this project again.  I've gotten tunnel vision with this, and had forgotten what a big accomplishment this will be for me!  You know, over all, I've enjoyed working on this.  Sure I get frustrated with the thousands of color changes, and it annoys me to no end when I think I've stitched all of one particular color in an area and then find that ONE darn stitch that I missed.  But still, this has been relatively enjoyable and relaxing for me.

I've thought about doing a normal sized Heaven and Earth Design, but it's taken me over a year to stitch a mini design.  The bigger designs can run 30+ pages!  I'm just not sure I'm ready to spend that much time on a project!

I'll be glad when Eldar is finished.  This page, page 9, is the last of the full sized pages.  The last 3 pages are about 1/3 of the size, so they should go fast.  In the meantime, I think I'll take a minute and just sit back and appreciate what I've accomplished so far!

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's time for something to go right. Isn't it?

Our basement is a mess.  Carpet is gone, laminate is gone.  Miss Kat is sleeping in Andy's old bedroom.  She's also taken over the newly remodeled bathroom.  (And she broke off one of the new towel rods.)  She has stuff upstairs, downstairs, and in the garage.

The garage is so full of her stuff that I couldn't get to the recycling yesterday.  I can get to the freezers, but can't get to much else.

Kev and I went carpet/flooring shopping in Wichita Saturday.  It's rather overwhelming when you don't know what you want, and you don't really know what you want to spend.  We'd discussed our options.  We decided to go back with carpet. We tossed around the idea of carpet tiles, but we wanted more information about them before committing.  We've tossed around radiant heat with tile or wood.  But we just didn't really feel strongly one way or another about anything.

On the drive, we were enjoying music on the radio, when we noticed the display going bonkers.  (Bonkers IS an adjective!)  It started flashing, the display kept blinking, going dark, becoming normal, going bonkers again.  We were almost to Wichita when it went OFF.  Just blacked out.  Then we smelled hot plastic.  Wei figured it had shorted out and all was well.  Who really needs the display of the clock and the radio station?

Then we attempted to turn it off.  Nothing.
I attempted to turn it down.  Nothing.
I tried to change the station.  Nothing.

We had no control of the radio.  We finally pulled the fuse just to turn the darn thing off.

At this point, I was fed up.  Frustrated.  We paid off the loan for this car one month ago.  I was ready to go buy a new one.

But, logic prevailed, and we continued with our flooring shopping.  We took a break for lunch and our friends, Kim and Bob called.  They were headed to Wichita as well, so we hooked up with them and spent the rest of the day running around.  We even went to supper.  If they hadn't come down, I'd have probably bought a new vehicle.  Not because I want to, but because I just want something to go right!

Yesterday, Kev went out to start our Diesel pickup.

It wouldn't start.

He fiddled with this and that.  Nothing.
He changed the fuel filter.  Nothing.

I tell ya, after all the water issues, along with trouble we've been having with our home internet, and now TWO vehicles acting up...I've just about had it!

Maybe we should  have gone car shopping!

After the events of the last two weeks, I'm ready for a break.  It's time for something to go right!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Good bye laminate floors

Last Thursday morning, Kevin went down to feed the dogs at 6 a.m.  He quickly came back upstairs, very angry, and said, "The basement is full of water."

He then disappeared back downstairs.

I went down to find him mopping up water in the main room.  You know, the one we'd finished remodeling a little over a year ago.  The floor was soaked.  Laminate floor + lots of water = disaster.

Also soaked were the bathroom floor, and both bedroom floors.  But where did the water come from?  The main floor bathrooms are both over the garage.  The garage was dry.  We checked the middle bedroom, because the kitchen drain and the laundry room are above it.  Dry ceiling and walls.  That left the basement bathroom.  But no water was running in there.

Finally, through process of elimination, we decided it had to have been the toilet.  The top of the toilet was wet, but it wasn't running over, and the water level was normal.  Kev flushed it, it flushed just fine.  We decided it had to have been plugged and eventually, after running over for hours, resolved itself.  Either that or the dogs did something.

Poor Miss Kat, she was blamed for the fiasco.

