Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Date

I don't recall the last time hubby and I went on a date. It has been months. I think Nathan would say we have a date every day with all the house remodeling we do. But today we are going to the movies. WOOHOO! We are off to go see Harry Potter. Nathan said maybe even ice-cream after?!

Honestly with the house remodeling we do spend more time together but that is time spent working so no "us" time happens. Or we are working on different projects in different locations. Besides the last time I tried to have a conversation with Nathan while working on a house project he was using a power tool and couldn't hear me anyway. That was not intentional of course.

We are also thrifty. Well I like to think of us as thrifty anyway. The house is a priority so going out on a date once a week just doesn't seem right when that money can be put towards hardware, a new toilet fill valve, a gallon of paint, moulding, etc. I think you see what I mean. That and you can cook something a lot healthier at home than eating all that extra fat out. I need to keep Nathan's tummy happy because my crankiness won't.

So when was your last date with your spouse or significant other?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nathan's Home

Nathan has been home for two days and I admit that I am a slave driver, LOL!! With the two days he has been home he has spent more time with granite than I think he would like to admit to.

Granite was cut yesterday in preparation for installing it today. That didn't work out as well as we liked. When we got ready to install it today we realized there were some problems. So he had to recut pieces today.

While he was cutting today he realized that the diamond blade was dull. I was happy we had bought a new one a little while ago. He replaced it.

It took us about 5.5 hours to get all the granite installed today and that includes the granite for the fireplace.

We ended the day with a trip to Home Depot. Suprise! On our way home we stopped off at Red's for their dozen donut special. YUMM!! Yes, I know I am horrible with the baked goods. This would make twice within a week I spent money at a bakery. But they are good!

Tomorrow's adventure will be grout and maybe another trip to Home Depot.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day Of Repairs

The front door handle was having problems over 2 months ago. I took the handle apart and realigned the turning mechanism. Honestly I am not sure what the part is called. It was a little black stick that was inside the half of the door handle that is in the house. That seemed to work for a couple of weeks but I think the other half of the door handle lock also got out of alignment.

Today was my day out to run errands while Nathan is gone this week. I got up early this morning to make sure I had time to get errands done before my hair cut appointment.

First to Target then over to OSH. I picked up a replacement door handle that was the same style as the current one. I then went to the plumbing section to pick up a Fluidmaster 400A Fill Valve (more about this later).

After my hair cut I got home and replaced the front door handle. All that was required was a screwdriver but I ended up using a screwdriver, small allen wrench (from the initially purchased handle), my house key, and then all the following included in the new door handle package; large allen wrench, screws, Kwikset lock changing tool, keys and the directions.

I got the old door handle parts out and then put in the new handle. I then re-keyed the new door handle lock and re-keyed the old door handle lock. Done! It was about 30 minutes. I did save some parts from the old door handle.

Next to tackle on the list was the toilet fill valve. The background on this really quickly. The flapper valve was replaced when we moved in, as we thought this was the problem with the tank not filling properly. The flapper valve we purchased was not the right one for the model toilet. Since the new master bathroom was complete we slowly just stopped using the broken toilet. I finally bought the correct flapper valve but when I put that on yesterday that didn't fix the problem.

Last night I spent some time doing research online and made a call to dad. It seemed from the research that the recommendation was to replace the fill valve. Hence the purchase at OSH.

I took the box and the recommended tools from the Youtube video I watched last night. I read the directions for the replacement and proceeded to work.

Amazingly I didn't crack the toilet. I was able to follow all the steps in the directions and the tank actually filled. I was so excited! The toilet works!

I replaced the flapper valve with the new flapper valve. It was taking holding the handle down for a few seconds for the toilet to flush. I thought shoot! I went through all of that and now we have to hold the handle down for a couple of seconds. I put the cabinet we placed over the toilet back and was starting to fill it when I thought I would do another quick look online and see what I could find on this new problem. Apparently I need to adjust the float on the flapper valve chain to help with this. It took me longer to fix this than to install the new fill valve!

