Thursday, April 17, 2014

Buck Butt

Yeah, if that title doesn't draw you in I don't know what will.

This comes from the "I crack myself up" files.  When my contractor dudes were here switching the fridges, Jeff saw all my painting stuff and asked if I've ever painted a white-tailed buck.  I said no.  And then couldn't stop thinking about it.  I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like if, for instance, I decided to paint a white-tailed buck.  I searched online for a reference photo and ...


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One Man's Treasure...

The weather has been crazy around here.  It got cleverly warm and snow was melting by the boatload.  Which means we have been finding lots of ... oddities in the yard.

Aw, how cute.  But what the hell is it?

Aw, how NOT cute.  This pile of "treasure" was all over the yard, under the snow.  And actually, it's only a small part of the original pile - back in January we had a few warm days; some snow melted, and we hauled out everything that wasn't frozen to the ground.  But on Monday, it was over 70 degrees out.  At one point I was wearing running shorts and tall rubber garden boots.  I was the height of spring fashion.  Mom and I took down the basketball hoop that for some reason was hanging in a tree out by the road, in the woods, where there is absolutely zero room to bounce a basketball.  I also made this...

...while ripping down a wall:

I'm guessing the previous owner put it up to get some privacy between their side of the property and the apartment where they had tenants.  The "wall" was made from two layers of vinyl siding screwed to rotting posts.  It was butt ugly.  Now it's gone.

So it was in the '70s, and last night it snowed.  Crazy weather, yeah?  I've got an icicle tree growing by the garage.


Backtracking to sometime last week, this was my side yard:

I took the picture from my bedroom window.  During the winter that never ended, the snow was up to the top of that red fence.  Last week a lot had melted, but see my foot prints?  That snow was still up to my knees.  Just past the patch of green grass the property drops down to a stream (which is more like a roaring brook right now), and to the left of the bare grass is the pile of slate I mentioned in a previous post.  I hoofed out there to take a look and brought a piece inside.  The idea I wanted to try turned into this:

Cool.  I wanted to use this piece for a horizontal painting, but it had those two little holes at one end so this is how it ended up.  Ann thinks the slate might be roofing shingles but they are all different sizes.  When my yard drains and is no longer a swamp I will bring the whole pile over to the house so I can see what is there.

On the renovation front, I have one very important thing to say:  it's all about the little things.

Like power tools.  Especially cute power tools.  Now I can add extra shelves to my cabinets.  The uppers are 36" high rather than 30", but they only came with one shelf so I took the shelf out of all the base cabinets and added them to the uppers.  But I really despise the clips that came with these buggers, and the holes in the cabinets are not 1/4" like all of the clips at the hardware store.  Hence, power tools.  I drilled the holes bigger so the clips fit, and voila.  Done deal.

Yes, I still have to paint the doors and drawers.  It's driving my mother crazy.  I will get there.  The painter's tape is still up because I haven't painted the undersides of the uppers.  And I've got a ton of touch up to do, but that didn't stop me from a little decorating.

Remember, it's the little things.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Week in Review

It was 54 degrees on Monday morning.


Oh yes it was.  I was half awake, thinking about how cold it felt while also "dreaming" about a huge remodel project that was in a room that looked like a giant version of the 4-5-6 room at Sherburne Elementary School.  A guy had just walking into all the chaos carrying a leather frame and the acrylic I had ordered to fit it, and he wanted to charge me $1,700.00 for the acrylic rather than the $50.00 he had originally quoted.  I was pissed.  And I was yelling at him.  Then my mom, who was visiting for the weekend (for real, not in the dream) said, "Christine.  It's 54 degrees in here."  Sure enough the furnace had given itself the night off.  What do I know from furnaces, but I found a blinking green light and a label about a "lock-out" something-or-other and a red button to push.  So I pushed it.  Furnace came back on.  Heat started to trickle out.  We were happy.  Cold, but happy.

So that was Monday.

Tuesday I was up to my eyeballs in polyurethane.  Jeff called to see when I would be ready for countertop installation, and we agreed on Friday.  The clock was officially ticking.  To follow-up on where we left off last time, my mom and I picked up the big piece of countertop at Morrisville Lumber on Saturday.  It was not nearly as heavy as they led me to believe, so I was able to carry it myself, I just needed a bigger vehicle.  I did fix my stain issue - turns out if you put some paint thinner on a cloth and wipe the crap out of the overly-stained item, the excess comes right off.  That was good.  Over the weekend I put the one coat of stain on the underside of the rest of the counters, then stained the tops with two coats.  I did a better job with the stain this time.  Practice makes perfect.  Or, in my case, practice makes ... better than the first time.