Poor us, we had a mess on our hands.
 See the swollen seams?
 Here, the trim bowed.
 The floor in the middle bedroom
The floor in Miss Kat's room.  (Yes, she's a pig.  she had stuff all.over.the.floor.)

I contacted our insurance company.  An Adjuster came out on Monday.  I stayed home from work to visit with him.  All went well, we're set with insurance to replace it all.

On that same Monday morning, around 6:20, Kevin came rushing back into the bedroom, turned on lights, started throwing clothes around, and said, "We just had a pipe burst. I'm sorry, but I had to turn off the water."


Yes, it was -4 outside.  Yes, a water pipe broke in the wall by the stairs.  He just happened to be on the stairs and heard it break.  His quick thinking saved us from MORE water damage.

But, this meant that I'd be home all day without water.  Which meant no bath for me.  It also meant no laundry as well!

But, we're prepared.  I keep bottled water, and I keep one of the water coolers full in the garage.  So I had water.  Kev repaired the pipe that night and put extra insulation in the wall.  We've ripped out the carpet and the laminate floor.  We're now deciding just what to put down now.

I think we've both agreed that we won't put laminate down again.  While it's pretty, the basement was colder this winter.  We really think we need that insulation aspect of carpet. Miss Kat wants laminate in her bedroom, and we might do that--simply because it's a small area and we think we can salvage enough to do her room.  

But for the main living area...we're leaning to carpet tiles at this point.

Who knows.  All I know is I'm going to miss my wood floors.  I also really  hope that we are DONE with water issues!


Miracle of all miracles, we finished putting down our new counter tops.  Formica is down.  New edging is on and stained.  It's finally a functioning kitchen again!
 This is the bar area where it meets the west wall.  Here you can see the finished shelf Kev built.
 The sink area... note the nice wood looking back splash!
 Over by the stove.  (Yes, that's two new loaves of homemade bread on the counter.)
 Here's a close-up of how we finished the front edge of the counter top.  It's a wee bit distressed and jagged.  On purpose!
The cabinet on the left is one Kevin built me years ago.  We stained it to better match the edge of the new counter tops.

And, we're trying to decide about staining the cabinets.  The doors and the fronts won't be a problem--they are solid wood.  But the sides of the cabinets...they aren't wood.  They are thin plywood covered with vinyl.  So, do I paint that vinyl to match my wall color (to be determined.  I'm still thinking of leaving it green.)  Or do we spend MORE money on cabinets that I hope will be temporary.  Right now, Kev's leaning toward leaving the cabinets alone and not re-staining them.  I was ready to stain them, until this past Thursday.  (that post is above.)

I think we'll worry about the basement, and then we'll come back to the kitchen and make a final decision about whether or not to stain the cabinet fronts.  (But I'm always open to advice and ideas!)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Andy's bathroom remodel

When we bought this house, there was one room that was not painted white.  It was this bathroom, the main bath, the guest bath, or as we call it, "Andy's bathroom."  He doesn't live with us anymore, but it will probably always be "Andy's bathroom".
 When we first walked in, it was a little overwhelming, all this purple--even the ceiling was purple!
 But, with daylight streaming in the skylight, it's a nice bright room!  That skylight is the only window in this bathroom, and I really love it.  I'd like to put a skylight in my laundry room too, but that will have to wait until we have to replace the roof.  I would never have picked this color, nor would I ever have painted the ceiling.  It's textured. Not a popcorn ceiling, but with what I call a swirly pattern.  Like it was combed with someone's fingers.  Unfortunately, this bathroom had a crappy tub.  It was a one piece unit--walls and tub all made of fiberglass.  Molded into one piece.  And it never drained well.  And the faucet was crap.  We decided to remove the tub and install a walk in shower.  We've still got 2 bathrooms with 2 tubs, and since this one is used primarily as a shower by guests, we decided to make the change.
 Construction wasn't without some challenges...the vent pipe was under the tub, the water lines came up through the floor instead of in the wall and we had to move the drain 6 inches.  We chose the above shower kit.  It's an Onyx product.  Solid surface.  And it's manufactured here in Kansas.  It also has a lifetime guarantee.  My brother had one installed in his house and he really likes it.  It's easy to clean (vinegar and water) and needs very little maintenance.  Someday, we can even add a bench of we desire.  We also replaced the floor in front of the toilet/shower area.  We found a wood looking tile in barnwood grey.  Was super easy to lay the tile and used very little grout.  (In fact, I have a nice big bucket of grey grout if anyone needs some.  I bought way too much grout!)