The float on the chain need to be adjusted up. I figured that out and checked the flush. All seemed quite well. The cabinet is now back over the toilet. The stuff that belongs in the cabinet is not longer in a pile on the floor in the bathroom. Life is good!

My treat to myself for those fixes; the bakery! Sad I know!

The tools that I actually used were a screwdriver, piece of cardboard, rags, bucket, Nathan's wrench (not mine), tape measure, scissors, and from the fill valve box; fill valve, washer, clip, house, and directions.

Here is the new working system:

Here is the old fill valve:

Monday, December 13, 2010


This last week I have spent some time on the phone with Home Depot in town and yesterday morning to the store in Salinas. The associate in the flooring department at the HD in town had been very helpful; she understood what I was looking for, did the research for me, asked me some questions and then let me know that she was waiting for someone to help her retrieve the items. She told me she would get back to me.

The granite is what we have been looking for. It is a granite you can install yourself. The same granite we used to build the counter in the new master bathroom.

We had been to both the Home Depot in town and in Salinas and couldn't find our color sitting out on shelf visible. That was until I made the phone calls.

Yesterday we were VICTORIUS! I met the associate who was taking my calls in town and was able to help her, get help. By a customer waiting for an item she was able to get the forklift so we could look through the 3 pallets they had. We were able to purchase the 6 boxes in the color that we wanted to install in the kitchen. Life is good! I think Nathan thought I lost it. I was so excited. My fear was that they weren't going to have it at all.

Yesterday was also our Thanksgiving. It was wonderful! We went to KFC on Thanksgiving day because the house was a mess from the kitchen demolition. So I made a meal yesterday. Mind you this is after we went to the Commissary on Friday. It had been two months since the last time we went to the commissary. Scary, huh! I have been picking up the necessities at a cooking supply warehouse - something sort of similar to Costco only for bakers.

We did have a little trouble yesterday when I got ready to put the turkey in the oven. The oven didn't start. I was a little confused. The burners work but the oven didn't light. I went to track down Nathan for help. He thought that the pilot light in the oven was out but when he looked there is no pilot light really. Anyway I ended up opening the oven "control panel" to find a disconnected wire. Hubby bent the wire back in place and I reconnected and done.

I started supper 45 minutes later than I wanted but it worked out okay; we had dinner only 15 minutes later than planned. It was very yummy and I had a very happy husband who knows that when he gets back at the end of the week there will be turkey dumplings waiting for him. VICTORIOUS!!

Hubby did start the wood burning oven in case the oven didn't work at all. Instead of letting the fire die down I made ciabatta dough. After the third time trying we have finally perfected the ciabatta roll. Have I said lately VICTORIOUS!

It was a good end to the weekend after a hectic week. But when is it not hectic when you are house remodeling?!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

November House Projects 2010

Layed down interlocking tile on the back patio.

We finally situated/built an appropriate area to place the fire pit. We used some of the left over firebrick from the pizza oven.
Cement walkways were poured and built on the right and left side of the house. We used the leftover tile from the Master Bathroom shower to give one of the the walkways a little bit of color.
Filled in one of the side yards with lava rock to give the other side yard some color.
Finished filling in the back yard, one of the side yards and the front yard with wood chip.

Rose bush and Aloe Plants flowering.

Before After
Before After

Garage Cabinets
Sanded, Stained and polyurethaned cabinets to be hung up in the garage.
Hung up the cabinets.

Kitchen Remodel
This is our last big project. At least I hope it is anyway.
We tore down the wall between the living room and the kitchen.

Removed all the cabinets.

Removed all the old flooring and secured down cement board.

Patched up and replaced drywall.

Primed and painted.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Only When On A Mission

So this weekend was busy as are most weekends. We wanted to finish tiling the kitchen floor. So on Friday we started tiling. It didn't go too horribly. We ran out of thinset and stopped. So another trip to Home Depot on Saturday morning to pick up another bag of thinset and another box of tiles.

Saturday morning we get back from our trip, prepare the area and get ready to work. I start to lay tiles down and all seems okay. I get to the third rows of tiles and the tiles are off. Not quite lining up right. We try to adjust the tiles to compensate for the mistake. It isn't working. All of the rest of the tiles are off. I was pretty upset. Sat down threw a fit and cried. This is our third time tiling so we should be good at this by now. My mistake was laying the last two tiles on Friday and not "holding" them in place. I ended up finishing the tiles in an open area and not at an end of the row so there was no full support around the entire tile to keep it in place. The two last tiles I placed Friday night shifted a little which caused the problem. I know we tried adjusting but since we were just using 1/8 inch tile spacers there wasn't much room for adjustment.

Sunday I am still pretty upset but am ready to grout. It took a couple of hours to do this. It was a little longer than we expected. But when I finished the mess up from Friday night/Saturday wasn't as bad as it seemed. Or maybe I should say having the grout down didn't seem to enhance the appearance of the mistake.

Monday night on a mission after Nathan gets out of school to go purchase the last of the moulding so that I could stain and polyurethane. The goal by the end of the week is to reconnect all the appliances before Nathan leaves next week. When I went to measure the necessary width for the base moulding we needed something bigger than we had used in the rest of the house. The reason for this is do the numerous layers of linoleum flooring that we removed from the kitchen floor. All of that requires a little bit of an adjustment in the width of the moulding. So we go to Home Depot to look but we couldn't find anything bigger. We were also on a mission to try to finish the kitchen island. We need more granite. We try to look for this too. It took us almost an hour to try to find an available associate to help us try to locate the granite we had found before. Long story short they don't carry it in stock anymore so we would probably need to special order. Drive to Salinas to go to Home Depot in hopes they may have these things. Nope! They at least had the granite in stock just not the color we wanted. So our trip was completely unsuccessful and will probably also throw the rest of this week's plan out the window.

Got to love not being able to get things accomplished! My cure to that problem, stop off at Marie Calendar's and get a whole pie to go.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Papa Is Home!

As far as I know Papa Sullivan should be home! YAAAYY!! Papa Sullivan hasn't been home since June. Lots of in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation centers. He wasn't able to be home for Thanksgiving but is so happy that he will be home for Christmas. I am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing bad will happen to change that.

I am afraid that this will also mean a new way of living. The Lewy Body Dementia that Papa was diagnosed with back in February but then was re-diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. Medicine to help with the dementia and not being able to drive anymore means challenges. I know that my grandparents will make it through this. They have a great support system in Roslindale. Ms. Cossette their wonderful neighbor and very close friend has been there to help drive Nana shopping and to the hospital and rehabilitation centers. The Carson family has been in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation centers to see Papa and talk to the doctors. Aunt Maria has been there for doctors appointments, trips to the emergency room, visits to the rehabilitation centers and has pretty much been on call for Nana. Uncle Bobby was going to the rehabilitation centers after work and to doctors appointments. He has helped Nana keep busy to try to distract her from all the chaos. All of these wonderful people have been a saving grace for Nana. She tells me herself without all of these people she wouldn't be able to cope.

Just a quick recap Papa had knee surgery in June and then three weeks later had to go back in for the same procedure as the first surgery didn't work. He has been in recovery and rehabilitation since then.

Welcome Home Papa!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Just Another Day In The Life Of A Military Spouse

It is about 4:30PM on Wednesday evening. I am sitting here on my bed trying to get some work done. I have been somewhat successful in that task today. There is a wonderful aroma coming from the Master Bathroom. I know usually there isn't anything wonderful about the smell of a bathroom. But since my kitchen is in chaos, I am cooking supper in the crockpot, on the nice, long, bathroom sink counter. My first time making homemade mac & cheese and I am making it in the crockpot.

As I say that I can smell the bread which will be done in about 20 minutes. Yes, I have the bread machine on my bureau in our bedroom. Can't wait to have warm bread & butter with my mac & cheese.

The excitement was this morning though. I retrieve the morning dishes from the guest bedroom and make some oatmeal in the microwave. Toast some bread. The toaster is temporarily placed on top of the dishwasher in the kitchen. Mix some seasonings from the guest bedroom and master bedroom into the oatmeal; butter the toast and deliver to the master bedroom.

Oh I forgot to mention the dishwasher is in the kitchen corner and the refrig is temporarily in the living room.

