Rebuilding the calluses

Getting back to work after a few months off is hard. Really hard. Really, really hard. Not that we didn’t know that, but after so many Saturdays and Sundays not working, we’re moving slowly. But we’re moving! So there’s that.

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We tore down the bulkheads that cover the entrances to the basement. They’re “trash” as Lou says.

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And trash is where they went. Oh look! Our friend is back!

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All this ruckus caused a little concern and confusion.

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Meanwhile, at the front of the house, those of us who could not tear apart bulkheads did what we do best: painted.

 

 

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Spring colors

Spring has not sprung in New England. But that doesn’t matter. We’re still excited to try out some lovely colors on the exterior of this old, brown, peeling lady. 

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Welcome back, backyard

Yesterday, the pile of snow that Lou made about a month back finally melted, the last little three-inch mound fading away, at least for now. This is not to say that it won’t be back – Wednesday’s forecast calls for snow showers. But it’s been in the high 20s/mid 30s/OMG yesterday it was 58 and so, with a long list of to-dos, the chosen form of procrastination becomes the backyard. 

The backyard does not have a lawn. It has patchy grass that makes up maybe 30% of it. Then, weeds (which, in bloom, look like beautiful wild flowers if you squint real hard) make up another 60%. Then there are just dirt patches that fill out the rest. 

We’ve been throwing around the idea of just dumping a bunch of lawn seed on it and seeing what happens. I mean, it can’t be worse than it is now, right? At worst, the birds get the best few weeks of their lives and we get a few new sprouts of grass. And so today, we tried to go for the at best, and I spent the morning churning up dirt (only to realize there are rentable machines that do this but hey my arms/back/butt needed a workout) and pulling weeds in preparation for “dumping a bunch of lawn seed” out there later this week. The internet said fall is the best time to plant lawn seed but hey, the internet can be wrong and based on our weather, I think it’s like, late fall. But it doesn’t really matter – the dirt is a perfectly soft consistency right now, and that’s my reasoning for doing yard work when the rest of Boston knows it’s not yet spring. 

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Having a moment after I raked a lot of dirt, grass, weeds, and debris. So glamorous. Taken by Lou from our kitchen above.

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Been Painting the Third Floor

Been Painting the Third Floor

My helper. Doing a lot of helping.

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Coming in with hours to spare

I went for two runs today (don’t worry, the second one was only so I could join some folks for a beer afterwards). I think I can find the time to post all the photos I’ve been meaning to over the last few months before the ball drops. Or I go to bed. We know which is happening first, right?

In the order they should have been posted: first, the bathroom. These are old. The bathroom has been finished for six months or so.

bathroomaDammit. Left the seat up.

bath step

bathroom doorOld house hack: Bust the center pieces out of an old door. Put plexiglass panels in their places and sand lightly so they become opaque. Done!

bathroom12-31cOld house hack 2: Capture the space from those long, deep, worthless bedroom closets. Build a cabinet (so easy!), knock out the wall space, and put it through the wall into that now not-so-worthless closet space. Extra credit: add an outlet so you can hide things like hairdryers in it.

bath vanity

Lou Simmons custom bath vanity #2. The entire front face swings open. Black faucets by Brizo. I liked them because they’re black. I didn’t care about the designer who’s better known for gowns.  I wished our shower fixtures could have matched, but, you know. $$$$.

Light shades and fixtures (above the sink and the shower) from Schoolhouse Electric. I had been dying to buy something from this company and the bathroom gave me the perfect excuse.

Towel hooks from Brook Farm General Store. They’re fun. Maybe not the most functional when it comes to helping towels dry but that’s not why I bought them anyhow.

Clawfoot tub redux here. It’s matte black with glossy white feet. And a Lou Simmons custom teak grate in it so we don’t have to stand on the curved, rough, rusty bottom.

Moving on to the kitchen! It’s almost all but finished (looking at you, exposed stud).

kitchenaHere’s the breakdown: Ikea kitchen cabinets. Bosch appliances. Some FOTI (found on the internet) fixtures: sink by Dawn, faucet by Grohe, vent hood by who the hell knows, the price was right. Hacked together Ikea butcher block countertop as table top and Ikea table legs. Giant window and little window that cranks out by Pella. Granite countertops also ordered through Ikea (that look like marble, because we so are not those people on HGTV squealing “GRANITECOUNTERSOHMYGAWDILOVETHEM!”