Kev left the transition strip brown.  Me, I'd have stained it grey to match the floor.
We even switched out the towel rods and the faucet to oil-rubbed bronze.  (We'll replace the actual sink soon. Someone accidently did something to the drain and it leaks.  He damaged the sink, not the drain pipe.  I just need to pick out a new sink and this bathroom is complete!)

I left it all purple because I really had no idea what other color to paint this room, and the thought of painting the ceiling terrified me!  And, I still like the purple!  It turned into a very nice looking bathroom ready for visitors!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A simple project...

This is my kitchen.   I've always had a love/hate relationship with this kitchen.  I hate the white floor.  (Why would anyone put in a white floor when you live in the country?)  I like the counter space, but I dislike the "cabinets."  They aren't real cabinets.  Well, the upper cabinets are real, but the lower ones are a framework with shelves open from one end to the other.  And the corner cabinet by the stove and the one by the dishwasher are so deep and run back in the corners where you can't retrieve anything, or even see anything.  They are cheap, cheap, cheap.  Functional--to a point, but still cheap.(Please ignore the formica on the floor, and the mess.  And keep reading for an explanation of the mess!)

 And, now ignore the half loaf of bread :)  Concentrate instead on the colors and the formica.  While I have plenty of counter space, I've never been crazy about the tile on the edge of the cabinets and the backsplash.  Just not really our colors. I also don't really like the drawer pulls or the knobs, but that's minor.  About a year ago, the formica above the dishwasher and the corner of the cabinet above started popping lose.  The glue had lost it's stick.  We've looked at new countertops, and new cabinets--upper and lower cabinets.  We've priced it all and we've discussed changing the layout.  We just haven't made the commitment to actually take the leap and DO the remodeling or spend the money!
 Right after Christmas, we found some formica on sale at Menards.  We picked out a pattern we liked and bought it and brought it home.  We also bought some tile for the backsplash and some wood for the front edges of the cabinets.  Total spent?  Right around $100--give or take $25.  We figured that when we finally can do the entire kitchen remodel, we can "afford" to waste $100.  AND, honestly, it will be 3-5 years before I see us doing the entire kitchen, so we'll get our money's worth.

We'd recently been to a home show where a rustic bath and kitchen remodeler had a display.  One of the ways he finished cabinet edges was to put wood trim up and distress it, even distressing the formica at the edge of the cabinet.  Both Kev and I really liked the look, so we decided to attempt it ourselves.

Before starting, we discussed what we were going to do with our bar.  (pictured above.)  The counter is deeper than standard countertops.  It's 36" across.  It's a little low for us, and it tends to become a collector of junk.  Since our stock formica didn't come in 36" width,  (and we didn't want to special order it)  we brainstormed for ideas.  Kev's come up with an idea to make a higher shelf on the back side.  We'll piece in the formica on that side, which will be covered and not readily visible. It will hide some of the junk that shows up, and will be higher, which we'd both enjoy. I'm still a wee bit skeptical, but he's pulled off other ideas, so I will just have faith in him!

And, so on Saturday, Kev was restless, and decided to just tear into the kitchen.

We tore off the bar formica first.  Let me tell you, formica is sharp.  I have quite a few cuts on my hands!  We discovered that using my iron loosened up the glue which made it faster and easier to rip the formica off the countertop.  (Didn't do a lot for my iron, it's all scratched now!)  Then Kev cut the formica, and started building his shelf.  He did all the cutting, and I brushed on the contact cement.

Now, I've never done formica myself before. I've just watched some guys at work put in a new counter top on my circulation desk years ago.  I knew they used a lot of shims as they were fitting the formica, because they told me, once those two pieces touched, they were stuck.  There's no repositioning of the formica.  When it's down, it's down.

