Monday, April 29, 2013

Building Our New Laundry Room

Happy Monday all!  Do you ever feel like you spend Monday- Friday recovering from your weekend?  This past weekend was definitely one that Eric and I are going to need some time to recover from.  We have walked away with a few new bumps and bruises, hands full of blisters and some minor lower back pain, but I am happy to report that we were also able to cross one more to-do off our list. 

Let me back up though.  Last week, I began talking about our road to kitchen remodeling, which included moving our laundry room.  Truth be told, this project actually began months ago with some plumbing work in our basement.  I mentioned that we had plumbing in place, but that wasn't entirely true.  We had the pipes in our cement flooring to do it and a hole for a sewage pump, but no sewage pump system was actually in place (we had to have a pump to push the water up and out to our septic line).  I am not going to go into detail about this step because we are not plumbers.  We did however have a plumber come in after we were done with installation and make sure everything looked good/ up to code.

The large pipe to the left is our radon gas mitigation system.

Up next was some demo.  The new laundry room is located in an unfinished portion of our basement.  Because we do have future plans to finish our basement out completely, we really had to think out our laundry room placement.  We chose about a ten foot stretch of wall that had in ground drain access and unfortunately, drywall in place.  So, the drywall had to come down.

Drywall sure does kick up a lot of dust...

We also re-routed some pipes.  Don't you just love the DIY projects of former homeowners who had no idea what they were doing?  This rats nest in the picture above is actually our water line to our fridge.  We ended up pulling the entire line, straightening it out and re-running it to our fridge (kitchen is located upstairs).

We also built a little wall to enclose some of the plumbing and create more of a room effect for our laundry room. You can see it to the left side of this picture.

With that wall in place, it was time to call in the professionals.  We will do minor plumbing and electric, but this was pretty major stuff.

Two weekends of work later, our plumbing and electric was in place.  Oh, and in the midst of all of this, we decided that we needed a slop sink here as well.   That is why there are so many water lines (the blue tubes).

So, Eric and I sprang back into work putting up our drywall.

In a matter of a couple of hours, the drywall was up and it was time for the most time consuming part of all drywalling projects- taping, mudding and sanding (over and over again).

Mudding and sanding seems like it would be an incredibly easy job, but trust me that it takes some practice.  The key is not rushing it and applying thin coats, which you will then sand the heck out of. 

Drywall is made so that it tappers down at the seams allowing for the tape and mud to level out the wall if done correctly.  We spent three days working on this in hour time frames.  At the end of the three days, we had our perfect wall.  AGAIN- DO NOT RUSH THIS.  We have learned this the hard way (our guest bathroom) and still have to go back and do some drywall fixes. 

I will be back later this week with the final reveal pictures.  I will say though that we did our first load of laundry in the new laundry room last night and it was fabulous!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Check Out Our New Page

Hey all!  I am just checking in real quick to make sure that you notice that we have added a new page.  See up above and to the right- "Our Home"?  Go check it out!  I will make updates to the page as we continue to update our home.  I also plan to do some outdoor photos when I can get some pictures that do not have snow covering everything. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

You may or may not have noticed that in all of my posts I avoid discussing one very important area of our home...  Our kitchen...  This is not because I do not think kitchens are important.  I actually think that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  Rather, denying our kitchens existence is more of a coping mechanism.  You see, our kitchen downright frightens me.  Heck, I think it frightens everyone who steps into our house.  You know it is bad when nearly every month someone (and I am not just talking about family here) sends you a link to a great contest for a free kitchen remodel for the winner of the ugliest kitchen in America.  Yeah, it's that bad.

So, it's time to come clean and lay it all out there.  I give you Exhibits A, otherwise known as our 1970's kitchen:

Okay, so that was not exactly coming entirely clean.  The kitchen was even worse.  Prior to my move in, the kitchen still contained some of the original appliances.

Get ready for it...  Deep breaths... 

My dad likes to joke that this oven belongs in the Smithsonian.  In my dear husbands defence, the appliances still (sort of) worked, which in his mind means that they were still keepers.  I however had other ideas.  I replaced the majority of the appliances prior to even moving into the house.  Yup, appliances were my first official contribution to our home!

So, you may be wondering what our plans are for this monstrosity of a kitchen.  Well, we are taking baby steps. While most people would be tempted to go complete demo style on this kitchen (disposal broke, let's rip out everything), we are taking our time and doing our research.  What we have learned- walls need to come down, more electric needs to be pulled into the house, we need repair some termite damage (the termites have been exterminated- don't worry), etc...  Basically, this is going to be a major remodel. 

In an effort not to completely loose our minds over this, we have created our plan of attack:

1.  Squirrel away a set amount of money every month to put toward this remodel (expected start date is Feb 2014)
2.  Squirrel away an extra 25% over the anticipated remodel cost for "unexpected kitchen issues".  We know we will have these so better to plan for them in advance.
3.  Break some of the kitchen projects off into small manageable chunks that we can work on prior to the big demo.

I am happy to say that one of the small kitchen projects in item #3 is fully underway!  You see, our laundry room is very oddly placed in our house.  Basically it is just a tiny room accessed through our kitchen.  You walk through the kitchen.

And boom, this is what you see.  To the right is our pantry.

Pretty strange, right?  There is just something slightly unsettling about carrying dirty laundry through your kitchen.  On the plus side though, this wall separating our kitchen from laundry is not load bearing.  See where I am going with this?  What we have here folks, is a perfect opportunity for a little kitchen expansion.

So, where to move the laundry room to was our next question.  After some deliberation, we decided that it made perfect sense to make the move to the basement.  This eliminates the worry of a washer hose breaking and flooding not only our kitchen, but also our basement guest bedroom located just below.  We are also lucky enough to already have the plumbing in place for a downstairs bathroom and slop sink- score!

Thus began the great laundry room construction project of 2013!  I will give you the big reveal next week (we have a couple of decorative items to complete), but kitchen progress has begun and I could not be more thrilled!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Final Sprint

I am happy to announce that the Taj Mahal of chicken coops is almost complete!  I am thinking that by this time next week, we will have some final reveal pictures for you.  Of course, the chickens cannot quite move outside yet, but I will be VERY glad to check the coop project off our to do list.

Saturday was spent working on a secret project soon to be revealed and Sunday was devoted to making some coop progress.  Last time that we discussed the coop, we were just starting to get the outdoor run figured out. 

This weekend, we started by adding two more doors to the exterior coop portion.  The little door in front will allow me to grab the outdoor feeders.  We also added a larger top hinged door (seen in pictures further down) which will allow us to get into the coop and clean it out on occasion.

Then it was on to our most important task- fortification.  Based on our online research, we decided that we would dig a 12 inch deep moat around the entirety of the coop.  This would allow us to line the underground exterior with chicken wire, which we hope will keep neighborhood dogs and other animals from being able to dig under our coop and get our precious chickens.

I got it started.

And Eric finished off the final six inches.

At this point, we were reading to start wiring.  Before this though, we got to thinking about what type of wire to use.  Most people go with standard chicken wire, but we were hoping to find something with slightly smaller holes and that seemed "thicker".  We have heard horror stores of chickens sticking their heads out of chicken wire holes when they hear curious sounds (ie. raccoon's prowling).  Not pretty.  So, we started shopping and found our solution with 1/2" hardwire cloth (in 3' x 10' sheets).  

I would like to see a chicken try and get its head through those holes...  We tacked two sheets together with wire cage clips, which we pinched shut with needle nose pliers.

Please excuse my gross hands.  Hardwire cloth is pretty hard on the fingers.
They worked great!  We tacked the hardwire cloth to the boards with simple galvanized wood staples.  

And after a couple of hours, the entire bottom portion of the coop was covered.

At this point, we had storm clouds moving in.  Knowing that we are expecting some rain and snow tonight, we decided that we better get to work back filling dirt.  So we filled in our holes and planted some grass seed in the hopes that the impending moisture will pack down our dirt and get some new grass growing.

I should also mention that I would have loved to have paint all the exterior boards white, but the treated lumber that we used needs a good amount of time to dry out prior to painting. Seeing as how our chickens are huge now, we do not have time to delay their move just so that I can paint.  Oh well, it is still pretty dang cute and I am sure that the chickens will not mind.

So, next weekend we should be able to wrap this project up!  Thank goodness.  I am getting antsy to focus our DIY attention on a new master bathroom!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Recipe to Keep you Warm this... Spring?

Hey all!  Sorry we have been slightly MIA lately.  Between family being in town and dealing with the "great Colorado spring blizzard of 2013" we have been pretty busy.  We promise to get back to you on Monday with some exciting project updates, but until then, here are some pictures to show you our lovely Colorado spring and a recipe to keep you warm on a cold April day.

I bet our chickens are counting their lucky stars that they haven't moved outside to the coop yet.

Speaking of chickens, check out these huge ladies (and pardon Babe the chicks photo bomb).

They are snug as a bug in a rug at a balmy 70 degrees indoors!

Now on to the food portion of today's post!  For those of you who are not aware, years ago I had a fairly popular food blog in which I divulged my healthy recipes and tracked my workout schedules.  Well, times they have changed...  This recipe is not at all healthy, but sooo delicious that it is completely worth it on occasion.  Proceed in making it at the risk that you may become addicted and put on some added "fluff".

Green Chile Cheese Grits

(recipe courtesy of my Mom)

3 cups water
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 cup quick cookin' grits
1/2 cup butter
3 T. green chile, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan bring water, salt and garlic to a boil.  Slowly stir in grits.
Reduce heat; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from heat
Beat the eggs and milk together and add to the grits stirring constantly.  Add butter, 1 cup cheddar and green chile and stir until fully incorporated.
Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Sprinkle with the remaining cheese

**this recipe is supposed to serve six, but trust me that it ends up making more like four big servings


Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Busy Weekend

This weekend was enjoyed with family in town so we scaled back on our usual weekend DIY madness.  Saturday was spent doing a bit of work on the chicken coop.

 Eric's dad has constructed many a coop so we were thrilled to have his input on the construction of the outside portion of our chicken home.

I was in charge of the chicken ladder, which only took about fifteen minutes to make (I like the easy jobs!).

We still have to put in a couple of doors so that we can access the outdoor food and water feeders as well as be able to get in there and clean stuff out.  Once those are done, we will dig down about twelve inches around the entire perimeter and insert chicken wire.  Then we will chicken wire the entire thing and be done!   

Sunday was spent over at the other Baltz homestead, Nathan and Stephanie's house.  They recently got two baby goats and twelve chickens!  The baby goats get into everything and have found every hole in the fencing that Nathan and Stephanie never knew that they had.  So, it was time for some fence reinforcement and chicken wiring.

This was done while trying to avoid getting butted by Lilly, their old cranky goat.  Everyone walked away unscathed except for Eric who took a head butt right to the hip/thigh from Lilly.  Needless to say, Lilly is not Eric's favorite goat anymore...

Sunday evening was time for relaxation back at our house.  We made a nice dinner and got to cuddle up with our our little niece, Quincy.

 Quincy taught her Uncle Eric her new favorite game!  She hides a toy and does baby sign language to say "where?". 

Then the toy is rediscovered and it is all very exciting and cute!

It was another great weekend and I am so glad we got the outdoor chicken coop started.  With up to fifteen inches of snow forecasted during the next three days, that project is going to have to shift onto the back burner for a bit. Welcome to spring in Colorado!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's An Addiction

I am referring to board and batten, of course.  One month ago we didn't even know what board and batten was and now we want to put it EVERYWHERE (would it be going too far to put it inside the chicken coop?).  Eric actually fell victim to the board and batten bug first.  Not even two hours after finishing our original install did he say, "you know, this really should wrap all the way around to our guest bedroom".  So, I gave myself a couple of weeks to mentally recover from the previous board and batten project and then declared it time to get the rest done.

We decided to wrap it from our front door wall shown in the previous post (link above), through our dining room and up to the entryway of our upstairs guest bedroom.  The blue dining room/hall wall is below.

Again, we started by putting up our backer board, which was so much easier this time because one sheet fit across the entire wall rather than having to seam two pieces together.

Then I went to work patching and filling.  I used a combination of painters caulk, wood filler and regular old wall hole filler to get it done. 

Here is everything sanded, primed and ready for paint (by far the most time consuming part of the project).

And this is the final outcome about three hours later!  We just notched out the top rail board a bit for that light switch.


 Now we just need some guest to arrive and see the outcome.  Oh wait, Eric's parents are here this weekend.  Look at that timing!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Field Trip

Hello all!  I hope that you had a fabulous weekend. Ours was busy, busy in preparation for Eric's parents visiting this weekend.  The goal was to finish up existing projects and attempt not to create any new projects in the meantime, which is sometimes hard for us...

I will recap the finished up projects later this week, but would much rather tell about the fun stuff!  The chickens went on their first field trip to the garden!  We were planting our peas and lettuce when it dawned on me that it was plenty warm for the chickens to join us.  We locked up Chloe and let them run!

 Freedom!!!!!   And Worms!!!!!

You will notice that one chicken (Buttercup) is absent from the pictures.  It is because she well, turned into a completed "chicken", and wouldn't come out of the Rubbermaid bin.  The garden is apparently a VERY scary place...  The other chickens loved it though.  I meanwhile was on neighborhood dog and bird of prey watch (already an anxiety ridden mother).

We also got the chicken coop moved out to the backyard!

In preparation, we dug some holes and put concrete blocks in the bottom.  We went this route versus cementing the legs into the ground so that we can take the coop with us if we ever decide to relocate in the future.  With as much work as we have put into this thing, we are not leaving it behind.

The moving part was a bit hairy though.  Eric built the most structurally sound coop ever and in the process made it approximately 500+ pounds (no worries about the wind blowing this coop over).  As some of his friends were coming over for poker on Friday night, we thought it the perfect time to move that coop.  It went something like this, "Hey, welcome to our house.  Oh, by the way, we have a 500+ pound coop that we need help moving (in the dark) before poker starts".  I felt bad- it nearly killed them.  So bad in fact that I made them all a cake to enjoy as a piece offering.  Sorry friends (if you are still our friends?).

Steady. Pivot. Break.

But boy does it look nice now that it is outdoors.  Now we just have to finish the outdoor portion and once it warms up a bit more, the chickens will be able to take residence.

We also switched out our old squeaky storm door.


The glass slides down to allow for a screen in the top portion, which I cannot wait to take advantage of this summer.  But here is a perfect example of one project creating another.  With all that glass, it is now incredibly apparent that we need to re-stain the front door.  Add that to the list- it never ends.