Anyway, Tuesday was poly day.  I read about all of the choices on the Minwax website, and chose Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.  **side note**  I really really wanted to use a green product that is made here in Vermont by a company called Vermont Natural Coatings.  It's called PolyWhey and it's made from -- yep -- whey.  Check out their website here.  I liked the idea of using a green product, especially one made here in Vermont, but mostly I liked the humor in using a cheese byproduct.  I went with the Spar Urethane instead because it was much less expensive, and it seemed like it would be way more durable (no pun intended).

The underside of the counters all got one coat of poly on Monday, but the tops were getting three coats.  Since sandpaper is my friend, I followed the directions and used 220 grit to sand down the dust bumps after that first coat, but it looked like I was scratching the finish.  I threw caution to the wind and applied the second coat, hoping for the best.  Then I went to the hardware store and got some 320 grit sandpaper, just in case.  (I spend more time at that hardware store than some of the people who work there.)  Second coat dried, I lightly sanded it with the 320, then on went the third coat.  Maybe that part happened on Wednesday - now I can't remember.  The days all blended in to each other this week.

Except Wednesday.  What a perfectly beautiful day.  I had Thin Mints for breakfast.  I got a lot of stuff done next door.  Roxie and I went for a 2.5 mile walk in 50+ degree weather under beautiful blue skies.  And I finished another painting.  Here is a poodle, resting in the sun after our walk.

And here is my attempt to recreate my wabi sabi winter painting.  This one is called "Snow Melts Into Spring."

But back to the poly story.  When the third coat had dried I wasn't sure what to do about the not-smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom finish.  It felt more like a baby's bottom with diaper rash.  So back we went to the Minwax website and I found a little video showing the Minwax genius guy talking about finishing wood.  He said dust is going to settle on the wet surface - nothing you can do about it - but to sand with 220 between coats (he even mentioned that it will look like you are scratching the finish) and then wet sand with 600 grit paper and lemon oil after the final coat.  This knocks down the dust bumps without removing any of the finish.  So guess where I went?  Back to the hardware store for 600 grit paper and lemon oil.  And let me tell you, those countertops are SMOOOOOOOOOOTH.  They are not perfect, but they are wicked SMOOOOOOOOOTH.  And they look awesome.  My contractor dudes are next door right this very minute installing them (time at the tone is 10:32am).

What else.  Over the course of the week I also filled the nail holes in the door and window casings in the kitchen, sanded it all down, spot primed the knots with BIN (which is shellac based and stinks like hell, but is supposed to be the best primer for covering knots), primed all the pine with BIN once the first bits were dry, painted one coat of semi-gloss white on the trim, finished priming and put three coats of blue on the two base cabinets that were naked, primed and put two coats of blue on the cabinet bits above the sink, fridge and around the microwave and the sides of the cabinets next to the pantry door and the sides of the cabinets that will be hidden by the fridge.  While I had the white latex paint out I also, finally, painted those last two parts of the beadboard in the bathroom.  I'm going to be painting over there forever.  I still need to paint the toe kicks and all the doors and drawers.  Plus the baseboards.  I should have done those while I had the white paint out, but I didn't.  I only painted the white trim because I realized the piece of countertop next to the pantry will be flush up against the door trim, so I needed to paint that trim before this morning.


(this denotes the passing of time)


My contractor dudes swapped the two fridges and are done; here is how the kitchen looks now (time at the tone is 1:37pm):

How awesomely cool is that?  I'm never going to use this kitchen because I don't want to wreck it, although you can see all the spots where I need to finish painting, touch up paint, scrape off excess paint... and I still need some crown moulding on the wall above the door.  And remember that logistical error I mentioned?  It is here.

This sticky-out wall (that's a technical term) used to have a cabinet in front of it, on the kitchen side, with a (broken) tiled top.  We ripped that sucker out the day we unloaded the moving truck.  I was going to take this little wall down entirely, but Ann suggested I use it to get more counter space.  Awesome.  It overhangs the kitchen side of the wall by about an inch, and that one inch is my problem.

I will never be able to remove that drawer.  It opens and closes fine, but to remove it entirely you need to tilt it way up to get the little wheels to clear the tracks.  If I had thought of this when the cabinets were being installed, they could have compensated by putting some filler at this end of the cabinet run.  But no.  I wasn't that smart.


