Monday, January 28, 2008

Kitchen - the finishing touches

When I got out my Sherwin Williams Color sampler and held it up to my kitchen,it was obvious that a few gold colors made Dorothy's cabinets look great. All other colors made the cabinets look every one of their 40+ years.

Perhaps there is a lesson for my wardrobe in there somewhere.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a couple of Sherwin Williams sample paint cans in the most promising shades. I put some of the paint on the wall, lived with it for a week to make sure I liked it, solicited input from others, and this weekend, I took the Plunge.

In stage 1: crack repair, I made a startling discovery. My chosen paint color 'harvester' almost exactly matches one of the prior paint incarnations in my kitchen.

I could have just SKIPPED all of the decision-making stages.

After completing the paint job, we were Motivated. I finished grouting the kitchen backsplash, left incomplete for the past 13 months. Martin replaced the electrical outlets with bright white shiny new ones.

And I had a small epiphany.

When we moved it, we basically lived on one, somewhat tolerable floor. There was no obvious place for the kitty litter, so it wound up in a rather inappropriate place - the kitchen. Ewwwww, I hear you say.

Yes. Imagine how fun it is to host a small party and have the cat decide it's potty time in front of your guests. Very special.

But with the completion of the basement insulation and weatherstripping, we could now just leave the basement door open! And this means a whole new floor of potential Kitty Litter locations!
I chose an appropriate place under the stairs, dealt with Hissy Cat, and reclaimed my kitchen.

But this left an unoccupied region under the counter at the end of the sink, former Kitty Bathroom. This was once the location of the fridge, until I decided that 30" didn't meet our fridge needs, so I bought the 36" side-by-side model complete with water filter and ice maker, which didn't fit in the 30" fridge spot, so we jammed the new fridge in front of the back door leading to Rotting Back Steps (Safety Feature!), and in the process of last year's kitchen facelift, we extended the counter to the end of the wall to get a desk spot.

Or, at least, it would be a desk spot if it just had a chair. Specifically, a 24" barstool.

Fortunately, with one short trip to the Ballard Fred Meyer, an assemble-it-yourself barstool is had for $35. 15 minutes with Elmer's Glue and a screwdriver, and I've got an upstairs office location!

My original plan was to replace this large window with a similarly sized set of French Doors leading to an Enormous Party Deck, then wall in the existing back door/rotted back steps combo.

Sadly, the Side Sewer Adventure rather ruined the budget for any such extravagant plans. I have resigned myself to 'Plan B' - get rid of the Trusty Wood Stove, push the fridge over to the current Wood Stove Location, and rebuild Rotted Back Steps.

The full picture:

The 'before' shot can be found here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Overwhelmed by color choice?

Friday's Seattle Times has an interesting article on Authentic Home, a paint store in West Seattle where they take the edge off choosing your paint colors with a Paint Bar featuring paint selections to match your style - assuming your stye is 'Elegant', 'Serene', or 'Playful'. Those of us who label our style 'Tacky', 'Bleak', or 'Stuffy' will have to shop elsewhere.

Particularly intriguing are their 'color cups' - 2 oz samples of your color choice for $4.25. I like the idea of a small sample. The 'sample quart' from my Sherwin Williams, my current Paint Vendor of Choice, seems a relative steal at $4.99, but I feel guilty about the leftover paint which gets carted off to HazMat.

I'm tempted to try it, but I don't know how I could possibly survive on only 60 color choices, even if they are 60 tasteful, well-chosen options. I like being able to choose from 60 different shades of Beige alone!

Clearly, sniffing paint has gone to my head.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Of Windows and Weirdos

On my last Lowe's run, I took advantage of their glass sales & cutting desk and had them cut a piece of glass to match my broken pane in preparation for actually replacing the cardboard 'Listerine' sign which just shouts out "Come back next week, ya'll might find a toilet on the front porch!" During today's brief daytime high of 40 degrees, I wandered outside to extract the broken window and replace it with my replacement pane. Chisel and hammer in hand, while pounding away at 70 year old caulk, I got that unmistakeably creepy feeling of Being Watched.

Turning around, still clenching my claw hammer, I saw two strange men in the neighbor's driveway staring at me. I could only assume they were part of the crew working on the new construction houses up the street, trying to find out who else is making loud noises in the 'hood.

On seeing me notice them, one of the men came out with a greeting. "We were just checking out technique," he said.


My construction technique is just fine, thank you very much.

And my window?


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weather Be Basement Windows

Now that the Floor Epoxy is done, I have moved my office from The Dining Room Table to an Actual Desk in the basement. And it's given me opportunity to notice the Stiff Breeze coming through the sides of the windows, and keeps me staring at the not just cracked, but completely broken window pane which we covered up in cardboard "temporarily" about 5 months ago.

So off I went to Home Depot, a rather longer trip than usual as I locked my keys in the trunk and had to have Martin come Save the Day. While waiting for My Hero, I procured Frost King plastic press-on weather stripping, complete with a crowned Pillsbury Dough Boy on the front of the package. Now, is it just me or is 'Frost King' perhaps not the best brand name for serious home improvement materials? Do we really want to purchase a home repair product that suggests we want fries with it?

I am forced to overcome my product marketing objections by the simple fact that this seems to be the only correct product at Home Depot which will deal with a non-uniform gap, as my windows, like the rest of my house, gave up being square, straight and level decades ago.

It's 27 degrees out. I have incentive to hurry.

Take 2 Small Scissor Steps Backwards

Ballardia repair has been a series of progress and regress. Change a lightbulb, the light fixture breaks. Replace the sewer line, and the basement floods from storm water instead of sewage (ok, that's progress). Insulate the basement but break a basement window pane.

