Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kitchen Day #6: Exhaustion

1 day, 6 people, 75+ collective hours of work.  We've got some serious progress.  Also, some serious exhaustion.  While I wait my turn in the shower line, I have about enough energy just to say....I'm too tired to blog!  (Or to take pictures, or to think, really).  Tomorrow we're taking some time to relax with our visitors (they deserve it after all that's been done in the kitchen!)  I'll be back with pictures Sunday afternoon or evening :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kitchen Day # 4 - 5: Thankful for friends

Kitchen days #4 and #5.  Let's see.  Lots of progress, including:

  • Electrical is almost all complete (except for the fact that I just returned from Lowe's an hour ago with a new pendant light that was not originally in the schematic)
  • Plumbing changes are well underway
  • Insulation 75% complete (everywhere we could without being in the way of the remaining electrical and plumbing)
  • The cabinet guy came, measured the space, and confirmed that our plan will work
  • We bought a dishwasher!  

None of the above would be possible if it weren't for our amazing friends, Greg, Ellen, Phil, and Rachael, who drove up from Pennsylvania to spend a long weekend with us.  We're thrilled that they found the time in their extremely busy lives to come visit, and even more shocked that they intentionally chose to visit specifically to hang out in the torn-apart kitchen!  Thankfully, they have the skills and patience to make it a very nice put-back-together kitchen, not to mention that they're making the whole process lots more fun!  :)

We should also give a shout-out to our dear local friends Glenn and Jenny (remember them from our winter snowshoe adventure?) who picked up and delivered dinner tonight for us and our lovely work crew!

We are certainly very thankful for such fabulous people!  Tomorrow, I'll try to remember to take more pictures of the progress (which will likely include drywall!)  But, for today, I'll leave you with victorious Phil, taken shortly after he pulled the old drain pipe from the floor:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kitchen Day #3: It's Electric

I can't remember if I've blogged about this fun fact before, but when Justin figured out the mapping of outlets and lights to circuits, he made a chart and titled it "It's Electric!"  This nod to the party dance favorite tune never ceases to make me laugh out loud.  It may be a silly thing, but it's one of those million little things that make me realize every day how blessed I am to be married to my very best friend.

But enough mushiness, time to get down to serious kitchen-reporting business.  I started my 3-day vacation today (ironically) by heading in to the office to finish up some phone calls and paperwork I couldn't finish during yesterday's busy-ness.  When I got home, it was off to the dump to drop off the second load of demolition junk, then to Lowe's for a 3-cart order of drywall, insulation, and other miscellaneous supplies.

There certainly aren't as many dramatic presto-chango pictures to show you as yesterday.  But the electric is looking much better today....cleaner, neater, and most importantly, safer!

We found some interesting/scary things when we removed the walls (you can get an idea from the random, hanging electrical boxes in the center of this picture)

Today, things are looking much better!

So, again, although there's been a lot of forward progress, I don't necessarily have a lot to write about tonight.    But you know me, and a 3 paragraph blog post is far too short for someone wordy like me.  For whatever reason, I just happened to remember a story that is tangentially related to this topic; and people have said they like the personal parts of the blog, so here we go:

Most readers probably know that Justin and I met at Bucknell.  We dated briefly our sophomore year, but although we knew there was some chemistry there, the timing didn't seem quite right, and we amicably split, only to develop a great friendship that eventually blossomed into a true romantic relationship during our senior year.  We laugh in retrospect at some of those friendly activities during which we were both so blind to something more that was developing.

One time in particular, Justin visited my dorm on a Friday or Saturday night.  I must have been the RA (resident assistant) on duty, meaning that I couldn't leave the building.  Justin claims now that he was bored; I claim now he just wanted to hang out with me.  We must have chatted for a while, and somehow, I ended up getting out my calculator, one that had been broken for several months, yet I held on to it because of my secret love of technical things.  Justin and I spent that evening kneeling on the floor of the dorm, taking the calculator apart, trying to fix it, trying to put it back together.  Justin thought/thinks that I got it out just for any excuse to keep him hanging around, I maintain that he was the only person nerdy enough to also find a thrill at taking apart and putting back together a calculator.