I sit down and eat breakfast with hubby before he leaves for school.

Hubby leaves and I retrieve the crockpot and all the dry goods for the mac & cheese from the guest bedroom. Bring this out onto the little space I have left on what is my dining room table but is also now the home for the microwave. I measure all the dry ingredients and put them in the crockpot. Put all the dry ingredients back into the guest bedroom. Pull out all the wet ingredients from the refrig, measure and pour into the crockpot. Mix everything in the crockpot. Put all those items back into the refrig. I take the crockpot and plug it into my bathroom outlet. Turn on the crockpot and continue with the day.

I then proceed to grab all the dirty dishes. I head to the guest bathroom and empty out the NEX reusable shopping bag into the bathtub and proceed to wash the dishes in the bathtub. Dry and put away those dishes which are stored both in the master bedroom and guest bedroom.

Time for a second coat of paint on certain areas of the kitchen ceiling and wall.

Where is the polyurethane? I found it, out in the garage, on the floor by the hot water heater. Grab my painting brush from outside in the paint thinner. Bring everything into the kitchen and rinse out the painting brush. Open the polyurethane with my screwdriver and brush the corner molding pieces I stained yesterday.

Check the dryer as I forgot to finish the laundry I did yesterday. Load of laundry was left in the washing machine so now it needs to be dried.

Cleaning and straightening up is a constant battle when you are remodeling. Begin the routine of sweeping, dusting and reorganizing.

A break but not really. I need to catch up on e-mail for the day or really the last week. When you are house remodeling you only have time to get to e-mail you know that you can respond to very quickly. Other e-mails get put on the I will get to it later list.

Go grab the now dry laundry from the drier, fold and put away.

Lunch time. Grab a slice of bread from freezer and toast. Peanut butter and a can of soda are in guest bedroom and jelly from the refrig. Chips are in the master bedroom. Take it all outside on the back yard patio. No the soda was not warm. It has been dropping down into the 30's at night so the soda was cold. Okay yes it was sitting in the guest bedroom but since we are now only living in the master bedroom and bathroom the other areas of the house aren't being heated.

Dirty dishes are put into the guest bathroom and items are put away.

Another coat of paint is completed.

Get dressed to take Angel to the park. She is excited to go and I am excited to sit at the park in the sun to warm up. We didn't get too far before she just sat down. I guess she really wasn't that interested in the park today. We turn around and go back home.

Bring the bread pan from the bread machine into my little spot on the dining room table. Follow the same silly procedure I did when I prepared the crockpot. Put the pan in the bread machine, plug it in, select appropriate setting and start.

I am now finding time to get caught up on the e-mails that I put onto the get caught up later. I find that they are almost all for the business in regards to link exchange requests.

Supper was good. Warm bread straight from the bread machine is always wonderful :)

I know this is a major ramble but I did think my day was a little entertaining, when I sat down to think about it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

September and October 2010 Projects

Pizza Oven
The Pizza Oven has been a significant project over the last two months. Nathan posted all about the Pizza Oven so I will just let you read his story.

The rainy season starts here around October so before starting the kitchen remodel we thought that we would enjoy the nice September summer weather and start doing outside projects. We have been doing nothing but indoor projects so to get outside would be nice.

We were able to pick up a little over half a ton of small wood chips from the Monterey Regional Waste Management District Administration Office (really the scales office/department) and we saw these beautiful flower beds.

Finding a link with information to let you know pricing for picking up wood chip, bark and mulch was fruitless. Here is a link with information for the Administration Office: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/greenbuilding/CaseStudies/Public/Monterey.htm I also don't know what type of flower this is. Anyway it cost us a little of $20 for the load we picked up.

We worked on laying some stone in another section of the "lawn" for a walkway between the driveway and the entrance of the house. The stone was leftover from the pizza oven. The rocks that we picked out of the lawn are also being used as part of new landscaping.

The Deck
This was a three day project. It took longer than I would have liked to admit to. We built the frame of the deck with pressure treated lumber and the deck boards are Trex. I honestly have to say I am not sure about that stuff. I give it one thumb up and one thumb down. It looks beautiful but it scratches very easily.