What's next? Why, only for repaired and replaced items to start breaking! And we can start with the kitchen faucet, which started off last Friday morning by having the handle come off in my hand while frantically pre-cleaning prior to the arrival of our cleansing professional. Yes. I admit it. I outsource my cleaning. I look at this as a) a small price to pay for increased domestic harmony, and b) Quite a Value compared to other things I could be doing with my time, as a cleaning person costs less per hour than a painter, carpenter, electrician, etc. If I have someone else clean for 2 hrs every other week, that's 4 hours per month that I could spend painting or hanging insulation or caulking or repairing plaster or any of those other things I have come to equate with Home Survival Instincts. Or I could sleep in. You can figure out which by the rate of my blog entries.

But I digress. Back to the kitchen faucet. Last Thanksgiving, the task of installing a dishwasher in the kitchen spawned a small kitchen facelift, including a disposal, dishwasher,refrigerator, tile countertop, sink, and faucet. Yep, that same faucet giving me grief today is vintage late 2006. In my Shopping Frenzy to procure a suitable yet Budget Friendly faucet, I ordered a $150 Generic model from Lovely faucet really.....looks much like the $500 Grohe ones. Which, incidentally, I have in my rental condo,and it's been working fine despite tenant abuse for 6 years. Whereas Cheap Generic Knockoff Faucet can't survive 13 months of ME.

It appeared that it could be fixed by a slightly longer screw, but of course it's the sort of "specialty screw" that my local Home Depot or Lowes doesn't carry. Fixing it required a visit to Tacoma Screw, which is not actually in Tacoma, as the name would imply, but on Leary Way in that between Ballard and Fremont, the Center of the Universe. I'm happy Tacoma Screw is there, but I don't get the business model. I go in about twice a year, need about 5 minutes of attention from a "screw professional" (one wonders what it actually says on their business cards), and I spend, on average, well, nothing, because they usually just give me the 5 cent screw. How does that work with staffing costs and in-city rent?

But my faucet is fixed, and I love you, Tacoma Screw. And someday, I'm going to come in and buy something. I promise.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Drooling over the Territorial Seed Company catalog

I know I claimed that there was No Gardening in my 2008 Ballardia plans, other than a few maintenance-related items, but the arrival of the Territorial Seed Company catalog has left even a Garden Flunkie like myself drooling over the possibilities.

I could care less about flowers, but my Practical Nature and Predilection for Cooking has me thinking about the freshness of ingredients picked from my very own garden, though we know that should I attempt it, there will be rows of sad, wilted, dried plants, not yummy herbs and vegetables.

I'm particularly intrigued by things that I can't find at the grocery store, and since there are several great grocery stores in Ballardia, as well as a fruit stand, normally there's not much in that category. But from the Territorial Seed Co, I can have
Purple and Gold "Green Beans", Purple or Orange Cauliflower, White Eggplant or just the long skinny eggplant types that aren't sold in stores Near Me. And look at the color of these carrots! Apparently Carrots don't just come in Carrot Color!

I might have to have a garden after all. And I'm sure that's just what they were counting on when they sent the catalog.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"Low Odor - Environmentally Friendly".

Right on the front of the box, where you can't miss it, the claim is made: "Low odor - Environmentally friendly". And it's a big fat enormous LIE.

So, having been silly enough to believe the advertising, I sit here high as a kite freezing my toes off with all of the windows in my entire house open on this 38 degree Seattle Sunday afternoon, trying to get the Hazardous Fumes to dissipate and my Mental State to return to something approximating Sober.

What was I doing? Working off that 2008 to-do list while the momentum of the New Year is still Fresh. Fire item #4, "epoxy paint cement basement floor".
Rust-Oleum makes this basement floor coating suitable for cement floors - at least, they made this product 2+ years ago, and I have no idea whether they still do. Sad fact - I bought the floor epoxy over 2 years ago, for use in an entirely different house, and it has been stored, neglected, lost, found, moved to Ballardia II, and finally, FINALLY used.
This is my pathetic looking basement floor, even after its intensive sweeping, scraping, vacuuming, and mopping prep work:

And check this out, the VERY SAME basement floor, after the Rust-Oleum coating:

It really does look that good; I'm pretty sure that even in my mind-altered state that I managed to photograph the right surface.

Despite my frustrations about Truth in Advertising, I'd still use this product again. In the summer. With ALL the windows open.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Home Improvement Workout

I've often made the mistake of substituting an hour at the gym with an hour of working on the house, and this holiday season lots done on the house.

It seems obvious that remodeling is really not equivalent to a good cardio workout, but somehow this fact didn't hit home (pardon the Pun) to me until the scales at Ballard Health Club greeted my return with news of the additional 5.5 pounds that hadn't been attached to my person at the end of November.

I'm sure, of course, that this was the result of my inactivity, because it couldn't possibly be due to holiday parties, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, chocolate peppermintinis, creamy mashed potatoes to die for, prime rib with horseradish cream, the See's candies sent by Martin's cousin (I WILL get even), or Frangos.

After a quick Google search, I was most happy to find an activity calculator at, where I can plug in my weight and activity duration and see how many calories I burn "remodeling". I can even be more specific, as they have categories for laying tile, hanging drywall, gardening, painting, electrical work, carpentry, and building fences, among other things.

Some surprising findings:

  1. painting the outside of the house burns 67% more calories per hour than painting the inside of the house
  2. hanging drywall, carpentry, electrical work, and interior painting all burn the SAME calories per hour
  3. 'professional' electricians and carpenters burn 17% more calories per hour than amateurs
  4. an hour of interior painting burns only 1/3 the calories of an hour on the elliptical trainer.

So it's either 1 hr at the gym or 3 hrs at my to-do list. Hmm. Not an easy choice.