Thursday, June 26, 2014

Free Manicures!


It's not done, but all the functional pieces are in. (Um, except the refrigerator. I guess my standards for functional have gotten pretty low...)


Here's what we did! (And yes, this really does have to do with manicures. Read on, friends.)

We did the countertop install ourselves, so we ordered all this gorgeous butcher block. Most pieces could just go right in or only needed one end trimmed down, and the installation was pretty painless. Butcher block needs to be able to expand and contract or it will crack, so it's held down with just a couple of floating screws in each piece. 

The largest, three-million-pound piece, of course, needed the most work. We were pretty nervous about cutting the hole for the sink. Our style of sink sits underneath the counter, so there's no lip to hide any imperfections in the cut. It had to be perfect on the first try. So we did the smart thing, and went crying for help.

We worked with the fabulous and amazing John Steiner who helped us make a template, cut it out with a jigsaw, and then finish it with a router. Then we took it home, plopped it in place (where it fit - hooray!) and I sanded the heck out of it to make it smooth and lovely. Then we sealed the cut edge with many coats of polyurethane.

 After weeks of worrying about this cut, it felt like we were finally done. Except for the fact that the sink didn't actually, y'know, work. Apparently you also have to install a faucet and hook up to a water source. Who knew?

So then we had to drill a hole for the faucet. This was still pretty nerve-wracking, but straightforward enough that we knew we could do it ourselves. We bought a special drill bit and tested it out on an off-cut so there weren't any surprises. And it worked perfectly! Victory is sweet. Then I finished off the hole with more sanding and polyurethane.

Then the plumber came - the awesome and super-reliable Wes from Kitsap Peninsula Plumbing - and hooked it all up. 

Once the plumbing was installed, Brett used silicone caulk to seal the edges around the sink and the joints in the counter top.


Here's where the free mani bit comes in.

The wood had been through a lot - shipping, moving back and forth to a shop, cutting, sitting around on our floor for a week - so it was getting dry. I moisturized the heck out of it. First I used John Boos Mystery Oil, which I suspect is just overpriced mineral oil. I let that sit for five minutes, then wiped off the excess. Then I coated the counter again in Board Cream, which is an oil and wax blend. I worked that in with my hands, then left it overnight.

Unexpected bonus: my hands were ridiculously soft. Nothing like massaging oil and wax into them for half an hour! I'll need to moisturize the counters again periodically, so I'm going to think of it as a home spa experience instead of a chore.

Double bonus: this really warmed up and deepened the color of the counters, so they are even sexier than before.

There are still lots of cosmetic projects to do, but we can cook again!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prepare to be Amazed!

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Step right up and view one of the great wonders of the world. Right this way, part the double doors (now in glossy red instead of dirty green)...

walk into the kitchen, and behold...


Running water!

What you see before you is, in fact, the elusive working kitchen sink and dishwasher!

I'll go into more detail about the process later, but right now I just want to go celebrate! And by "celebrate," I mean "wash two weeks' worth of accumulated dishes."

Hermione also likes to be elusive.

Monday, June 23, 2014


This was one of the first projects I did for the house - well before we even moved in. They've been sitting in the closet for weeks, so I was thrilled to finally put them up!

First, I ordered some vintage milk jugs on ebay. I got a matched set of 2. They were from the same company, Parmlee Bros, although the actual bottles are about 15 years apart in age.

I then spent the next god knows how many hours of my life trying to find a shade holder. (Task #1 - figuring out that the metal thing that holds up a glass shade is called a "shade holder.") I finally settled on a style and ordered a few - only to find that, surprise surprise, they weren't really made to fit on milk bottles.

Then a minor miracle happened.

Just when I was despairing of ever finding an unusually deep shade holder, I met a contractor at the house for a totally different reason. On her way out, she casually pointed to the grandma's-special old chandelier in our dining room and said "I bet that would be really pretty if you popped in some different glass shades. Those holders are a standard size."