At least I thought about it before they installed the peninsula top -that baby is screwed down through the top and the screws are covered by plugs.  Which is why I have yet to stain and finish the top and sides.  I was going to stain it and just leave the plugs a natural color - that would have looked cool - but I wasn't sure how the installation was going to go so I decided to wait.  Good thing I did - I need to sand down a couple of the plugs, and throw some wood putty around a third one.  Stain, poly and lemon oil are on the agenda for this weekend.  Woo hoo!  I'm also going to paint the rest of the drawers.  Three coats of primer, three coats of blue....  Sand, sand, sand.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Make the world more awesome

You absolutely must go here and watch all of the Kid Snippets videos.  They are videos scripted by little kids and acted out by adults with the kid voices dubbed in.  They.  Are.  So.  Funny.  Almost as good as Kid President.  He's on the SoulPancake youtube channel.  Start with this one to get the back story, then jump to A Pep Talk from Kid President.  All of that - it's your homework assignment.  Plan to spend some quality time.  Trust me when I say it is worth it.

So, remember when I showed you a picture of the painting that made me feel like a grown up?  The tree piece with a dark red background?  I did something even better.  This is what I did to make the world more awesome:

I named it "wabi sabi winter" and it is the first painting I almost left unvarnished because it looked cool that way.

Can you see the difference?  The texture is more apparent in the unvarnished version, which I liked, but ultimately I gave in to my love of shiny things.  I don't know if I can paint anything else like this - I've got the background on another panel painted and I will try to add the rest tomorrow.  It may be a disaster, but it may be a.w.e.s.o.m.e.r.  Stay tuned.

In the "I was just messing around to see if the idea I thought of in the middle of the night while I couldn't sleep" department, here is a winter tree on a canvas with the sides painted, so it will not require a frame:

Hmmm.  I've got another idea that involves the pile of slate outside at the edge of the yard, but I need to wait for the snow to melt before I try that one.  Which means I could be waiting until September, at the rate we are going.  I heard the plow go by very early this morning and I got up to find a good two inches of fresh stuff, with more coming down in a big fluffy mess.  Now it is raining.  The forecast claims we are going to hit 47 degrees by middle of next week, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Nothing much else new around here, except for this:

Ooooh, countertops.  They are not blemish free, and I think I was a bit over zealous with the stain, which is an issue I believe I can remedy with some mineral spirits - I will find out in a minute - but they are going to be wicked cool.  Hopefully my sister will go with me to pick up the biggest of the five pieces tomorrow when she comes over.  I was hoping someone would deliver it to me this week so I could get started on the staining process (which involves a pre-stain conditioner and then one coat of stain on the underside, then the pre-stain conditioner and two coats of stain on the top and sides, then one or two coats of poly on the underside, then three coats of poly on the tops and sides).  I discovered a logistical error in my countertop calculations, which I will explain at a later date when I have photos to use as a visual aid.  I've got the first coat of primer on all the unfinished cabinet and filler bits in the kitchen and hope to be finished with the next two coats of primer and three coats of paint by Tuesday.  Confession time:  I should have the third coat of primer done by now, but I got distracted by those darn Kid Snippets.  Oops.

The bathroom is in the home stretch.  I painted the walls last night/today!  Woo hoo!  Two little bits of beadboard need a slap of white paint, then all the raw pine needs to be primed and painted, the skylight needs one more coat of primer then some white paint, Matt needs to come back and install the vanity light, then at some point I will repaint the window trim and the door.  BOOM.  It will be done.  This is where we are right now:

That's a pale purple on the wall.  It's actually called Winter Gray.  I can't believe how different it looks in there.  The water has been hooked up for a week but I'm afraid to flush the toilet.  What if it leaks, like the old one did?  Maybe we should have tested that before putting the kitchen back together.  Actually, I'm sure they tested it when they installed it, and I've got total faith in Dean's plumbing ability, but still....

Okay, I have a quick date with some mineral spirits.  And you've got a date with some youtube videos  Then we all need to go make the world more awesome.

Rock and roll.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Who, Me?

She swears she didn't do it.  I think the guilty look gives her away.

