Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maybe we can take showers tonight.....

What a weekend! We rented a tile saw Friday  night with our overly optimistic thoughts that we might be able to finish all the tricky cuts for the wall tile and the floor in time to return the saw when the rental place opened at 9 am the next morning - which would give us a a 4 hour rental instead of a 24 hour rental - but working until midnight, there was still plenty to do the next morning.  But - by 9 pm last night, we were grouting!

Love, love, love the marble "rug" in the shower floor.  The bench on the right is going to be great, too. 

We're been in this house for 7 weeks - and maybe tonight we'll actually be able to take a shower!  Actually, 7 weeks doesn't sound that long until I think about the daily bathing using the kitchen sink --

The long view shows the undrywalled walls, wooden floors and the janky shower curtain we'll be using until we get shower glass installed - which won't happen until January!  We'll be leaving in a few days to go back east for Christmas -- I wanted to be sure we had a semi-functioning bathroom when we returned!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finally....starting to tile

OK -this is getting kind of ridiculous - between Dale working overtime and me finishing up the semester with meetings and grading, we just weren't getting anything done at all.  But finally this week we have the shower pan poured and now it's tile for awhile!
Hard to take a picture this evening - the tile is bright white and I am hoping to get the walls done tomorrow morning.  I have a few tiles that I need a wet saw to cut, so I am just leaving those until I rent one this weekend (I need one for the floor), but I should have all the wall field tiles done.  I am hoping to post a picture this weekend of a semi-complete shower.  The room still needs drywall and a floor, but what I am really wanting is a finished shower!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

patiently waiting....

Oh, bathroom, when will you ever be done?  I spent a little time this weekend - while waiting for various things to dry - fixing up a couple of display boxes for this great collection of vintage porcelain and ceramic baby shoes that I have. 

And then, of course, I could not find the box with all the little shoes in it.  I think I have about 35 of them.  I may need more shelves....

While dismantling the previous bathroom, I saved the drawer from the vanity.  I also had an older small drawer that I added a fun decorative knob to.  I found some scrap wood from the scrap wood pile (which is kinda enormous right now) and cut some extra shelves to fit.  The larger drawer had really horrid floor tile stuck to the bottom and I could not pry it out, so I glued some pages from a vintage music book to cover it up.  So these are going to go on the wall in my future bathroom. I have another drawer out in the garage to work on still.  Who knows, maybe I'll find the baby shoes by the time the bathroom gets finished, which appears to be in the not-to-near future.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Table makeover

I have been scouring Craigslist for a dresser to convert into a vanity for our bathroom, but we need a pretty specific size, and I have some things on my wishlist for it (curvy front, long legs, drawers on each side, not just down the middle), so nothing's fit my requirements yet.  However, I did see a kitchen table (another thing I've been looking for) - and the price was right - FREE.  So Dale and I drove over & picked it up on Saturday morning. 

 It's a pretty small round table (42" diameter), but with the leaf in, it measures closer to 5', and so that works for our kitchen. 

 It's nice enough oak with a claw foot pedestal, but the top was in real rough shape --

So I took the sander to it and got the top all sanded down to bare wood.

Painted the pedestal a nice satin black (along with the apron of the table)

Projected an image of a French Chocolate ad from Graphics Fairy on the tabletop.

(this is not my original idea - I am copying from a table I saw on another blog I read: Red Hen Home)

Painted this with black acrylic paint --

Distressed the lettering a bit with sandpaper, then gave it two coats of Antique Walnut stain.  This is the first coat going on --   

Second coat finished, and first of 6 coats of hand-rubbed Poly.

Put it back together and now it's in my kitchen!

Sigh. It looks so nice, it makes the kitchen look even worse!  I think I need some black chairs to go around it - maybe an assortment of mis-matched chairs with matching fabric seats, all painted black.

Shower progress

Arg - with all the power outages caused by winds out here in SoCal, Dale was on-call this weekend, so the planned progress with getting the shower ready to tile was delayed - but he did get an initial layer of the mortar bed down.
He was just getting ready to do the final layer when they called him to work.  I sure hope we get a shower soon!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tree in front of the house

The weather is still nice in sunny Southern CA, so I'd rather be working outside than in - besides, I have a TON of grading to do and I need a physically satisfying job to take my mind of it all!  So I decided to start tackling the tree in front of the house by the street.  With our plumbing woes of a couple of weeks ago that revealed that we've got a massive amount of roots in the old pipes, the plumber said that some of the main culprits are the ivy on the ground and growing through the tree.  Plus, that poor sad tree is covered in ivy.