The light fixture we did ourselves (as IF you couldn’t tell).  It involves a steel pipe, brackets, cloth covered wire, bulbs, and some electrical knowledge. It’s also not finished yet as we threw those cords haphazardly around it the evening of our holiday party and need to re-wrap them the way they do on places like Pinterest.

Pro-tip: If you’re going the Ikea route, go there during their annual kitchen sale. We saved 20% on the total package. Sure, I lost 10 hours of my life, but I did get some meatballs and a lesson (or twelve) in patience.

Coming soonish, aka in 2014: Stainless steel backsplash on the wall over the stove. Wall end cap with internal wine rack.

Looks pretty nice, all in all.

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kitchenc

Oh, wait. This little space. Where most of our dishes currently rest, we have plans for Lou-built shelves from the floor, going up about six feet. In the middle will be a long shelf that serves as a coffee bar, basically to get our coffeepot and toaster off the counter.

If you have a question or comment about the flourescent lighting, please direct all inquiries to Lou Simmons in the comments. I take no responsibility for them, or for when you go blind because they’re so bright.

kitchendNow, a few shots from real, actual food that came out of the above kitchen. We had my family in town for Thanksgiving and then a holiday open house. It’s not that exciting, but the house is clean and looking like a real house. I finally started to see it not as the giant project we’ve been living in, but as a nice home.

thanksgiving spread bI know, it’s only cheese and crackers. But in the background are goat cheese stuffed mushrooms. I ate almost all of them.

holiday spread

mini ginger spice cupcakesOh hey, our oven works!

fireplace mantelI didn’t know it until the day of the party, but all those tools that have been hanging out on the mantel? They actually come off!

living roomI’m sort of obsessed with the blue walls and bookshelf. And look, a cameo by Jesus, who is no longer in the kitchen and instead, in a doorway on the floor.

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That black wire thing in the photo below is something we picked up at a local estate sale. I think when it grows up, it’s going to be some kind of side table. Lou?

The horse photo was my grandmother’s and I always loved it.

living room 3And finally, because we’re going through house updates, there’s one more very important one that just happened.

reggie smilingReggie the greyhound! He came home Sunday. Not just a foster, but a forever dog. You know, because I miss vacuuming up construction dust, I thought the best way to deal was to get something that sheds. At least his coat matches the floors.

pensive reggie

Happy 2014! Snuck this post in with hours to spare. See you next year! And no, no resolutions about blogging more.

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F is for fall. And almost finished.

42 degrees this morning. Cold and sunny with that whole fall thing going on. I’m starting to enjoy it. You see, the leaves literally and constantly fall as you walk down the street. I get it now. Fall.

TIMEOUT. This is not a post where I go all chick-blogger-style and praise fall and profess my love for pumpkin spice lattes, talk about my feelings for scarves and boots, and improperly capitalize fall (Fall) a hundred times. That’s right, don’t capitalize seasons unless you are naming your child after one. <END RANT>

Which brings me to: We’re back to the season in which we bought the house. We’re back to flashbacks of tearing down wallpaper. We’re back to the crockpot, because we still don’t have a kitchen. And I’m about to head to the laundromat despite the fact that I’m staring at the dryer in the dining room. At least it’ll be a beautiful day because, hey, it’s Fall and we Love Fall and I just want to swim in Pumpkin Spice waterfalls with nutmeg candles piled on the mantel and…Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

In ten days, we celebrate one year of owning this beast of a house. And in ten days, we will have cabinets in the kitchen. Maybe appliances. But probably not a countertop as there does not appear to be the kind of slab we chose ANYWHERE in the state of Massachusetts (another tangent – I just spelled the state I live in correctly, on the first try, which is sadly exciting). I guess we chose the one countertop that nobody else at Ikea orders, ever. Of course.