So, anyway, perhaps a silly story, but just something sweet I remember as a very evident precursor to our life now, taking apart and putting back together an old house.  It's clear God had lots of things in motion before we even had a clue.  I guess that's why our first dance at our wedding was the "Keeper of the Stars...."

It was no accident
Me finding you
Someone had a hand in it
Long before we ever knew

I can't remember now what happened with the calculator; I seem to think we never were able to get it to work.  Let's hope for better luck with the rest of this kitchen project!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kitchen Day #2: D-Day!

As scheduled, today was kitchen demolition day.  It's hard to believe that the mythical day in the future is actually here.  I've mentioned before...the kitchen is the final frontier in terms of renovation.  Certainly, there are other little projects here and there that we will continue to work on through the coming months.  But the kitchen renovation is the final big project, and when it's completed, (with the exception of the living room ceiling) we will have re-finished every wall, floor, and ceiling in the entire first and second floors of the house (7 rooms, 3 closets, and a stairwell).

And, as promised, here's today's update!

When I came home from work at lunchtime (don't feel bad for Justin, he wanted to do this part alone), the kitchen looked like this:

I helped Justin relocate the cabinets to the basement over lunch (we have other projects in mind for them later...), where we're currently storing just about everything but the kitchen sink.  (This is the first time in my life I've ever heard that phrase used literally).

When I returned home after an afternoon at work and a grocery-shopping trip, the kitchen looked like this:

We're now down to the studs, and have been extremely pleased with their condition.  We were tentative about today, nervous about what we'd find.  Justin found a few assorted treasures (including plastic doll dishes, a picture, marbles, and a raunchy 1970s magazine ("treasures" used loosely on that last one)).  More importantly, the studs are not rotted or cracked, and the bulge behind the refrigerator was nothing more than extra insulation.  (My irrational fear was that we'd find the body of a deceased raccoon.  Yes, I am aware that a raccoon obviously could not die within our walls without a horrible stench, but this knowledge didn't convince my irrational side that it wasn't the case).  We also expected ant colonies, mice skeletons, and the awful insulation that was in the kitchen ceiling, but thankfully none of these came true.

In all, it was a very successful day.  The only minor mishap was discovered in retrospect.  I was washing our dinner dishes in my very sophisticated shower-sink (see exhibit A), when I noticed that an overzealous crowbar strike had wreaked a little havoc (is "a little havoc" possible?) in the adjacent bathroom.

Glamorous temporary sink

Oopsy spot on the bathroom drywall
The back of the shower, from the kitchen
I'm not too worried, given that I have plenty of other places that need to be spackled and painted.  But, it did remind me that I hadn't shown you the beautiful work my family did while visiting a few weeks ago.  A full post about the laundry room is on my to-do list, but for now, enjoy this sneak-peak!

I'll be back tomorrow with more kitchen progress, as we start re-insulating and hanging some drywall!

Kitchen Day #1: Movin' Out

Well, folks, here's something you've heard before: a campaign promise for a new blog initiative.  At least my track record for actually completing projects is far better than reporting on them.  My latest idea is to keep you truly informed of the progress in the kitchen renovation.  The posts won't be wordy, necessarily, but I'll try to at least post some pictures to show the latest changes.  Dare I say....daily?

Today was preparation day.  (And, no, not for the Sabbath.  I think that's the only context I've ever heard "preparation day," is in the Bible readings for Holy Week).  But I digress.  I don't particularly enjoy preparing for any renovation project.  The tasks seem tedious, and I'm just anxious to get the project started.  Preparing to live without a kitchen for 6 weeks certainly didn't make it any more fun.  But we're ready to go!  And demolition starts (on schedule) tomorrow morning!

I'm too tired to write much more, so let's take a photo journey:

The kitchen, as advertised in the sales listing for this house (Justin would likely insert a comment about why we didn't just turn and run then).

These three best show the kitchen in use for the last year.  It was livable, but I grew tired of the lack of storage and consequential clutter.

