Monday, February 22, 2010

Up-to-date for Tom Swifty

I just realized after being teased by a friend, that if you check the blog for the first time, you might get confused by what was on the first few pages: a great photo of The Dump, a pic of Lester and Sophie, and some not-so-interesting photos of a medicine cabinet, some unfinished rooms, a foster dog, and Palmyra Cove.

So the blog gets a makeover today. The new house is prominently featured, and if you look closely, The Dump is still there (in the background on the left). I added a bit more information to my profile, but I retained some of our mystery.

Lester says if this house is really for him, we should have built it without stairs—he's getting too old to climb them. So I came clean and admitted that it is really for us. He is owner in name only. He says he's cool with that.

Three Dog Night and I are coming up again next week, and Jim the Builder said he hopes to have the whole upstairs complete by then so we can move out of the music room on the first floor to the master bedroom on the second. Do they make stair chairs for dogs? And can we get this third wheel adopted by then?

A girl can dream, can't she?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Medicine cabinet and dining room

Photoshop to the rescue...again.

It's a good way to convince The Husband of what I am talking about. He seemed unconvinced when I brought home a white medicine cabinet from Home Depot yesterday. "Why white?" he asked. With the dark chocolate brown walls, pure white trim, white sink, toilet and shower base, it seemed to me the best solution. Yesterday I found a really nice handmade one online for $486, white distressed milk paint on poplar, but things are moving so quickly at the house and the money is starting to run out, so this $99 alternative seemed a good choice, even if it isn't a fine piece of furniture. I could have gotten an oak one to match the vanity, but the cheap oak cabinets looked much cheaper than the cheap white ones.

The last of the photos from our last visit is the dining room. (Please note the useful folding table from the back of the CR-V.) With all the light coming through the windows, it was hard to get a good shot, even on this cloudy day. My single french door is hiding on the left, there are the 3 big windows newly trimmed, a painted white tongue-and-groove ceiling, and don't forget the toaster on the floor.

It is a very comfortable space, and yet another reason to thank Susan the architect for her fine work. Thanks, Susan! (I know you are lurking and silently checking the blog!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Painted rooms

OK, so these photos of painted walls are not that exciting, but all the painting is completed, so I am excited. They finished downstairs first, and here are the master bedroom (with cathedral ceiling) and my little purple studio in the dormer, both upstairs. They were working on installing the window trim when we left. Baseboards go in after the flooring.

Jim said he expects the cork floors to be installed upstairs, and the upstairs bath completed, maybe even by the first week of March when I return (sans husband). Then the dogs and I can stay up there while they are working on the flooring downstairs.

Soapstone counters are installed on March 3, so I may even have a working kitchen by then.

There is still a lot of work for Jesse the Electrician to finish up. I hope that he can install some of the light fixtures before I come back, and it would be nice to have the air exchanger connected to clear the air of all the dust and odors that come with a tight house under construction.

We are trying to be as green as we can, but I admit that I cut costs on the paint. Although I did spring for Benjamin Moore paints throughout (about $40 a gallon), I didn't think the extra cost (about $50 a gallon) for low- or zero-VOC paints was acceptable. And, in case anyone from Benjamin Moore checks in here: the guys had a terrible time trying to cover up the roller marks in the paint. Yes, we used all medium to dark colors, but isn't that why we paid for your premium paint? Someone told them that it was because of the eggshell finish, but they had the same problem with the pearl finish, and I thought that flatter finishes were supposed to cover better.

I am still searching for the perfect medicine cabinet for the master bath. It seems there are only 2 types available—either really cheap ($68 to $150) laminated or painted fake wood, or really expensive ($500 to $1500). I am looking for the in between.

I'll keep looking.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yesterday kitchen, today bathrooms

It never occurred to me that when you are installing a shower surround, that it doesn't necessarily go up to the ceiling. So do you leave it just painted up there? That's what we have in our current home, and it is impossible to keep clean and keep from peeling.

So, Jim the Builder suggested we might find some tiles to finish off the top and sides of both showers. The upstairs/master bath has a green slate shower surround. We could have just continued the slate up to the ceiling, but were not sure that I ordered enough. So, on our shopping trip, I found 3" x 12" borders of 1" copper slate tiles that will nicely finish off the top and sides, and they were only $1.98 each. They look really nice with the green slate, and also work well with the dark chocolatey brown on the painted walls. Check out the schmancy Kohler seated shower base...not too shabby, eh? That's for when we get too old to stand up and get clean...

In the first floor shower, the shower surround is a Swanstone showroom sample (another bargain!). I could have paid $200 extra for a trim kit for the cut edges, but instead The Hub found a white carved "stone" tile that will work nicely to finish the top edge, and Jim said he would finish the side edges with a painted white wood trim. In the photo you can see a bit of the Wythe Blue walls.

I'm shopped-out at this point, and I still have more to buy. But seeing it all come together, and look good, is a lot more fun than actually shopping for these things.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Everything AND the kitchen sink

So far I have only posted pics of Ruby and our Valentine meal from this trip, but I did take several photos of the inside of Lester's Flat. We are back in snowy NJ (it's snowing again, but only lightly). I have enough photos for a few more days' posting. The house looks just great! The guys were there starting at 7:30 am on both Friday and Monday, and The Husband and I answered all the questions that came our way. Jim the Builder was indeed impressed that we fit the shower door in the CR-V and carted it home. He also approved of our choices of tile borders for the 2 showers...both clearance sale items and a real bargain.