Things are slowing down in the remodel department.  My contractor dudes were going to spend Friday shaving down the countertops so they fit in my wonky kitchen, but the countertops weren't finished yet.  And I'm hearing a rumor that nobody wants to cut the opening for my undermount sink.  Hmmm.  Not happy about that news.  Other than the countertops, we're down to the nitty gritty in the kitchen - some kind of tiny crown moulding so you can't see where the beadboard sort-of-but-not-really meets the ceiling; vertical trim down the corners of the walls (the pokey-out walls, not the pokey-in walls.  Got it?); something like 1/4" plywood to finish off the undersides of the bridge cabinets.  I have to stain and seal the countertops once they are cut to fit, and prime/paint a bunch of cabinets -- the two base cabinets that were damaged in delivery, the toe kicks and the filler Jeff needed to make everything fit.  I also need to prime and paint all the new window and door casings, plus the baseboards.  Oh, and all the sides of the cabinets that show, like below the sides of the microwave.  All of this will be a pain in the butt.

The kitchen looks awesome, doesn't it?  Matt, the electrician, was here after I took these pictures.  I now have a completed outlet for the fridge and the light switches have been reinstalled.  He also swapped out that ugly fixture in the pantry for me, and put in a recessed light.  He will be back sometime this week to finish.

Upstairs in the bathroom, Jeff and Erin built me some wicked cool trim to cap off the beadboard.

Fancy pants.  I've got a lot of raw pine to prime and paint in here.

This is where the stacked washer/dryer used to be.  The washer/dryer that didn't work.  The washer/dryer that spewed water all over me and then leaked down through the kitchen ceiling.  Now it's a beautiful bunch of open space.  That needs lots of paint.

And this picture is proof that white comes in many different colors.  The bathtub looks almost pink!  I'm not complaining one bit because guess what.  It's brand new.  And that's all that matters.

Since these pictures were taken I have put the first coat of primer on the skylight and painted the ceiling.  The skylight will end up sparkling white.  The ceiling is a color called ... hmmm ... Gray Lake, I think.  It's what I used in the two bedrooms, and what I'm going to use everywhere for consistency; Jeff painted my kitchen ceiling with it before they installed the upper cabinets.  I am not a fan of flat paint, so it's a satin finish with very little color to it.  It's going to need two coats - the ceiling in there was gross.  I went crazy with my caulk gun and filled all the nail holes in the new pine, and a couple other things that perhaps were not meant to be caulked so I won't tell you what they were.  I also patched that hole right above the sink faucet, and threw some mud and tape over that weird drywall seam that used to be hidden behind the mirror.  You can almost see that Matt pulled the new wiring up and installed the box for my vanity light.  He also, by the way, told me I did a fine job swapping out the overhead light.  He took it down so I could paint the ceiling and so he could figure out why only half of it was working.

Speaking of electricians, I channeled my dad today and moved the thermostat over here in the trailer.  I'm guessing that the previous owners moved it from its original spot when they hauled in a huge china cabinet and needed to claim that wall space.  When they moved it, however, they just spliced on another bunch of wire and ran it along the wall to the new spot.  So when they hauled that huge china cabinet out of here, the old-meets-new wires, held together with some electrical tape, were exposed.  I didn't think it looked that great.  Matt told me I wouldn't electrocute myself if I touched the wires, so I ripped the "moulding" that was "hiding" the wires off the wall, unhooked the thermostat from the new wires and reinstalled it in its original location with the old wires.  I didn't even turn off a breaker or anything -- HA!

What else.  Oh, here is what I painted on the first day of Spring.  To honor the change of seasons.

Yep, a winter tree.  It has snowed here every day since the first day of Spring.  I had to buy a pint-sized garden spade and finagle my way over behind the five foot tall pile of snow at the back of my house and shovel a bunch of it away from the window.  More snow was ready to slide off the roof and I was afraid all the pressure would crack the window.  I am seriously ready for some warmer weather.  Today on facebook my friend Robin posted about doing yard work, and yesterday Derek texted me a picture of the front window at Frame of Reference - there was no snow in evidence and the sun was shining.  Enjoy it while you can, people - I'm sending snow your way!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Water Water Everywhere

Nope, not a flood.  As of this morning I've got running water in my bathroom again.  Woo hoo!  Last night it looked like this:

This.  Is.  Crazy.  The bathroom looks huge now, which is weird because when it was totally empty it looked tiny.  I can't wait to get rid of that awful blue paint, but that is last on the list.  Dean thinks today they can cut the hole for the vanity light (he said Matt - the electrician - centers the light on the faucet, which was just installed yesterday) and mud the wall.  Maybe that means Matt is coming back today.  He can fix the ceiling light fixture I swapped out over the weekend.  I wasn't quite channeling my inherited electrician gene and I've been waiting for sparks to fly and the house to burn down.  We won't talk about how I managed to drop one of the wee small pieces down the toilet pipe.  Yes, I did.  Of course I did.  But no need to mention it here.