Here's the kitchen as it looks tonight:

You can see above that we now have a little plastic bubble with which to travel from the clean upstairs to the clean downstairs (avoiding the kitchen, which is inconveniently laid out to include the passageway to upstairs).  There's a teeny little passageway of plastic, which ought to be loads of fun when transporting baskets of laundry up and down (no pun intended).  

Some of you may wonder about the panel list.  Ideally, we would have completed all of the items prior to renovating the kitchen.  However, I don't feel the need to delay this project just for the sake of a horseback ride, a visit to a winery, and a bike ride on a local bike trail.  We can celebrate the fact that our spunky writing on the walls inspired us to try cross-country skiing, complete a 90 mile bike ride around Cayuga lake, a night in a bed-and-breakfast, and several other fun events.  We've keeping the remaining items on a piece of paper, and we will probably end up keeping an ongoing "fun to-do list."

You may wonder how we plan to eat for the next 6 weeks.  We have a temporary ("very rough"...that was for you, Kathy) dining/storage area in the den.  If you want to take pity on us and feed us, we won't complain.  Also if you have ideas for meals that can be cooked with a microwave and/or a George Foreman grill, one large bowl, and one mixing spoon, that would also be appreciated.  Now that you all know how to comment, of course ;)

Just when we got the musical chairs settled (i.e., bachelor bed & desk out of the kitchen, our bed moved upstairs, desk in the den, etc), here we are with temporary arrangements again!  Oh....and the refrigerator is on the back porch.  It may be our most redneck move to date.

Ceremonial removal of the first piece of paneling:

(Yes, a year later, Justin still does most renovation work topless.  Don't try that at home).

Tomorrow, it's D-Day.  Demolition Day.  Good-bye paneling and old, non-insulative insulation day.  Hooray!  Check back for the updates on Kitchen Day #2!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A little catch-up

Well, it's 12:35 AM.  I was a good girl and got to bed early (by my standards) around 11, and spent the next hour plus tossing, turning, and day dreaming about my kitchen.  (Why count sheep when you can count cabinets?)  Apparently my extreme sensitivity to caffeine didn't bode well with the decaffeinated iced tea I had after work.  And my excitement about kitchen renovations doesn't help.

Oh, wait...I need to play major catch-up on the ol' blog, so that kitchen comments make sense!

You might remember that the kitchen was the last project on our list.  Once the rest of the house was "done," we decided, we'd wait for a while, save up some money, and then dive into the kitchen.  In my blog delinquency, I haven't shared with you that the front porch is now done and the laundry room is now done.  (Pictures should be forthcoming on those....although I'm having trouble falling asleep, I am too tired to go find the camera cord).  The upstairs is 99% complete (waiting only for some touch-up paint and installing bedroom doors).  The downstairs has a few other touch-up projects, and we need to install ceiling tiles on the living room ceiling.  Otherwise, the downstairs is done, too.

The laundry room has been finished for all of about 5 days.  While our initial plans had us waiting more along the lines of 5 months, or even much longer, we're ready now to dig into the kitchen.  We have the momentum, vacation time, and (thankfully) the necessary funds to get this project underway.  I need to confirm with the (sleeping) demolition boss, but I'm pretty sure he plans to start ripping down the paneling within two weeks.  WOO HOO!  This is simultaneously exhilarating and frightening.  Although we've successfully gutted (and put back together!) other rooms of the house, it's no secret that a kitchen's just a tad more complicated.  There will be new challenges, and tons of decisions.

My head is spinning in particular tonight because I went to Lowes and set up a consultation with a kitchen designer.  I'm SO EXCITED to meet with him on Wednesday and take my ideas and have him put them on paper.  The cabinet catalogs he gave me certainly didn't do much for my one-night insomnia.

When I started writing this post, I had intentions of listing out some of the exciting plans I have for the kitchen, but my eyelids are finally getting heavy.  I'll be back with promised pictures of the porch, the laundry room, as well as lots of kitchen planning and progress.  Until then, sweet renovation dreams!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crowd Participation [How to Post Comments]

The purpose of this post is two-fold.  10% of the purpose is to say "Hey...I want to hear that you're out there!  Here's a not-so-subtle hint to post comments."  90% of the purpose is to help people out, because I've honestly heard several loyal blog readers say they've had trouble trying to get a comment posted.

