I am still doing this

Well for those who I have met through this concept of renovations, I have one thing to ask/say; How do you possibly do all the work and still have time to blog about it.  Wow… I am so impress with you all!

So here’s my current deal: I am working on the  kitchen while we also prepare the floors for refinishing.  We are basically camping at the house due to the fact that we are not moving in until the floors are completed.  That means an air mattress, and a hot plate and limited clothing and all the other useful things you have in your own home….like drawers and hangers, and something other than lawn chairs to cozy up on after a huge day of work.

To make a long story short about the kitchen: this is our semi redo, with major work to be done later down the road.  We plan to move all the appliances and the outside door at some point in time.  But for now I am changing it enough to satisfy our need to make it our own.

I stripped the floors down to the wood.  Maple covered with a black tar-like substance that I think has asbestos in it.  Anyway I will be covering that this time around, and next time they will be restored to the maple. I had to remove two layer of floor coverings, some people have found much worse.  One woman I know found tile and linoleum, three layers of it on top of carpet…..that is just too gross for me to think about.

For now we are going to tile with Armstrong peel and stick black and white vinyl tiles.  Apartment Therapy followers will recognize the strip pattern, I think this will work well in the space and I also think it’s cute and fresh.  One thing you all should know – you can only get this tile from Menards on-line.  I used to be able to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and get it any day of the week.

click to enlarge

We are replacing the tiny counter with a wood, and keeping the original cupboards be leaving the top doors off. Our appliances are black, and rather large.  Everything will just fit, but I have to solve the problem of no work area, prep area.  We are thinking of making/buying a piece that would extend out from the wall between the outside door and the doorway to the small room off the kitchen where the frig will be.  I will let you see what we come up with once we are finished.

I have been working for the last year and a half to become somewhat of a minimalist.  The open cabinets will help to keep me in check, because I cant hide clutter this way, everything will be in the open. We will have a pantry, (the old coat closet) and I plan to have that super organized.  I can dream, can’t I?

click to enlarge

Forgot to mention, the back splash was a crooked nightmare without any grout. This is a small area and I am planning on subway tiles.  Simple and somewhat predicable, but I like the era of the tiles and I believe they will be perfect for  this 1923  house.

There’s one wall I don’t have a photo of (atm) and it has a two double hung windows next to each other.  The wood work will remain white, and currently I am thinking of a red-orange accent wall to make the window pop.  This may change at any moment – as with a black and white kitchen your options are endless. My inspiration, a lily, had wilted in the process of matching….but it’s close.

I have a few photo additions to my garden as well check it out if you like….. Cheers!


Demo in the basement – small room, dog room

The basement is scary.  I have seen worse, but this is pretty raw I’d say.

The goal here is to take everything out, and basically paint it white, and design a dog room, and a workout area, and a gaming area/movie watching area. I have developed a bad habit of not taking before photos.  I did it again today.

Here is the demo, the maybe dog room.

I needed a saw for these shelves. So I’ll have to tackle this later – maybe tomorrow.

I thought the wood behind the cabinets was kind of pretty.  Only one wall is like this so we’ll see.

Front garden in process

I have to give what is there a chance to grow to see exactly what I have.  I hope to sculpt the bed soon and add plants and flowers, and reshape the old fashioned shurb roses after I see how the grow.  They were way overgrown and very weak.  Now is the time to bring them back to life.

So this is really the “before”, that provides me the canvas fro the real “after.”

Have the keys

I have the keys, but they still have not transferred the title.  I could do their jobs with my eyes closed.  I think the real estate industry as we know is going to a painful death, once it gets completely automated. It’s already starting for the foreclosure homes, because the volume is so high, transactions are being done on line.

But enough of that, now that I have the keys I am looking at time management. As my first project.  With all my excitement, I forgot about how much time everything takes.

To get you up to speed, not only do the floors have to be refinished before move in but I have to unload a 10 x 20 storage unit, and a another garage full of our belonging from the last house.  Most my old stuff is way too big for the new house.  Plus finding exactly what you need, or want to keep, might take a half hour or more.  Oh man, I wasn’t thinking about this part.

Take a breath.

Tomorrow I meet the water department at the house because this house was winterized.  The grossest thing is someone pooped in a none working toilet.  It’s so gross , that sentence was hard for me to type.

I will be heading over with cleaning supplies, and tools, so I can remove staples from the wood floor while I wait for water.  But then it will be my tasks to clean that toilet. Renovation is so glamorous.

Update to today: The title transferred, now I can put some flowers on the front porch….lol.  But in reality, I am learning about fixing a water line.  The water man showed up bright and early…..and turned on the water only to find we have a leak.  They say this is common when a house is winterized, because the people doing the weatherization don’t really get all the water out.  Then it freezes and bursts the pipes anyway.  Which is exactly what they are trying to avoid.

So I have already been to Lowes, second day in a row…the will reconize me by the end of the week for sure.  And this is what I bought.

This is called the “fat boy” blow torch.  I really wanted a thinner canister, but this came with the instant on switch.  I didn’t want to mess with lighting the flame with a match. In any case this was my first time using a blow torch and  I did pretty good.  I soldered three of the four junctions without a problem, the forth one my husband fixed for me.