Nathan's truck after picking up the first load of stuff for the deck.
After frame and joists were assembled.
Completed deck

Before After

I did lose some other photos for the month of September. They were various photos at different stages of the front lawn cleaning. Picking and removing all the rock, older grass/weeds. That all took lots of time. Probably wasn't anything too exciting to see but would have been nice to see the gradual change for us.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pizza Oven

After my first successful masonry project with the stucco fence I decided to take it to the next level. Who knew the next level was so far above my head. The concept is pretty simple. Create a Pompeii style pizza oven. After doing some research online we found out a pizza oven manufacturer was just a few miles away. Forno Bravo turned out to be our supplier and resource for pizza oven construction. We could have purchased a small oven for about 2500$ or a large for 8000$. Of course I decided to make my own large 36" pizza oven. We purchased the firebricks, insulation, and high heat mortar directly from them. To my surprise the pallet of materials weighed over a ton and my poor truck couldn't handle it. Luckily they were nice enough to split the pallet for me so we handled it in two trips.
A funny/scary moment happened when I was unloading a cardboard box of insulation. I took it off the truck and dropped it in the garage. To my surprise I felt a sharp pain in my arm. I had a nice gash in my right arm halfway between the elbow and wrist. I looked at the box I just dropped and noticed a razor blade sticking out. It was embedded halfway into the box and sliced my arm as the box slid out of my arms. I told the story and showed my battle wound to an employee during the second trip and told him his packing guys should be a bit more careful. I think I scared him, he gave me some extra fire bricks. Almost a month later I still have a scar.
Anyways, back to the pizza oven. We were lucky enough to have a huge slab of concrete out back so we didn't need to build up the base. We purchased 20 or so concrete blocks, some rebar, and 3 pieces of angle iron to build the platform the oven would sit on. We realized this was going to require a bit more support than we had expected, the finished pizza oven was going to be well over a ton when complete. We made the three-sided support with two small shelves on each side. Across the open front and in the middle we placed the 2" angle iron to bear the brunt of the weight. We put down some cement board and then poured a concrete floor with rebar.

All of this was taking far longer than we had expected. Next we put down the floor insulation and the floor bricks. Rikki spent several hours cutting the full bricks into half bricks and I started planning how to lay the bricks in a 36" dome and leave an opening. The first few rows were easy and I only tilted them in slightly so I did all three at once. After I placed the first three rows I noticed the mortar wasn't drying properly. I had used about 1/2 of the 80 lb bag of mortar when I noticed there was a bag inside the bag. This confused me until I realized the 80 lb bag consisted of 2 bags that needed to be mixed BEFORE use. Since I didn't mix it properly it never fully set. So Rikki once again helped me tear down my mess and clean all the bricks for a second try.

After a break I mixed the 2nd bag of mortar properly and laid the 3 rows of bricks again. The next day I did the fourth row, waited a few hours and did the fifth. At this point the bricks were at a steep slope and would fall in if I wasn't careful. As planned I switched to my mold: an exercise ball from Target. At this point Rikki was in Kansas prepping for Kelli's wedding so I had the whole weekend to work on the project by myself. Unfortunately it went extremely slowly since all I could do was build a row of bricks, wait several hours, deflate the ball, and then repeat.

The mold worked well, and the door/chimney came out about as expected. I used the rest of the mortar to smooth out my dome and hope it all held together. Next was the dome insulation, followed by some chicken wire to help the second type of insulation/stucco stick. I used 5 parts vermiculite to 1 part concrete. Vermiculite is a fine crushed stone that provides good insulation. As a final touch I ran a ring of concrete around the base to make sure the floor firebricks would never shift and hopefully provide some extra support to the dome.

That was all I could manage before I had to fly out to Kansas for the wedding so we took another break. After the wedding we started putting together the stone veneer over the concrete block and added the final coat of stucco to the dome. Two slabs of granite concrete on each side for shelves and Rikki's fine mortar work and the pizza oven was finally complete.
This was by far our most difficult project yet. Next time we do something like this I will actually be prepared.