We've gotten 10 or 12 inches of snow in our neighborhood in the past three days. I haven't minded one bit! As long as there's snow, winter and I are pretty good friends. It snowed all day on Sunday, and that was great because the sore throat I had last week turned into a sore throat with terrible head and body aches that kept me couch-bound all day. That's not the great part. The great part is that the couch just happens to have the best view of the yard and the snow as it falls. So if you have to be sick, you may as well be sick during a beautiful snowfall.
Then it snowed again yesterday, and since it was coming down hard they didn't bother plowing until after lunch. Since my office was closed (SNOWWW DAYYY!), I didn't feel too badly about shutting down the laptop after an hour or two and getting busy on other things like playing with Johnnie, cleaning and working on the house.
Ez and my dad put a lot of hours into the kitchen stairs and railings over the past few weeks. I think (I hope) this is really the last major heavy-duty, thought-provoking project left inside the house -- and it's almost done! Like the table Ez built for my birthday, the newel posts for the stair railing were made with 4x4s. Yesterday I spent almost three hours vibrating my arm to death with an orbital sander trying to get all five of those newel posts smooth and pretty. (I don't know how I end up with these marathon tasks like sanding things, sponging tile and priming, but I guess God didn't make me a patient person for no reason.) I have been worried about how this project is going to turn out given all the weirdness of this quirky corner, but I think it is coming around. It's not something particularly blog-worthy (on mainstream blogs at least) because it's not a flashy or exciting project, but it really feels like a big accomplishment to take a horrendous eyesore and make it look good and normal and unremarkable.
Anyway, I realize this big push to "finish" is when I should be sharing the most updates on the blog, but everything is such a big flurry of tape measures and sawdust so I'm just fitting it in when I can. Also, we're sort of in limbo about the inspection right now... As of now, I don't know what day the inspector is coming. Considering the weather, there's no way the foundation will be bricked or the gutters installed by Christmas. So... I guess we just forge ahead and see what happens. I'll keep you posted!
Have some extra fun for us, won't you?
|Dusty shoes, dusty brain, new tile|
But I was thinking last night about this little blog and what it has meant to me, and I am so thankful.
One week from today, an inspector will come to assess our home's value so we can consolidate our mortgage and home equity loan under a lower interest rate. The deadline is looming large, and it's clear that we just won't be able to tackle every project still on the To Do List before the inspector arrives. We'll do everything we can and hope for the best. Fortunately, if the assessment does not go well, it's not the end of the world. We'll be out a few dollars, we'll probably have to refinance under a slightly higher interest rate, and we'll have to do some more work before trying again. It's kind of like taking the SAT. You can always hand them some more of your money and try it again.
However, we're still so stressed this week. For me, the frustrations of the past five years are culminating and about to boil over. We're so close to being "done," but these last hurdles are toughies. We finally have to take a leap of faith to attempt the hardest projects that we've been puzzling over for months and months, unsure of how to proceed. [Gulp.] Though I'm home sick today with a sore throat and a pounding headache, this evening I got a babysitter for Johnnie so I can prime the trim on six doors and three windows; sand and stain various bits of wood, and clean, clean, clean. This is no time for nursing a cold! Plus, when I keep moving, things get done and the stress reduces.
I am thankful for this blog because it has truly gotten me through the past five years of living in and working on this house. My readership is pretty modest and my own participation has been somewhat reluctant at times, but looking back, I realize that blogging has kept me sane. It has helped me through really busy times like now; it has helped me during slower times when we couldn't muster either the energy, the funds or the desire to keep moving forward; and it has helped me when we brought a newborn home to this chaos.
I guess the therapeutic part of blogging is what has made me shy away from doing the tutorials and inspirational posts that drive many DIY, renovation or lifestyle blogs. There's enough of that out there already. I have just needed to tell our renovation story to anyone who wanted to read, because if I didn't my brain may have actually turned to sawdust. So, while blogging has basically been an entirely selfish endeavor for me, thank you so much for reading along. I'm really grateful for the encouragement and response you've given me over the past few years as I've shared our progress, woes and sawdust with you.
When we've recovered, you can all come over for a party to celebrate, because this is your victory too.
|From the office, looking down into the master bedroom|
|The office from the other direction. |
Doors, left to right: Laundry room, walk-in closet, small closet
It's a good thing I'm not in Africa right now, as I had planned. It's looking like our home appraisal (necessary for refinancing) will be scheduled for about a week from today -- much sooner than we originally thought. We're quite close, truly. However, I've spent 30+ hours priming in the past two weeks, and I still haven't done the master bathroom. (It's not quite ready yet.) If my trip hadn't been postponed, there's no way Ez could've done all this priming himself on top of all the other things he needs to do.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: ENDLESS PRIMING!
Over the past couple days, Ez, my dad and my father-in-law have worked on the following projects while I continued priming my life away:
- Installing interior doors, trim and hardware (not an easy task in a crooked house)
- Installing toilets and other plumbing
- Working on the kitchen stairs and pantry (railings, trim, etc.) -- this is the biggest task we have left
- Cleaning the reclaimed ceiling beams that have ancient grime and new spray foam insulation on them
- Cleaning other reclaimed lumber for use as trim throughout
I will not bore you with the list of 100 small things we still need to do, but we'll be trying to tackle everything systematically over the next week. The race is on.