So the plaster people came on Monday and did the entire kitchen (well, partial walls and ceiling) in just one day. I can’t decide if I’m happier about having walls I can’t see into, or a new closet!

new closet

That’s right. The stairs to the basement had a door in the hall and a door two feet away in the kitchen. We put a board up, and the plaster dudes just did their thing and now, closet! Guess who gets to paint that thing today? Also, shitty photo. I’m too lazy to the the nice camera out, sorry.

plaster and cabinetsHere’s one corner of the kitchen. There’s a lot going on. Because we have pipes and electrical things that we already had installed against the old walls, which will all be covered behind the cabinets, the plaster in this instance goes down just past the countertop. This created the perfect excuse for Lou to use the orange spray paint to mark the walls that shouldn’t be plastered. And finally, Lou is setting cabinets today, so there’s a base for them. It’s all very glamorous.

laundry nookAnd here’s the laundry nook to-be. Imagine a wall running right behind the back of the fridge (that silver thing on the right) dividing the room, and a stacked washer and dryer to the left it, connecting to that box there on the left. Soon. Soon…

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How do I get to my blog? What’s the password?

I got left at home this fine Saturday morning when Lou went to Home Depot, so here I am, on the blog of all places. We have fun house guests visiting (and I don’t mean the appliances hanging out in the guest bedroom), so I have a nice excuse to stay in and eat pastries while he gets early morning errands done. Is it strange to not be walking the aisles of my favorite store right now? Yes. Do I miss driving through the crowded South Bay Center parking lot swearing at people? Of course. But there’s always tomorrow morning. Or even later tonight.

So that leads to me finally dusting off the ol’ blog. Again. Like catching up with an old friend, there’s a lot to update you on, but I don’t want to bore you or talk all about myself, so first I’ll ask you how the kids are doing, your job, that weird thing you were seeing the doctor about – is it taken care of? Good.

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, OH DID YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE HOUSE??!?

Well, we waited all summer for that electrical permit to happen so we could get the full building inspection permit thingy. Done and done! We didn’t even get hassled to fix anything or pay additional fees. Weird. So now (like, now, today) we’re getting the kitchen ready for the plaster man who’s coming this week to drywall/plaster/make the ugly go away. This is huge. No more crumbling walls in the kitchen, Jesus will have to find a new home, and we’ll get to put the cabinets and appliances in within a week or two.

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Hopefully the last time you’ll ever see the kitchen like this.

Also in the kitchen – a new view out to our backyard where the tomatoes are overgrown and the shrubs are turning brown from a fungal root infection. The new window was Lou’s idea, I could have gone either way but since the kitchen is the one room that’s completely redone, top to bottom, a new window makes sense. And it is very pretty.

Meanwhile, not in the kitchen: A few months ago I decided since the kitchen wasn’t going anywhere fast, I’d make the living room a place I actually wanted to spend more than a few minutes. So I rearranged the furniture (it didn’t help but the newness was fun for a couple of days). I got a little crazy and went dark on the walls. After six years of wanting a new couch, we took advantage of a sale and tax-free weekend to get one.  And finally, we even put up some shelves and unpacked our books. It’s like we live here now.

living roomAnd of course, the new couch is grey (not our living room, photo from here).

grey couch

Next, I decided our bedroom was an awful place to be due to the random furniture, bare walls, and icky light that comes through the cheap blinds at night. So the crazy came back and I painted the walls a different shade of dark, we rearranged more furniture (this time it actually made a big difference), and we put up curtains. It’s now a dark cave and you can sleep for 12 hours straight and it is wonderful.

bedroom sample

Paint. Curtains. Rug. Grey. Duh. 

And while the company associated with this next update deserves its own blog post rant and Yelp review and Angie’s List review, I just can’t even be bothered because I already took their survey, called and yelled at them, still sent them a check for their “services,” and now I am just done with them.

The good news is, we got the house insulated. The exterior walls on all three floors, plus the attic are now full of cellulose and foam. The dudes who did it said they didn’t see one shred of insulation in our walls before they started, and that they had never put so much insulation in one house. And that was BEFORE they came back a second time to fill in the giant sections of walls that they missed. What? Yes. The empty sections that were found the following week when their OTHER service team was installing the heating system we bought from them. See, since our house might actually keep in heat and stuff, we installed some fancy in-room wall units that heat and cool. The rebates plus the no-interest loan and low monthly payments plus the energy efficiency of these things even, I’m guessing, in January when it’s freezing, all add up to what will surely be less than the monthly oil bill the radiators and boiler system produce.

Unfortunately, this whole process – the initial efficiency assessments, the coordination for and installation of products, and general communication – is poorly run through an unorganized company that may or may not be just a bunch of people working from their homes making phone calls and sending emails under one supervisor’s name. I’m about 67% sure that’s what’s happening. Whatever. It’s done now. Let it fucking snow.

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