This is how it looked when we closed on the house.  The ivy in the planting strip will have to be dug out, but for now, I'm going to start liberating the tree.

Today, I cut a strip around the entire tree of ivy vines and branches.  I had to saw a bunch of them off.  Luckily, this is a type of eucalyptus tree that sheds bark, so once I cut through the vines, it was relatively easy enough to pull them off the tree.  I am hoping that cutting a ring around the tree will help the ivy above start to die --- but I don't hold a lot of hope in this theory -

I also have to cut and clear years and years worth of vines, grass, droppings, eucalyptus pods and McDonald's toys from the base of the tree.  Oh, and dog poop.  One of the downsides of having a messy yard is that people apparently don't think they have to clean up after their dogs when they poo by the tree -- and really, who'd blame them?  Oh yea - ME.

So now it looks like a lollipop with a big green top:

Here's the neighbor's tree.  Yep, this is how I want it to look.  But it's gonna take some time.  And loads and loads of trash. 

baby steps!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gypsy Camper update

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday week with my daughter, with our main project being working on the Gypsy Camper.  We were hoping to get it all done, but like all other projects, lots of unforseen complications arose and we didn't quite finish - which was disappointing, because we wanted to get it all decorated!  Here's a picture of the outside, which we did finish - along with a before/after shot:
My daughter is a big fan of pink.  We picked up all the polka dot colors from remainders/mis-mixes at the hardware store and the Habitat Re-store.  it took 2 coats of paint - the fun part was trying to carefully go over all the edges of the circles while people were inside, jostling about.  At one point, I heard my daughter laughing behind me as I am trying to carefully outline a turquoise dot and the whole trailer jumps as someone steps out.  It looks fabulous, eh? a Barbie circus trailer!

We also got a lot of the inside work done - redid the little kitchen for the most part, although I'd like to replace the doors on the cabinets, they're pretty warped and rough.  They're going to get another coat of paint as well for now.  We removed the stove and painted it with appliance high-heat spray - hopefully it will hold up well.  We also replaced the counter top, and the broken glass in the front window was replaced with a screen and an awning for ventilation.
The awning flips u  but in this picture, it's down. 

We also spent a lot of time doing the fabric items - curtains, pillows and futon cover.  But we coudln't get them placed inside, because there's still work to be done on the walls.  We found out that most of the electrical was non-functioning, so we had to rip out some wall areas to run new electrical all throughout. 

So here's the couch area, ready for the mattress, but you can see the side where we started to put up our map wallpaper, which then got ripped down when they had to get access to the wiring.  We are planning on doing white beadboard halfway up the walls, with the map collage covering the walls up to the ceiling.  The little bits we got done looked great -- right up until they found out they'd have to rip into them to get to the wiring. The window frames are all painted black, and it looks great to set off the map wallpaper.

I have lots of fabrics in my stash, so we went through them all and picked out the ones they liked, then pieced together a cover for the futon.  Boy, was that fun to get put on!

Daisy the Canyon Dog (a.k.a. Troublemaker, Bad Dog, Naughty Girl, Escape Artist, etc -- also, Sweetie Pie, Mouse, Snuggle Bug) is overseeing our work. 

I wish we had some finished pictures!  One more day and we would have had the whole thing all fancied up!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Yesterday was a rainy day, so I couldn't do any outside work, so I replaced all the old brass (tarnished/broken!) doorknobs in the house with nice new lever style knobs.
The old knobs had lots of issues - sometimes you'd have to turn them really far in order to open the door - and if you had something in your hands, well, you'd have to put it down to open the door.  So these lever styles one are so much nicer.  And the hardware being nickel looks so much more modern.

Last night, I heard one of the cats (Mercury, our trouble-making male) rooting around in the bathroom.  He's always looking to get into something.  He came trotting out with a narrow slice of plastic pipe from the trash - he spent all evening rolling it around and chasing it.
Goofy cat!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Working in the yard

We have had a couple of nice days - wait, who am I fooling? This is southern California - they're all nice days! but I really wanted to be outside and working with my yard, so I got a bunch of small things done.  First off, I dug out the overgrown ornamental grasses in the front planter box and divided them into smaller clumps, planting the rest of it in the back yard for now.  I bought 10 mums at the 99¢ store to add a little color.  The front entry looks so much nicer now.

This is what it looked like before--

And this is what it looks like now.