I looked up and lo, there were indeed four vintage shade holders.  And there was much rejoicing.

I cannibalized those pieces, which turned out to be an absolutely perfect fit for my bottles. Huzzah!

Then I just needed a few bits and bobs - cheap sockets and canopies from the hardware store, and I splurged on some sexy vintage style cloth covered twisted cord.


It only took a few minutes to wire them up - and then I waited several weeks for the electrician to install a circuit for them and for us to pass electrical inspection. Then Brett graciously took on the working-over-his-head parts by hanging them.

Here's a close up, so you can admire our lovely handiwork:

I love filling our home with handmade, homemade,things - we're building the memories right in! I'd love it if everything in our house had some kind of emotion tied to it; something that reminds us of a person or a memory or a moment in history. I'm getting there, one project at a time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

If 2 tsp is 2/3 Tbsp, What's 2/3 of a Kitchen?

Our kitchen is .... drumroll please ... 2/3 done!

Okay, no drumroll. That's not really a particularly impressive accomplishment. But when you'e washing your dishes in the bathroom sink, you celebrate where you can.

That said, the things we got done this weekend do really transform the space. I can actually see what our finished kitchen is going to look like. All the lights turn on, and there are no holes in the ceiling. I can actually cook on the stove AND put something down on the counter next to me. It looks like an unfinished kitchen, instead of an unfinished disaster zone.

First, we started installing our countertops! We got these gorgeous Boos Block butcher block slabs from the creatively named Butcher Block Co. Our original plan had been cheap Ikea or Lumber Liquidators counters, which we would stain and/or refinish. However, we have this very long, wide peninsula and couldn't find a piece big enough at either of those two spots. I've seen some bloggers splice together a couple of pieces, but we weren't sure we could pull that off.

We did some poking around, and discovered to our surprise that Boos Block was actually one of the most affordable options for finished pieces in our weird sizes. (Perfect Plank Co had the very best prices, but they ship unfinished, and we were worried that would not mesh well with our damp climate.)

So we fixed down 3 of the 4 pieces. They are so lovely!!! And actually pretty easy to install. We cut them to size on our borrowed portable table saw. Because wood needs to expand and contract, they actually only have a couple screws in the back holding each piece in place. Thankfully, butcher block weighs precisely a kajillionty pounds, so they're not going anywhere.

What we haven't done is put in the huge, 100+ lbs slab that needs the sink cutout. We got this gorgeous undermount farm sink off Craigslist (bless you, Craigslist!) - which means that cut has to be PERFECT. Now, I'm great at smashing stuff, and Brett is awesome at banging things together, but neither of us are particularly confident in our get-it-absolutely-perfect-the-very-first-time skillz.


 Thankfully we found a fabulous local guy to bail us out, and he's going to help us cut the sink hole this weekend. We'll caulk the heck out of everything, and then we will have ALL THE COUNTERTOPS!

We also installed the pendant lights I made. I'll write a separate post about those.

Now please excuse me while I get a snack out of the refrigerator in the mudroom, and then wash my plate in the bathroom.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Live Here, More or Less

After a weekend of hard work, we're making our house feel like a home, slowly but surely slowly.

The vast majority of the painting is now done, and while I love painting, I am never painting the ceiling ever. again. Thankfully, it looks awesome - the space just feels so much more expansive in a light, bright color. And we are blessed with awesomely high ceilings, so it's fantastic. I can't wait to get started putting in the trim!

Finishing the painting also meant we could hang the light fixture in the dining room (which was a $30 score from the local thrift shop - take that, Pottery Barn). We even got to put the switch plate covers back on.Which basically means we now have exactly one space in the house that looks more or less finished, and I will murder anyone who dares to put junk or tools there.

I'm not messing around here.

We also got out a lot of the trash and the boxes this weekend, so now we can actually walk around (at least, in most of the rooms.) And I no longer feel like a horrible neighbor for junking up the porch with boxes and donations and lord knows what. Hooray!