Now for my favorite part: the master bathroom!
|Toilet! Too bad my father-in-law forgot the seat.|
|Loving the tile, brick and wood together... |
Note: Staining all the wood floors will happen at the very end.
|Shower fixtures are halfway in; waiting for the shower head to arrive.|
We've been busy, you guys. Can you tell?
One of my favorite things we've done to this house is to peel back the many layers of crusty old siding and shoddy fixes to reveal its original beauty. I don't know who would want to put cheap siding over hand-hewn logs, or why you'd ever want to slap a coat of paint on stone, but I know the house is breathing a sigh of relief to be free of these things.
Though the logs have been exposed for a few years now, we finally borrowed some sandblasting equipment last week so Ez and his buddy Chris could go to town on the stones. They have the most beautiful, sparkly veining, and I'm so happy they are finally seeing the light of day.
Prepare yourself for a scary trip down memory lane... Here are some older glimpses of the sloppily painted stone foundation (among other things):
|Egads!!! (ca. 2009)|
|Looking a little better...|
|Still improving... (earlier this year)|
They look a little scraggly, sure, but it's nothing a little TLC won't fix. Hopefully soon our brick man will come and repoint them -- in other words, repair and renew the mortar between the stones. It will look SO GOOD, much like the way repairing the chinking between the logs made an instant impact.
Now I need to go lie down. I truly just had a small panic attack looking at those old photos.
So, some tidbits of good news: Per my post on Friday, I'm officially a Lasik candidate! I literally just have to pick a Thursday between now and infinity. (I'm thinking sometime in January when the construction dust settles.)
Also, Johnnie LOVED the babysitter. Though we've used her once before and J sees her at church a lot, I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. (Johnnie is two and is sometimes very proficient at it.) Well. There was endless laughter, lots of raisins shared and a good time had by all. Plus I had a really productive morning while all this partying was going down. No complaints, and I now have said babysitter on speed dial.
I'm still priming... endless priming... So far I have the walk-in closet, the open office area and the powder room DONE. Woohoo! Having the walls painted is so visually calming, it makes me feel like I crossed 10 things off the list instead of one. Paint has dramatically lessened the pervasive chaos, and the finish line now feels so close.
I also have half the laundry room (have to move the washer and dryer in order to finish) and half the master bedroom (ran out of paint) finished as well. And all this priming took 5 gallons, so we have to buy more primer since I still have to prime the walls and ceilings downstairs in the dining room and entry.
Like I said: endless priming.
Last night I had the obvious but sad realization that we still need to actually PAINT once I finish all this priming. Ack! Fortunately painting goes a little faster. And to be honest, when I'm not crushed under the weight of a hard deadline, I find priming and painting to be kind of therapeutic. Like mowing the grass.
While I primed and primed and primed, Ez tackled a ton of other random things:
- Building a temporary rustic wood countertop for our master bath. My father-in-law has two leftover drop-in sinks from a previous plumbing job, so we're going to use them for now until we can save up for (and make a decision about) a more permanent solution. We were going to pick up two inexpensive/used pedestal sinks to use temporarily, but this solution will be more attractive, cheaper and offer more counter space. Win-win-win.
- Framing the bathroom shower stall. Reclaimed wood + shiny tile = happy bathroom. Can't wait to show you what I'm talking about.
- Patching some spots in the drywall. (Not exciting, but necessary.)
- Installing the master bathroom fan. This has been slightly problematic, and I'm glad it's finally being taken care of.
So that's the weekend update... We're still thinking our inspection for our refi will be around Christmas, so we facing a pretty ambitious deadline. Lots to do over the next month, and I'm excited to get to share the progress with you. Thanks so much for cheering us on!
|New chinking vs. old|
Today I decided to follow in Jen's footsteps with a Five Things Friday post to wrangle all my thoughts...
1. Africa. The 16-day trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo I've been so busy preparing for the past few weeks has been postponed as of this morning. The colleague I was supposed to be traveling with had a freak socks-on-slippery-hardwood accident last night and fractured a vertebra in his back. Since he's the photographer, I'm the writer, and the purpose of the trip was field reporting, we decided it didn't make sense for me to go without him. Now we're looking at January as a possible timeframe, depending on his healing process. I'm disappointed for sure, but I am also sympathetic to his injury (he was hilariously hopped up on oxycontin when I talked to him this morning), and since I've been praying about this trip from the start, I feel okay that our departure date is pushed back. Which brings me to point 2...
2. Holidays. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday -- it's simpler and less commercialized than Christmas -- and though I'm sad about my trip, a silver lining is that I don't have to feel rushed and stressed on Thanksgiving Day. (I was supposed to leave early the next morning.) Hooray -- another thing to be thankful for!
3. House. There's SO MUCH going on I can't keep up on the blog. As of today:
- The powder room floor is tiled and grouted!
- The stone foundation, which is original to the house and had lots of old paint covering it, has been sandblasted. When the process was over, I could almost hear those old stones' cries of FREEEDOOMMMM!