And so, without further ado....How to Post a Comment!

1) At the bottom of each blog post, you will see the current number of comments (usually, 0, although theoretically that will change after you read this!)  Click on the link where it says comments (circled in red below)

2) After you click on the comment link, this screen will appear.  Type your comment in the big open box.

3) After typing your comment in the box, click on the drop-down arrow where it says "Select profile..."  From this list, select "Name/URL"

4) Type your name in the box, and leave the URL blank (unless you have your own website, and would like to share it).  Click continue.

5) Click "Post Comment"

6) Smile, because you just increased my comment count!  You should be able to see record at the bottom of the post, and when other people click on the Comment count, they can read what you wrote

I hope this makes sense!  If you have questions, let me know (although you'll have to find another means of communication if that's the case!)  :)  Thanks in advance for the comments, it really makes my day when people respond to my posts!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A far cry from drywall

If I had finished and posted my "year in review" blog post (which will hopefully be appearing later this week), you would remember that last year's Independence Day project was hanging drywall on the kitchen ceiling.  We looked something like this: 

hot, sweaty, and quite cranky by the end.  This year, we spent the holiday weekend a little differently.

We spent Friday afternoon relaxing on the beach at the lake in Eagles Mere, PA, followed by a stay in a lovely Bed and Breakfast.  It had beautiful grounds, delicious breakfast, and a private hot tub in our room; all of which were totally awesome.

Saturday, with a change in pace, we set off hiking on the Loyalsock Trail.  After spending the afternoon splashing in the waters of the creek and napping on large, smooth rocks in the sun, we camped overnight. We survived not one...or two...or three...but FOUR major thunderstorms overnight in our tiny tent.  I have never heard such loud thunder, which was particularly amplified by the echoes through the valley.  Thankfully, we stayed dry despite the driving rains, and God saw us through to the morning.  My jury is still out on camping in general.  It was definitely lots of fun...before dark!

After hiking back out Sunday morning, we went to Mass at a sweet little county church, where the charm was increased by their lack of power (due to the storms).  We then joined Justin's family (his dad, sister Morgan, grandparents, and aunt and uncle) at their family's hunting cabin.  Delicious food and fun family time ensued.

Sunday night, Justin was part of the crew that set off the fireworks at the Eagles Mere Country Club.  He has done professional fireworks shows for five years or so now, and it just so happens that I have never been there to see it done.  Sunday was my first and last time to watch, let me tell you.  The fireworks were grand, but at the first "boom" I found myself suddenly sobbing and unable to look at the sky, my eyes trained only on the four silhouettes I saw running amidst the smoke on the ground, as if my intent watch could somehow protect Justin from my worst fears.  Although I intellectually understand that the fireworks show is done very safely, my emotions could not handle seeing the love of my life somewhere that appeared so dangerous.

I stole these pictures from my sister-in-law, Morgan (thanks, girl!).  You can see here in the second shot just how scary and dangerous the whole fireworks business looks, and why someone who is madly in love with her husband might not have enjoyed the whole event.

After I was able to hug Justin and clean myself up from being such a blubbery mess, we all headed back to the cabin for a camp fire and corresponding camp treats.  Monday brought a hike, another swim in the creek, and an impromptu but memorable picnic with Steve (my father-in-law), Morgan, and Justin.

All in all, it was a great weekend.  We both immensely enjoyed the opportunity to relax together.

On the home front, I'm distraught that I killed my front-porch hanging plant (a fuchsia) via neglect over vacation.  I thought that it could tough it out while we were away (without bothering neighbors or friends to water it) but I was wrong.  Intensive efforts to revive it are underway now, but the prospect doesn't look good.  In other news, our corn plants have far surpassed the "knee high by fourth of July" guide mark.

I hope each of you enjoyed a holiday weekend as much fun as ours!  :)