The bigger issue of the weekend wasn't the house, but Hermione herself. If you have a lot of experience with adolescent dogs, please share your advice! I thought she was doing really well with the move. I know it's very disruptive, despite the efforts we made to get her used to the space before we moved in. She's also at a sensitive age - 6 months. But she's been her normal, happy-go-lucky self, and she's already found the spots she likes best in the house and yard to sit, eat treats, and disembowel her toys. Well - until this weekend.

But I'm so sweet and innocent!

Hermie has rarely barked in her life, and when she does, it's usually in play. Since the move, we are now near a busier street, so many more cars and pedestrians go by, and she's started to bark at some of them. That doesn't seem aggressive - more like she wants to go play with them. Also, several of our neighbors have barking dogs, and she barks back at them when they get going. So maybe she's learning to bark from them, or maybe she's just finding her voice as she gets older. It's a little annoying, but not really worrisome.

So this weekend we took her with us when we went out for a quick breakfast. (We're currently doing all our dishes in the bathroom sink, so eating out is really appealing.) We sat outside in a busy but not crowded eating area, with pedestrians and several dogs. She was doing fine, exploring and attention-mongering, until a woman walked by with a black poodle. Neither the owner nor the dog approached us, or even paid any attention to us - no reason for Miss H to feel threatened.

HOWEVER. She suddenly started barking her head off, aggressively. She was loud, insistent, and even tried to lunge at this dog. (We always keep her on leash, so there was no actual danger.) We couldn't get her to stop - she totally ignored all her normal commands. Ultimately I just picked her up so the other dog and owner would feel safe, and held onto her until she calmed down.

She relaxed, and didn't bark at the other dogs that walked by or that were sitting nearby. Then, about five or ten minutes later, the same dog walked by again. Again, Hermione started barking very aggressively and wouldn't stop, despite the fact that this dog was not very near us or even looking our way. At that point we just left to get her out of the situation.

Now I'm nervous to take her out in public, since I'm not sure what triggered her or if this would happen again. I know she needs to keep socializing, and that this is a difficult age and a rough transition for her, but eek! What to do?

I'll probably be calling a dog trainer for a private session...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Moms Rock!

What. A. Week.

It feels appropriate that today is D-Day, because we've spent the last week storming the beaches of our new house. Yes, it was moving week, otherwise known as "my personal definition of hell."

First, unlike any move we've done before, we had to get several large projects done before we could move in. First, floor had to be sealed and have time to dry (and YES it is DONE!) Super exciting, but it meant that we had to wait several precious days before we could actually move stuff in.

Beautiful, beautiful floors!

Then the ick had to be literally chiseled - yes, chiseled - off the kitchen cabinets, and we wanted to get as much painting done as possible before we had to work around furniture.

Lots of cabinets - yay! Lots of cabinet doors to paint - boo!

And then, in the midst of all that of that, we had to, y'know, actually pack and move all our stuff. No big.

*stuffs face in a pillow and screams*

Did I mention that I really, really hate clutter?

I took the entire week off of work, but basically this would have been a complete disaster if my mom hadn't come to visit. My husband works like a horse, but he could only be around evenings and weekends. My mom basically scrubbed our house top to bottom, and then proceeded to do the same thing for our rental, while also making sure that we didn't starve and the dog didn't destroy the house. She also set up our kitchen, which is now the only organized spot in the entire house. We would never have gotten this done without her! Thanks, mom!!

At least we finally got the stove out of the mudroom, and actually hooked it up! We have a functional kitchen appliance! Now we just need a sink, countertops, a dishwasher, and a fridge...

I never knew an appliance could be so beautiful... *sniff*

This week will be mostly unpacking, but hopefully we'll get through that and have some exciting updates about our projects. We're doing some really nifty stuff to the walls, and the kitchen should come together pretty quickly once the countertops arrive.

Back to unpacking!