That's a big bag of lemons on our front porch for our real estate agent. 

I have a ton of lemons!

We also have a lot of avocados - we're bringing these when we visit my daughter for the holiday next week - we're not avocado eater and I hate for them to go to waste!

And I have a lot of lemons because I finally decided to get working on trimming back that overgrown lemon tree.  Here's a picture of what it looked like before--

You can't even see where it is!  There are so many random wild branches and suckers growing that you can't see the shape of the tree.

But it looks much better now --

Look! it's a tree!.  It still needs a bunch taken off from the top - there are SO MANY lemons up there!

I also trimmed the little tree in the planter box beside the garage - I don't know what kind it is, but it was leggy and you couldn't walk past on the sidewalk.  The bird of paradise is kind of overgrown, too - I might have to dig that up and divide it, but it looks much nicer now that you can actually see it past the overgrown lemon!  It sure would look a lot better with some grass growing, wouldn't it?!

I also put a bunch of stuff away along the back of the house, and hung up my windchimes and stuff.  Hard to feel like it looks homey with that wonky screen door and light fixture, but it's better anyway.

One thing we do need to do is fix the drainage issue - the water for the whole back patio collects right there, which is the low spot.  We need to jackhammer that section out and put in a drain.  We also want to divert the water off with a rain chain on this corner - the house doesn't have gutters but we're going to put one along the back corner, over the sliding glass door and the door off the kitchen, and have it flow into a gravel drain on the corner there -- that should help, too!

Meanwhile -- still no bathroom, and Dale worked a 21 hour shift last night, so he's just kind of like a zombie.  Actually, he just went back to bed an hour ago - so not much getting done this afternoon.  Maybe tonight and tomorrow, although he's on call all weekend. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Classy Kitchen

So far I've been showing the nice rooms, the ones that needed just a bit of work to make them comfortable, and while we intend to go through this house, room by room, to get it where we want it to be, there are some rooms that need less work than the others.  Then there's the kitchen.

There are so many things not to love about the kitchen.  The floor:

not only is it hideous, it's in terrible shape.

The tile.  Again, ugly, chipped, cracked.  And yellow, my very least favorite color.

And this horrible addition of tile behind the range from the 70s.  It was so hideous I hung a framed poster over the stove to hide most of it.  The stove is not centered on the tile backsplash, because someone installed a hideous gas line that sticks out ---

The 'new' gas line for the stove.  In the worst possible place, and a lovely feature you see as you walk into the kitchen.  Note my clever trash bin camouflage.

The acoustic ceiling tiles and the loudest industrial fan ever.  It works, but it sounds like a jet engine.


The outlet for the (ugly) room air conditioner. It just hangs out there.  The air conditioner itself is hideous, but until we can get central air and central heat, it is going to have to stick around.  The front panel is on the floor behind the space heater.  The space heater is there because this kitchen is also serving as our bathing area and it gets kind of COLD in here when you're doing your bathing out of the sink.

The "installation" of the dishwasher - just shoved up against the wall with the insulation/plastic all hanging out.  (but it does work! and I'm grateful to have a dishwasher after the last place we rented that didn't have one).  Just not loving the classy look.

The flourescent ceiling fixture.  More view of the lovely acoustic tile ceiling.  There was also a sticky ceiling fan over the seating area, but I took that hideous thing out as we were moving in.  When you turned it on, it rocked back and forth in a dangerous fashion - and it was, well, hideous.

The thing I dislike most about the kitchen is that it's completely cut off from the rest of the house.  All these things will be remedied in time, and there ARE some things that I do LIKE about the kitchen......

I like the wall hung faucet, deep porcelain sink, and the large windows that face the south side.  It's always sunny and cheerful in here.  (lovely cracked tile and the window itself, like all the windows in the house need to be replaced).

Like a lot of California kitchens, there are built-in breadboards.  This house has 2 of them.  Lots of big cabinets, and drawers I haven't even filled yet. 

Yum, Cocoa Krispies.

It has a nice dining area - it looks hideous right now, but Dale and I find ourselves sitting here often in front of the large window that opens out over the front porch, chatting at the end of the day.  I want to build in some window seats, it's a really nice place to sit.  Oh, lovely blue velvet curtains - those are there for privacy for now, since we have to strip down in the kitchen to wash up, and this front window is HUGE and faces the street.  After the bathroom is done, I'll change these to something more attractive.

The other thing this kitchen has that I like is a pocket door so you can close off the noise of the dishwasher and jet engine fan if you need to.  I love pocket doors. 