Moving on.

Is it wrong to soften butter by putting it on a floor heat register?  Just wondering.

Remember the gold frames I mentioned the other day?  The ones I'm having a hard time finding a use for?  Did I mention they remind me of a giraffe?  Here's an awkward painting for an awkward frame:

Yessirree, I think this is the start of the Questionable Pile, Vermont Edition.  I was thinking spring, and trying to find something that works with this color of gold and that won't be overwhelmed by the gold texture.  I don't know, maybe it will grow on me.

Heh heh.

That was funny.

I had an idea that I thought was going to be awesome, but the execution of which may have resulted in a hot mess.  It still needs a second coat of varnish, and is much better in real life, but this painting is called "I Love You Like Sugar on Snow."

Twice I had to scrape and scrub all that red paint off - if you look in my garbage you would think someone had a serious industrial accident around here.  Curiously enough, at some point I noticed I was leaving bloody fingerprints all over my house - hence the band aid on my finger in this picture - so I guess someone DID have an industrial accident.  No idea how it happened, and not even sure when.  The excitement level around here is obviously so high I don't even notice when I cut the crap out of my finger.

Here is a better (I think) picture of my favorite painting from the other day.  I am going to name it Golden Girls:

Again, it is better in real life.

I am softening butter on my heat register because I'm going to make chocolate cherry cookies.  Partly because I am craving something sweet, and partly to feed my contractor dudes.  Maybe other people who have lived through a remodel that involved professional help don't get as thrilled by the little things, like new kitchen cabinets that DO look all snug and cozy in a crooked space, and running water in a brand new bathtub, but I am very appreciative.  The least I can do - besides pay them the big bucks - is stuff them full of sugar.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Funday Monday

And so it begins, another week of getting up early.  But this time, I have a good reason.  There were contractor dudes next door today.  Woo hoo!  Progress is happening in bits and pieces, but so far I have a bathtub in my bathroom again (a much prettier and brand new bathtub).  I've got a kitchen door, window and pantry door trimmed out again.  I think I also have a few of the base cabinets installed, which is great except I really wanted to paint the two big ones before they got installed, and those were the two broken cabinets.  They are fixed now, but I didn't get to paint them....  I'm also a little worried about how everything is going to line up.  Remember, there is not a single straight line in my little crooked house, including walls, ceiling and floor.  So I don't think I'm going to end up with a bunch of level cabinets that look like one solid piece.  I think I am going to have wonky gaps between them.  I hope not, but we shall see.

I DID paint a crap ton of other stuff today, tho.  See?

Busy, busy, busy.  But first, I decided the other day I am not going to paint anything except flowers until the snow melts, so I ended up with this:

I like it.  It's bright and perky.  Looks even better in a dark frame.

Then I painted another one, which is ... meh.  It's okay.

I'm trying to paint something that will work in some gold photo frames I got at the tradeshow in Vegas, and this painting is not it.  So last night I painted the background of another panel in a dark brown.  I finished that one today, but haven't taken its picture yet.  Nothing exciting there.  Then, while digging through a bunch of miscellaneous paper today, I found this old thing:

Somehow these trees made me think of fall (wait - it's not even officially spring yet!) and away we went on a tangent.

And my favorite of the day, the one that makes me feel like a grown up, is this next one.  As soon as the varnish dries I will get better pictures.  I was afraid to carry it around too much because it would be just my luck that I drop it face down and spend the rest of the night picking carpet fuzz out of the varnish.  That would absolutely happen to me.


The appliance delivery guys were here late this afternoon.  I didn't open the boxes - hope they didn't bring me a dishwasher by accident.

Yesterday I found Roxie sitting in my blue chair, with her head resting on the chair arm, contemplating the five foot tall pile of snow out the back window.

That stuff better start melting soon - spring is this week!  And yes, it really is a five foot tall pile.  When it slides off my roof it sounds like an avalanche.

Lastly, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, here is my Chinese fortune:


P.S.  I just checked next door and those base cabinets are NOT installed yet, so I'm going to slap a coat of primer on the back and sides tonight.  That will make me feel better, and it's all about me me me.  Because, you know, why not?