I asked Kev what he was going to use for shims.  Nothing.  I asked if he's done formica work before.  He say's he has. I suggested we get come cardboard for shims, and he finally did, but we had 3 pieces only and well, long story short, we ruined our formica.  Yep, it stuck where we didn't want to, and we tore the heck out of it trying to get it un-stuck!

So Kev said a few not-so-nice words and had a little temper-tantrum and we moved on to the two smaller counter tops.
They went down easy peasy.  He applied the trim, and I put up the tile backsplash.  (It's a wood grain 6" x 24" tile. Like floor tiles made to look like wood. Very rustic looking and probably very unique.)   In the photo above, he's distressing the wood trim.  I've stained the trim on the end he's not working with.  It looks nice.'s so much darker that we've decided we will need to strip and stain all the cabinets.  Which might be another issue, because the side panels of the cabinets, and the front of the bar is 1/8" cheap plastic looking wood veneer.  I'm going to try to sand and stain it, but if it won't take the stain, we'll move on to plan B.  The upper cabinets should take the stain.  SHOULD...  Who knows, we might have to replace everything before we're finished.

Miss Kat and I are going to Wichita this coming weekend to get a bridesmaid dress for her, so I'll stop by and pick up another piece of Jamocha Granite Laminate for the bar. We need to do it and the long counter top where the sink is. (the first photo.)  I already know I will need to paint again.  I like the green--even if it is much brighter than I'd planned.  It's not really the neon that it looks above!  New paint color will probably be in the yellow/tan scheme.  I also joked with Kev that the countertops would look much nicer with black appliances instead of the white.  But we are NOT switching them out just for cosmetic purposes!

Really, replacing the countertops moved quickly--we'd probably have gotten most of it done if we hadn't ruined that ONE piece. and learn!  We'll get it.  We always do!  And it will look nice.  Promise.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The 2013 Reading list

 It's January 27, and I hadn't yet published my annual "What I read in 2013" list!

Looking through the list, I saw that I read several series this year.  Some I liked, some I didn't.  Some I finished, some I didn't.  A couple I gave up on and read the synopsis on Wikipedia.  Why waste my time reading a series if it just didn't keep my interest?  I discovered Susanna Kearsley this year.  I really enjoyed reading her books set in Cornwall, or in the wilds of England.  There's a touch of the supernatural in all her books, but they aren't creepy or scary.  Just a little mysticism.  Very well done.  I'm looking forward to more books by her.  I don't know why I'd never read Ken Follett's books.  With my love of history and BIG books, I should have found them years ago. I know he's fairly prolific, and I know he has a couple newer titles, but I really enjoyed Pillars of the Earth  and World without End.  I decided to read them after watching the mini-series of World without End.  I enjoyed the mini-series, but as usual, the book was MUCH better!

TV also led me to Call the Midwife and two sequels.  I'd watched the PBS series and had to read the books.  The PBS series follows the books very well.  A couple of Non-fiction stand outs were The Omnivores Dilemma and Salt, Sugar and Fat: How the food giants hooked us.  Both made me angry about how big business controls our diets and how our food is produced.  Both reinforced my decision to heavily limit processed foods and to produce as much of our food as we can.  It all boils down to money folks.

The last book of the year, A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous will stick with me for a while.  I've read WWII memoirs, but this one really stands out. It's actually a diary written by a woman who was a German journalist who wrote of the events during April-June 1945, the end of the War and the invasion of Berlin by the Russian soldiers.  It's the first memoir I've read where the author admits to being raped.  Most say "my neighbor, my friend, a girl in the neighborhood, I know some were" raped, but the authors always assert "it didn't happen to me."  But, it's about more than Rape.  It's about surviving in a world where there isn't enough to eat, there isn't any electricity of utilities and you are on the losing end of the stick.  It's about how soldiers treat the native population.  It was very thought provoking.  Yes, it will stick with me a long time.