The kitchen is looking like a real kitchen, just waiting for the soapstone counters to be installed March 3, my next trip up. There was some confusion about the sink installation, a bit too much wood cut away from the cabinet, but I think Richie can make it right before I come back. The sink itself, also soapstone, is beautiful. I did want the front of it to be ground down more than it is, to look like it had been used for many years, but Todd the Stone Guy can do that when he comes back with the counters. Shout out to Karen the Kitchen Designer for guiding us through this complicated process. Unlike most designers, she worked well with us and actually listened to what we wanted.

We had a nice visit from cousins Chris and Greg. Greg supplied the muffins, we supplied the coffee and the latest chapter in the traveling $25 dock saga. Since Greg invested a lot of time and effort in its initial installation, and its subsequent cold-water rescue, he was pleased that we were able to track it down.

Both guys seemed to approve of how Lester's Flat is shaping up. It may actually be finished, except for the garage, by Easter week, when The Husband comes back up again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day at Lester's Flat

We've had a very pleasant stay at Lester's Flat for Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend. Convenient that we were up here to witness the stealing of our $25 dock by a neighbor who said he was rescuing it..."I am so happy I found out who it belongs to!" This after he already had it set up in his little man-made pond on the edge of his and our property.

We did some Lowe's shopping yesterday and came back with a good deal on a Kohler shower door, some small slate tiles to finish off the edging of the shower surround upstairs, and some samples to do the same in the downstairs bath. We actually managed to fit the 6' shower door in the CR-V and bring it back with us. I hope that Jim is impressed...he thought we were going to have it shipped from Lowe's Herkimer store to Lowe's Oneonta so that he could pick it up for us.

To celebrate Valentine's Day, we had an expensive Riesling from Moore Brothers (Pennsauken, NJ) some smoked salmon, prosciutto, NY cheddar; then steak (broiled in the toaster oven) and baked (microwaved) potatoes and a few sliced Campari tomatoes for dinner.

Ruby the Foster Child is fitting in much too well. It will be hard to give her up if anyone does want to adopt her...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ruby running wild

We made it up to NY with virtually no problems. Ruby the Foster Child sat in my lap for the entire trip with not a whimper. She had a great time when she got here running wild in the fields with Lester and Sophie. Unfortunately, I think she ate some goodies out in the field that didn't agree with her puppy belly. We've been cleaning up a few messes today. But, as you can see in the pics, she was a truly happy girl out running in the snow with the kids.

The second photo with all 3 dogs is The Husband taking the path down to the creek. If you read my posts from August and later, our $25 dock has turned into quite the saga. It disappeared again...only to be found further up the road. It had a little help disappearing this time...but has returned safely home.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enough already!

We had 20" of snow on Friday and Saturday, and now another 18" predicted for tonight and tomorrow. Jim the Builder said there are only 5" in the snowy North Country. Snowmobile enthusiast that he is—he wants our snow.

But I have had enough! It is great for wearing out the Puppy Head. She is absolutely hysterical to watch out there in snow that still is over her head in some spots. But put 18" on top of that? We may never find her again.

It is the timing that really bothers me. The Husband and I are supposed to go up to the new house on Thursday morning. Miss Ruby/Puppy Head is going to stay with another foster Mom while we are gone. I would love to take her with us, but we would have trouble fitting her in the car with us and the dogs. We wouldn't have room to take her crate with us, so all that crate-training would go down the tubes. And I don't trust her enough to let her run offleash with my guys up there. Imagine trying to walk her onleash, which she isn't very good at, through the snow with my guys running free...

The good news is that the kitchen cabinets, oven and dishwasher have been installed, and Todd the Soapstone Guy is coming out with Karen the Kitchen Designer today to make the template for the countertops. I think the soapstone sink is finished, and it may even get installed today as well. Jim has been working on tiling the upstairs bath. The painting is finished. Not sure if they started installing the trim. Bamboo floors are in at Krazy Tom's, and hopefully Jim picked them up to "cure" in the house for a week or 2. Cork floors have been ordered and paid for, but not in yet. Cobalt blue glass top for the upstairs vanity should be delivered "any day now". Farm Table Guy is working on the island.

And the best news: the woodstove installation issue has finally been resolved. I talked to Jim on the phone yesterday. He said I was "very crafty" in coming up with my little illustration of the proper installation (see above). A nice long talk with Tom at the store where I bought it, and a little Photoshop knowledge goes a long way toward clearing up the fuzzy directions.

I hope the weather doesn't mess with our plans. Again, I can't wait to see the progress.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time out for a blizzard

All three dogs are having a party out running in the snow. It is hard to believe Miss Ruby the Foster Girl can fly through it as fast as she can. There's about 20" out there, more in the drifts, and it's up to her ears. This is our second weekend Nor'easter this winter. I guess it's good we don't have to go anywhere.

I think I finally resolved the new-house woodstove installation problem this week, after 2 phone calls to Herkimer Home and Leisure where I bought it. It was hard to interpret the instructions that came with it, because none of the situations exactly matched mine. To connect to the existing chimney, previously installed by Bruce the Plumber, I had to follow the back-wall-mount instructions even though it will actually vent through the ceiling. If we do make it up there at the end of this week, we will have to talk to Bruce and Jim to make sure it is all done right. After so many months of getting all the details right on our dream house, we don't want it to burn down the first time we light up the stove.

And light up the stove we will! Two months in a row our propane bill, for heat alone, has been close to $400. We don't spend that much on gas and electric here in the drafty old house in NJ where we live full-time. So much for my super efficient new heater. My investigation on my last visit turned up a possible explanation—it's cold up there, and there's a whole lot of traffic in and out the front door. That and the price of propane went up 60 cents a gallon.