The Water Department guy taught me how to read the meter, and told me how to recognized any leaks in the line. There is a small football shaped thing on the dial, if  it is spinning at all, there is water running or a leak somewhere in the lines.   After the weld.  No movement.  Success.

Except the fact that the some of the pipes are not longer connect to anything…..like to the sink in the upstairs bathroom or the outside spigot in the back yard.

Here s the finished product, messy soldering, but it worked – horrible photo – my apologies.  Cheers!

Oh! One thing I forgot to mention in my haste to get all this progress up on my site: when buying tools, buy big!!!  Here is the first blow torch “kit” I bought: This little boy could not reach the needed temperature for the job.  My husband found some good news inside the directions,  it said it was perfect for making crème brûlée.  So I’ll will be looking forward to that tasty treat, some day in the distant future.  Cheers!

more garden planning

Okay the weather just took an about face and my little seedlings had to make their way into the house. It is only 42 degrees and it’s very windy so it feels like a winter day.  Add to that the gloomy shade of grey that the heavens are sporting and all of a sudden I am thinking , “Why did I buy a house here?!”

But-really it’s beautiful here. We are only a stones throw for the 11th largest fresh water lake on the planet, Lake Erie.  I read somewhere “they” were just awarded a federal grant to make the lake even fresher. That’s a good thing.  The leaves are starting bud out on gigantic oak trees as old as 200 years that tower over many of the neighborhoods. We have seasons so we really have learned to appreciate the nice days.

Here’s the space I am working on now:

I am itching to garden and garden now… here is my latest plan for behind the garage. note: Will need to make a screen to hide view of neighbor’s “stuff.”

Below is a blurry photo of the palettes I picked up for free.  I found them on Craig’s list.  I got two for my vegetable garden and one I am going to make a new low dolly for my really heavy potted plants. ( sorry for the blur, it’s just too cold to retake atm.)

Anyway two of these palettes together will make the bed towards the top of my sketched plan (above) and for the bottom bed I am going with the half double decker raised bed pictured at the bottom the  post from the other day.

With any luck, this is what I hope the top palette beds will ends up looking like.  It will be twice as wide. Ten growing rows total.

This season the garden will be a testing ground, and I imagine the next year it will be larger and even more productive.  So that’s where I am…..still dreaming and moving forward.  I cant wait to get some sun, and those day-after sore muscles from working the soil.


I am hot…..on gardening

I suppose it is only natural to want to do the fun stuff first.  I mean when I garden it’s like a zen experience.  I just lose track of time, and my mind is clearly focused on each clump of soil, and every tender plant.  Believe it or not my seedlings are starting to sprout already….like in two days.  I am so excited to see these little babies wake up.

The other day I went to a community garden in Bay Village to look at the various set-ups that people used for the plots.

Here are the photos that each taught me something:

I decided I like the plots best where the wood had weathered to a soft grey.  I have sent the community garden organizers an email asking what type of wood that is and where to buy it.

This one I like because of the mulch around the outside of the frame.  I think it makes it look neat and it controls any weeds that may want to visit your produce.

Many people do a thing called gardening by the foot.   I am not planning on doing this , but I will give it more research.  In the photo below you can see that the gardener, sunk the strings, by making a 1/4 inch slice into the side of the frame.  Perhaps this protect it for getting snagged or chewed.

They connected the string to eye hole screw….If that is what those screws are called. (?)

I am definitely going to have at least one plot like this.  I am not sure at this point which pants need the deeper root system, but I ‘ll find out.  I am thinking blueberries…okay I am dreaming about blueberries in that deeper spot.  At worse case I can use it to mature larger shrubs and roses to eventually transplant into my front yard which is destine to be come a gardener’s delight……at least from my point of view.

So that is what I learned while waiting on my keys.   I was surprised to see all the various systems used to make the raised beds.  I hope this is helpful to someone out there.

I can’t wait to grow some of my our food.  It’s amazing how many of us remember eating vegetables that came out of a can, and all that time we had enough space to grow our very own fresh vegetables, for free!

Cheers! Make it a good day.

Veggie Garden – before

This are is fenced off area behind the garage.  It is separate from the rest of the back yard, the dog yard, so it make perfect sense to make is a vegetable garden.

It measures 14 x 18 feet.  Bigger than I imagined.  I may start with a smaller initial planting areas until I get more experience.  Last thing I want is an unruly garden with poor design…..I am saving that for the front yard, not the mini farmers market.  I am pondering doing three 8 foot by 4 foot raised beds.  That will get me started without having to plow the entire space.  I imagine I will learn a lot this first year, so I consider this a phase 1 renovation, not a final destination.

Here is the space:  Thinking of some sort of screen to block the view of my neighbors lawn furniture.  Any Suggestion are welcomed.  I have seen a lot of reclaimed wood projects and may do that for now.  It might actually hold up design-wise since this is an old school veggie garden. And we will be repainting the back of the garage.  We may also decide to add a door that would lean in to a garden work place.

behind the garage fenced veggie garden

I started some of my crops by seed.  I have radishes, tomatoes, two types of lettuce , spinach, basil, cilantro, oregano, and swiss chard.  I am following an article I saw in a magazine.  These are early crops.

Here the article I am trying to somewhat follow: