Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's A Bird. It's a Plane. Nope, it's Falling Attic Insulation

We're back for day two of our master bath remodel.  Being at work is rough this week because I am just so antsy to be working non-stop on that bathroom.  I want to get it done now, but know that it will realistically take a couple of months (we do have full time jobs to keep up with).

On Monday, I left off with our demolition discovery of our shower/ toilet area ceiling needing to be replaced.  I should mention, that many would probably be content to wipe the ceiling down with bleach, patch the drywall and then paint over this mess.  I however, do not like messing around when it comes to mold and feel like if we are going to fix something, we might as well do it right.  So, day two of bathroom work involved tearing down our ceiling.  Before we started ripping it out though, we made a quick trip up to the attic to move as much insulation off of this portion of the ceiling as possible.  Even still, it was a huge mess.

In the process of doing this, we noticed that our old recessed lights (which we had already planned to replace) we not supported by anything.  They were essentially just sitting on top of the drywall- what the heck was wrong with our previous houses owners?  Knowing that this wasn't a suitable install, I made a quick trip to Home Depot and bought all new equipment including the tension bars to attach the recessed lighting to the ceiling joists.  I should mention that if you are installing recessed lighting, please do your research.  In our case, we had to make sure that everything was IC rated, meaning that the light housing would not start our attic insulation on fire.

Install was surprisingly easy and took less than thirty minutes for two.  I am not going into detail on this because we are not electricians.

Good old up the nose shot

The next step was to cut out the new ceiling.  In this case, we chose to use moisture resistant drywall and cut the ceiling from one large sheet.  Although this makes install slightly more difficult (because it is heavy to hold up), it also means that there are less seams to tape.

This is the point in the project where I just back away and let Eric measure and cut.  I try to measure, but for whatever reason my measurements are never correct.  Maybe it is a girl thing, or a patience thing.  Who knows?  Anyway, Eric had this sheet of drywall cut out and ready to go in no time.  Then came the hard part.  Hard because I had to hold up this sheet of drywall (while standing on a ladder) while Eric sunk some screws in as fast as humanly possible.  It was the longest 15 minutes (just kidding, it was more like one minute) of my life.  Afterward, we had this:

Oh blue ceiling, you make me so happy.  Let me tell you, it is incredibly unnerving to stand in your master bath and be able to see into your attic.  For the three hours that we had a huge gaping hole in our ceiling, I was not a happy camper.

From there, we had about an hour of work time left (before it was 5pm beer time) and we decided to go ahead and get the skylight drywall installed too.

So, that concluded weekend one of the bathroom install.  I think it was pretty successful.  This weekend we have to get the hardy-backer installed on the floor and the shower lip constructed.  Our vanity and counter top should be ready in about three weeks so it is time to get going on our floor tile.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Demolition Derby

Hello!  I am happy to announce that we have survived our weekend of bathroom demolition.  But before we get to that, I must interrupt our regularly scheduled program to announce that one of our chickens laid an egg!!!!

On Friday evening, I noticed some odd behavior from our chicken "Babe".  She didn't want to go out into the yard with the rest of the hens and was just sitting in the corner of the coop.  I called Eric over because I knew what this meant and sure enough, about five minutes later we had an egg!

To say that we were excited would be the understatement of the century.  I even ran over to our neighbors house (interrupting her dinner) to tell her the news.  When you raise chickens from babies, it just seems like such a miracle when they suddenly lay an egg.  We were like proud parents!

It is a mini egg, which you can tell from the picture where I placed it next to a store bought large egg and a quarter.
Anyway, like any crazy chicken people, we spent the next couple of hours deliberating how to prepare and eat the egg.  After much consideration, we went with over easy.

Yum, yum!!!  I cannot wait for more.

Sorry for that little detour, lets get back to demo.  Demolition is typically touted as being the fun part of the remodel process, but for me it is a double-edged sword.  On one hand, you can be destructive and take out your aggression, but on the other, you also typically find projects that you had not anticipated.  Now, I had mentally prepared myself to find a few of these, but my guess was not on the money as to where this would come from.

Let me back up though.  Eric and I got up bright and early Saturday morning looking forward to getting this project started.  In two hours, we about had the bathroom cleared.

We were able to demo the shower tile in large sheets, which made life pretty easy and we were cruising along. Side note- I thought for sure that we would find terrible mold damage behind the shower, but I was wrong and the shower was actually properly constructed- a DIY miracle.

To demo the tile floor, we just laid down an old towel and pounded the tile into dust (the towel protects from shrapnel, but we still wore goggles and masks).

At this point, we were feeling pretty good and decided to take a lunch break.  All that we had left was to remove the wood paneling on the ceiling of the toilet/ shower area of the bath and we would be ready to start reconstruction!

As I hinted at earlier though, this is where we found the unexpected additional work.

 First of all, the boards were glued to the ceiling so removal took some elbow grease.  We also quickly found mold damage.  The boards essentially created little pockets between the wood and drywall for mold to grow.  After some deliberation, we decided that the entire ceiling needed to be replaced; due to mold but also due to the drywall damage associated with pulling of the wood paneling.

So, you now can see the enormity of this project setback...  We would have to completely rip out the ceiling and replace it while trying not to dump all of our attic insulation into our bathroom.  Included in this replacement would also be new recessed lighting and alterations to the skylight.  It was a bit daunting.

With this setback, we decided to clean up for the day and cut our losses.  We still had a full Sunday ahead of us and we thought it best to just get mess cleaned up and get back on track.

I will be back later this week with recessed lighting install and drywall replacement.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Wait is Over

Since the moment that Eric's house became "our home" I have been chomping at the bit to remodel the master bathroom.  With original 1970's fixtures, envisioning an upgrade does not require much imagination, but there are other less obvious issues in here as well like the vanity being super low. Plus, feeling dirtier after your shower (due to mold and lime inside it) then when you got in is not normal.  To be perfectly honest no amount of cleaning was going to make this bathroom an enjoyable place to be.  Hence, our major bathroom overhaul.
In an ideal world, the bathroom would be completely demoed, walls would be moved and we would get a beautiful open master bath.  But, we went into this project knowing a couple things- this isn't our forever home and we do not want to over-improve for our neighborhood.  So, on a $7,500.00 budget, we plan to make over this room.

 Here is a bit of a recap of what we are starting with:

Carpet in a bathroom.  Need I say more?

The shower doors run off track constantly and the lime deposits are permanent (trust me, I have tried every cleaning product on the market).

Check out that vanity!

Can you see why I have been dying to demo?  Here's what we have in mind for the new bathroom.

A new vanity to match the one in our guest bathroom.  This is the mock-up from Home Depot.  With this vanity, we will have much more storage space and our sinks will be slightly closer together.

This is the cabinet color for the vanity and our new counter top sample.  The counter top is quartz and the color is River Shoal.  

Tile- The subway tile and strip of accent tile will go in our shower.  We will have custom frameless glass doors made for the shower.  The river rock "tile" square is our shower floor and the tile in the background is a light grey porcelain tile for our floor.  Finally, there is a paint swatch for our wall color.  Basically, we are keeping it neutral, a bit modern and just clean looking.

 Hardware- we are going with the brushed nickle Pasadena collection from Home Depot.  The towel bar and faucets can be seen below.  I have chosen a 8" spread for the sink faucet because our sinks will be 22" wide undermounts and this is a huge vanity.  We have the space and I thought that we might as well go for some dramatic hardware.

Pfister Pasadena 8 in. Widespread 2-Handle High-Arc Bathroom Faucet in Brushed Nickel

Toilet- We wanted to get the exact Toto Aquia toilet that we have in our guest bath, but it is out of stock from the vendor.  Instead, we went with the Kohler Persuade, which looks just the same and has the same specifications.
KOHLER Persuade 2-Piece 1.6 GPF Dual Flush Elongated Toilet in White 
So, there it is.  Demo starts this weekend and we cannot wait!  Eric already mentioned that he probably needs to get his sledge hammer handle repaired, to which I replied "what do you think you are going to be using the sledge hammer on?".  Clearly, I will have to keep an eye on the demo at all times...

We will keep you posted on budget breakdowns, but here is where we are at so far:

Tile- $675.00 (floor and shower)
Toilet and toilet cover- $409.00
Custom vanity- $1736.00
Vanity top and sinks- $1965.00

We still have the miscellaneous supplies to get like drywall, baseboards, etc...  Other big expenses include the shower doors and the customer shower pan that will have to be done by a tile professional.  I am still crossing my fingers though to stay on budget.  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

They Grow Up So Fast

The chickens will reach a major milestone this weekend- five months of age.  This may seem pretty arbitrary to the city dwelling individual, but to chicken folks this is a huge event.  You see, at between five and six month of age, chickens start laying eggs.  We cannot wait!  I have been hording egg based recipes, we have saved tons of egg cartons and we are ready for some good, rich egg eating.

So, here is a little update on our feathery babies.

First, we have changed up the chickens diet a bit.  At 16 weeks of age, we switched them over to a layer feed from chick feed.  Layer feed contains additional calcium, which helps when we are talking eggs.  We want strong egg shells that do not break when they drop from the chicken.  If we find that their egg shells are still too week, we will add some oyster shells to their diet.

We also started introducing grit to the chickens diet.  Grit is little rocks (ours are granite) that the chickens eat.  Weird, right?  Well, it all makes sense when you realize that chickens do not have teeth.  They need something to break up their food, so the rocks are used in their tummies to grind up food.

With free range chickens, you do not have to worry about this so much because the chickens will find little rocks in your yard to eat.  Our chickens predominantly stay in their coop though so we have to supplement with this.  Also, grit is not generally necessary if you are just feeding your chickens chicken feed.  We however, feed our chickens our table scraps as well so they need the grit.

Finally, we have added a treat to their diet (in addition to their favorite avocado and banana rations) in the way of scratch.  Scratch is a mixture of corn and grains that the chickens absolutely go nuts for.  Corn heats up chickens though so it is better as a winter snack than as a summer one.

Food does a body good!  Check out the size of these chickens.

They clearly know where the food comes from.  If any human walks by the coop, they come running up to you.

So, here's hoping that we have some eggs to debut soon.  We need to make a couple of updates to our nesting boxes before they start laying (they currently like to kick all of the hay out so we need a higher lip at the front of the boxes).  Our fake egg is in place though as a training tool to show the chickens where they should lay.

We will keep you updated!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Talk To The Animals

Last weekend was quite the novel experience for us.  We actually spent a weekend in town and did not do any house projects.  The horror.  Instead, we opted for some fun time.  On Saturday, we had some friends over for a BBQ, which was promptly rained out.  All I kept thinking was, thank goodness I cleaned our floors well because with limited seating and table space, folks were forced to have picnics on our living room floor.  You win some and you loose some, right?  It was still fun though!

On Sunday, Eric and I took a little field trip to one of my new favorite Colorado destinations- The Wild Animal Sanctuary.  I am an animal lover through and through, so nothing gets me more fired up then hearing about poorly treated animals.  This sanctuary rescues animals from all over the world that are neglected/ abused and puts them into the lap of luxury.

The best part about it is that you walk on these sky bridges over the animals!

All photos below courtesy of The Wild Animal Sanctuary website.
So cool!  The bears were Eric's favorite!

I am a big fan of the wolves because they remind me of my childhood dog!

There were tons of tigers and lions too!

If you go, you definitely want to get there right when they open or an hour or two before they close.  The animals go into their dens during the heat of the day.  We were there by 10AM on a cool day and it was also feeding day so we got to see tons of animals.  It was just such a heartwarming and educational experience. It was nothing like going to a zoo where you feel a bit bad for the animals all caged up.