Finally, at the end of the year, after reading A Woman..., I needed a little escapism.  So, using one of my ereader accounts from the Library, I decided to re-read the entire "In Death" series by JD Robb.  There's 30-some titles in the series, and I'm enjoying reading and reliving the continuing story of Eve and Roarke.  Since they are all ebooks, I'm reading most at the gym while I'm on the elliptical.  It makes the time go fast and is a nice distraction.  It's fun!

So, without further ado, here is the complete list (remember, the "e" signifies those I've read as ebooks):

  Hot Ice Nora Roberts
Don’t Know much about the American Presidents Kenneth C. Davis
Midnight Awakening Lara Adrian
e The Wedding Shroud Elisabeth Storrs
e The Winter Sea Susanna Kearsley
Notorious Nineteen Janet Evanovich
e Bountiful Creek Steven B. Weissman
Midnight Rising Lara Adrian
Veil of Midnight Lara Adrian
Ashes of Midnight Lara Adrian
Shades of Midnight Lara Adrian
Taken by Midnight Lara Adrian
Deeper than Midnight Lara Adrian
Darker after Midnight Lara Adrian
A taste of Midnight Lara Adrian
e The Rose Garden Susanna Kearsley
e Edge of Dawn Lara Adrian
Calculated in Death J D Robb
Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett
e World without End Ken Follett
Beyond the Sling Mayim Bialik
Those who save us Jenna Blum
The Goddess Inheritance Aimee Carter
e  Night Drake Lara Adrian
e The Apothecary's Daughter Julie Klassen
e Elisie Barbara Waite
Allegiance Sworn Kylie Griffin
Origin Jessica Khoury
Dark Triumph Robin LaFevers
e Blackout Connie Willis
e All Clear Connie Willis
e Call the Midwife Jennifer Worth
Whiskey Beach Nora Roberts
e Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End Jennifer Worth
e Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse Jennifer Worth
The Ashford Affair Lauren Willig
e Dead Ever After Charlaine Harris
e Somewhere in Time Barbara Bretton
Silent Truth Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
The Business of Baby
e Mariana Susanna Kearsley
e The Firebird Susanna Kearsley
e The Boleyn King Laura Andersen
e The Seamstress: A memoir of Survival Sara Tuvel Bernstein
e The Shadowy Horses Susanna Kearsley
e The Garden Cottage Diaries Fiona J Houston
e The Midnight Breed Series Companion Lara Adrian
e The Preacher's Bride Jody Hedlund
e The Remnant: Jewish resistance in WWII Othniel Selden
e The Long Lonely Road TJ Reeder
The House Girl Tara Conklin
The Dust Bowl: an Illustrated history Dayton Duncan & Ken Burns
Omnivore's Dilemma Michael Pollan
Shirley Jones: A memoir Shirley Jones
Sarah's Key Tatiana De Rosnay
The False Prince jennifer Nielsen
Twice Tempted Jeaniene Frost
Orphan train Christina Baker Kline
Rise Andrea Cremer
Thankless in Death JD Robb
e White Lions Lady Lara Adrian
e Black Lions Bride Lara Adrian
Lady of Valor Lara Adrian
e Through a Dark Mist Mars Canham
e For I have sinned Darynda Jones
Time Traveler's guide to Elizabethan England Ian Mortimer
Bone Season Samantha Shannon
e House of Hades Rick Riordan
Notorious Royal Marriages Leslie Carroll
Mirror Mirror J D Robb, et al.
The Assassination of the Archduke Greg King & Sue Woolmans
Queens Consort Lisa Hilton
e After Dead Charlaine Harris
e Boleyn Deceit Laura Andersen
Emerald Green Kerstin Gier
Dark Witch Nora Roberts
Dragonwriter: a tribute to Anne McCaffrey & Pern Todd McCaffrey
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
The Given Sacrifice SM Stirling
Teardrop Lauren Kate
Salt Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us Michael Moss
Takedown Twenty Janet Evanovich
A Woman in Berlin: 8 weeks in the conquered City Anonymous
The Royal Ranger John Flanagan
Naked in Death
Glory in Death
Immortal in Death
Rapture in Death
Ceremony in Death
Vengeance in Death
Holiday in Death 
Conspiracy in Death