We're going to have to live with this kitchen for a couple of years - there are bigger priorities to get done  - if we first add on a bathroom, we can get a new appraisal and get more favorable financing terms, so that's the next thing in line after getting the bathroom done.  The addition off the master bedroom will enlarge the bedroom, add a bath and a laundry area and open out to the patio.  Then we'll get central heat and air done, running ducts and all, then finally, we'll do the kitchen.  So I have to make it livable for the next couple of years the way it kind of is.  Maybe change the floor and build the window seats.  Maybe add a pass-through to the living room to open it up a bit.  Some temporary measures until we can get the whole thing overhauled.  But for now, well, this is our classy kitchen!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I need to get some pictures of our master bedroom, but there is a pile of laundry to be folded on the bed, and I just am not up to it this morning.  But I did take a picture of one of the walls,  with the art arrangement.
The large colorful heart was painted by a fourth grader - I love how vibrant it is.  I was putting up an exhibit of works taught by a wonderful Bloomington, IN teacher - she taught a Jim Dine lesson and the students created some lovely pieces, so I asked the student if I could buy this for $20.  The other hearts are in frames I got at the dollar store.  Looks like I might need to straighten up a few!

Monday, November 14, 2011

more studio

After getting the room cleared of boxes and getting my tables set up, I was inspired to get the rest of the furniture in.  Still have lots of art supplies to move onto the shelves, but I finally have a place to put my red loveseat and Kandinsy-inspired rug.  It's looking like a nice cozy place to work!
The room serves a bit as a hallway - there's a straight shot through with doors on both ends.  The closet is in an awkward place in the corner, but since I am just using it to store large bins with fabric, I don't mind not being able to access the back corner right now.  We have some storage upgrades in mind down the road for all the closets, which are original to the house and have  two large drawers underneath, and doors with wooden slider doors that do NOT move very easily.  Last night, I installed steel rails and wheels on the ones in our master bedroom, which would not slide at all. 

Update on the bathroom progress:  slow!

Dale had to work another long weekend, so he hasn't made much progress.  He worked 12 hour days most days this week, with the additional Saturday being more like an 18 hour day, so needless to say, he's really tired and jumping into a bathroom rebuild was more than he was able to do.  However, on Sunday, he got the rest of the plumbing and venting done under the house, so we'll be able to get the floor all sealed up and leveled this week.  He's also got the shower framed and the bench built, so he's hoping to finish installing a new window and getting that mortar bed laid this week.  Maybe a few normal 8 hour days would come in handy!
Not his favorite job!  
This morning, I changed out the hardware on the built in linen closet in the hall.  The view of the closet is framed in the doorway so you can see it from the living room - the old pulls were tarnished 1950s brass. 

Hmmm...the cabinets are bright white....the color's a bit off....

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I am going to get this studio whipped into shape today.  This morning, I put together my IKEA desks - I really like the broad wall of desk space!
I've got to move my computer and printer in - I've saved some space on the left.  I also have a ton of artwork - one of the benefits of being an art teacher for years!  Although students often offer to give me artwork for free, I always insist on paying for it (unless it's a gift; one of my high school students gave me a painting as a graduation/leaving gift).  It's part of learning to be a professional artist, charging for your work!

Here's a wall of student work.  The large piece on the left is a current piece by a student I had way back in the 90s when I first started teaching, the one on the lower right is one of my very favorite pieces, and the top right is an abstract that was gifted to me.

I have lots more artwork to hang!  But this was a good start.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Succulent Border

I have LOTS of gardening to do, but, well - baby steps.  I have this foot-wide strip along the house and the driveway, full sun, some sad looking plants.  Here's the before:

Here's what I want it to look like:

So yesterday, I spent time (and sweat!) digging up all the raggedy plants.  Two of them are actually worth keeping, there's a nice overgrown/woody shasta daisy, and a mum back there, so I transplanted those out to the back.  The evergreen shrub in the front was a real mess - a really big gnarly stump with new growth, I had to cut it out and dig out the roots. 

So now I have it all cleaned out.  Those are some plants I bought last night - a fescue and a flat of a nice succulent groundcover.  I don't know why I bought anything - I have a ton of plants I've been getting free. 

So I had to come home from school for lunch today and plant for a bit!  It's going to look great eventually-- I still have some plants to move to the very back corner, but I gotta get back to work!  I can't wait for them to fill in.

Blogging tips