The rest of our Sunday was spend lazing around.  We read, worked in the garden a bit and played with the chickens.  It was glorious.  Now, it is back to the weekly grind and the countdown until the weekend once again.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Growing Some Big Guns

I am happy to say that this may in fact be our very last post about outdoor landscaping projects (crossing my fingers). We are slowing down on yard work and gearing up for our huge master bath overhaul.  While we still have many more yard updates we would like to do, we are pretty content to stop at this point and wait until next year to continue in our yard beautification quest.

So, without further ado, I give you our 5 tons of rock yard makeover.  Yes, I said five tons...  That is a lot of shoveling and we grew some extra muscles.  But, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  If you remember, about 2 months ago, we had a back corner of our yard that looked like this:

Lord help us, that was a mess.
Luckily, my parents came into town and proceeded to work for four days straight to help clean our yard up. Afterward, this corner looked like this:

I knew this wouldn't stay looking nice for the long haul; there was tons of grass just waiting to pop up in that bed.  So, we set out to make this transformation more permanent by adding landscaping fabric and some good old local river rock.

We started by digging up anything else that was "pokey" in the bed, rolled out some professional grade landscaping fabric and then began the rock shoveling process.

It's quite the workout!

2.5 tons of rock later, this bed was looking good!

We did relocate some junipers because they were not loving their original home.
Big change from this jungle, right?

I am so thrilled with it.  Double bonus-not only does it look a million times better, but there are now less snake hiding places in our yard.  Score!

But why would we stop there when we have other jungles in our yard?  Suddenly, my answer to all unruly places in our yard became, weed barrier and rock.  I was somehow able to get Eric on board with this plan to!  So, the first thing that we did when we returned home from Albuquerque last weekend was to attack another overgrown bed.

Here it was in the beginning:

Mess, right?  Eric basically just throws all of his garden weeds into this strip of yard because it is out of the way and well, ugly.  I avoid this corner of the yard because I have seen multiple snakes there. Cut to 12 hours and another 2.5 tons of rock later though and we had this!

Wahoo!!!!  Yes, it is a bit bare (we only left one plant and a couple of raspberry bushes), but in my mind bare can be good.  Especially when we have so many other areas of the yard to maintain.

So, there you go.  Our yard has made some major progress this year and so have we!  We now know how to landscape beds and pick appropriate plants.  Next year's plan is to get the bark out of some remaining beds and rock them as well.  We would also like to add a pergola to our deck and plant some more grass seed.  Until then though, I am quite content and love spending time out back.  After months of hard yard work, it's time to sit back, relax and enjoy our newly transformed yard!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

One Step Leads to Another

Just as with every other home project that we have done, re-staining our deck made some other deficiencies very apparent.  Our deck looked beautiful, so beautiful in fact that our outdoor dining table suddenly looked horrible on it.

To give you a little background, our outdoor table was found in a neighbors front yard with a free sign on it.  At first glance, I new it was a diamond in the rough; a five foot round teak table!  It just needed some TLC.  Eric and I quickly got it home (fearful that the neighbors would change their minds), sanded it down and I brushed on a polyurethane coating.  It served us well last summer, but the winter weather took its toll.

Not wanting to repeat this pattern every summer, I decided to clean up the table but change my course of action.  So, for the second time, I sanded the table down.  I started with 80 grit to get all the polyurethane off  and then finished off with 250 grit sandpaper.

This took about 1.5 hours to do and I then wiped off the dust left behind.  Once sanding was out of the way, it was all downhill from there.

I found this product at Home Depot:

I liked that it was an oil and that it actually soaked into the wood rather than forming a layer on top (read- nothing to sand off before reapplication).  So, I followed the directions to a "T"- two coats with short wait time between and then a quick wipe down with a rag.  This is after coat one.

The next morning I walked onto our deck to this!

Now that I what I call a nice looking table top!  Now the deck is not looking so hot again- Just Kidding.

Needless to say, I am thrilled with the results.  Two weeks later and it still looks just as good.  I will keep you posted on how it does through the winter, but with a 20 minute touch up project time, I am not too concerned if I need to reapply next year.