- I've hired a sweet teenage babysitter from our church to play with Johnnie tomorrow morning while I spend a few hours priming the master suite.
- Ez's childhood friend Chris is working on the chinking in the dining room. It's amazing how a new coat of Permachink makes everything better.
4. Eyes. Today I'm going to a surgeon to see if I'm a candidate for corrective laser surgery. Wish me luck! I'm nervous he'll tell me I can't do it because I have the world's driest eyes... My regular eye doctor once said my tear productivity was "pathetic," and I keep a bottle of eye drops on my desk next to my glass of water. It's all about hydration, people! Except my eyes are still red and bloodshot all the time.
5. Johnnie. This is my favorite age so far. I am mourning her babyhood just a little, but holy cow is she FUN now. Some Johnnie quotes I've been saving up from the past couple weeks:
While playing catch...
Me: [gently pushing her backward] Johnnie, back up a little bit. You're too close!
J: [scolding] Mama, keep your hands to yourself!
When she bit her tongue at dinner...
Me: Oh no! You poor thing, I know it hurts.
J: [crying] My tongue! Kiss it mama! [Sticks her tongue in my mouth before I can process what's happening.]
While being tickled and teased by Daddy...
J: [between giggles] Don't bend my face! ... [more giggling] Don't get me, okay Daddy? Okay? Say yes! ... [starting to get annoyed] Swiper, no swiping!
Playing with her very favorite Jellycat bear named Harvey...
J: Aww, you're crying. Do you miss your mama? It's okay Harv, I'll hold you nice and tight. [squeeze] Do you feel better now?
Have a great weekend, everyone! Any big plans?
Master Bathroom. The tile man grouted the tile last week, so Saturday I decided to wipe off the haze and clean it all up, just so we could declare it "finished." I anticipated it would be a quick 30-minute detour before I started painting. Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA. Four hours later, the water in my bucket was finally clear and my forearms were completely useless from endless sponge-wringing. The tile is utterly gleaming and lovely, though. (Trust me, not the photos. We still only have a single bare bulb for lighting in there.)
Paint. Needless to say, I did not get as much painting done as I'd planned due to all the tile wiping. I did manage to prime the walk-in closet before my stomach told me it was long past time for dinner, so that is progress at least.
Exterior. Ez got everything ready for the foundation to be bricked, and he's made arrangements to borrow equipment to sandblast the stone foundation so it can be repointed. Curb appeal, here we come!
Details. After finishing up outside, Ez came inside to tackle various smaller projects like installing a couple stair treads and flooring transition pieces. It's the little things...
Laundry. Late Sunday night I was unloading the washing machine and saw something that made my heart almost stop. I ran downstairs and told Ez I needed his assistance. He could not fathom what I was telling him: that I thought there was a cat turd in the washing machine. I don't know how it would've gotten there... the wash cycle had already run, and we don't have a cat... but seriously. I swore it was cat poop. He came upstairs with a flashlight, in disbelief. Thankfully it turned out to be a small, soggy pine cone, which I can only assume went through the wash in one of Johnnie's pockets. Sigh of relief!
Next on the agenda. Going slightly crazy... I leave for Africa in 10 days and have so much to do before I go. Plus I'm trying to soak up extra Johnnie and Ez time. I'm rather fond of those two and already miss them when I think about my trip...
Okay. Off to tackle some more of my To Do list. Prayers and chai tea latte deliveries are appreciated.
Things are shaping up. Row by row, the ugliness is disappearing and our bathroom is getting sleeker and shinier. The tile man told us he should have the tiling finished tomorrow (Tuesday) and the grouting on Wednesday.
My jaw dropped when I walked in the room this evening. It just looks so good, especially because the tile man took great pains to lay it out well and work around all the crookedness and imperfections of this old house. It's still a work in progress, but I think I'm going to love the end result. Ez pointed out how much bigger and brighter this space looks now -- important because there are no windows -- and I can just see it all coming together.
This weekend was a busy one! My parents visited and were a ton of help. Dad lent us his carpentry skills, while Mom played with Johnnie and cooked dinner so I could focus on painting.
That's right: painting! I spent all day Saturday sanding down rough spots in the spackle throughout the master suite, vacuuming and wiping down the walls and ceilings, and cutting in all the corners and edges with primer. I'm quite literally ready to roll and hope to get started over the next few evenings! Primer is not even real paint, but it amounts to much excitement in my world.
- Ez finished digging out around the kitchen foundation so it can be bricked
- Dad worked on boxing out the windows in the master suite and prepping them to for trim, and
- Our carpenter John stopped by to frame the pantry under the kitchen stairs. (Figuring out how to configure that area was hard and we've been putting it off, because there's an electrical box in there and a ton of permitting considerations had to be taken into account. But it's DONE! Can't wait to show you.)
Then on Sunday, we went to Lowe's and bought 14 cases of white subway tile for the master bathroom, which the tile guy is starting to install today. Squeeeeal!
This level of progress kind of reminds me of 2009 when we were fresh-faced, child-free and full of energy to work on this place. The race is on.