Saturday, November 14, 2009

Grand Plans - Thwarted AGAIN!!!

Well, unfortunately my hopes of getting my modified bed rest eased up were dashed with the news that I was now to go onto STRICT bedrest.  So much for sewing...  and pretty much anything related to the house besides just looking at it from my horizontal position on the couch.  The good news is that I will not be pregnant forever.  Meanwhile, I'll do my best to keep the little guy in my belly baking for as long as possible!  I was 30 weeks yesterday, so we're hoping to make it to the end of the year.
Prior to going fully down, I did get a chance to also finish these curtains for the kitchen:

The inspiration came from some cafe curtains in the Pottery Barn catalogue:

Apologies for my poor photography skills... not quite the light and airy look of the catalogue, but you get the idea.  I got the fabric last year at the closeout sale for Fabric Place, with the intention of making these curtains, but it looks like I underestimated the yardage, and only got enough for 3 of the 5 windows.  Oh well - the other 2 windows are a different size and more in the kitchen prep area while the 3 that now have the coverings are in the eat-in area, so I think it all works.

Then a few weeks ago I pulled up eBay (lots of spare internet time on my hands these days) and found this great metal sign.  I figured it fit the bare wall space above the table pretty well (2' x 3'), so I went ahead and bid.  I can't remember the exact price, but I got it for less than $130 - which isn't too bad, if you consider the price of an equivalent size of artwork, and definitely not too bad of a price for an authentic vintage metal sign.  Here it is as Jim mounted it:

As I was thumbing through the September issue of This Old House magazine a few months ago, I came across a Reader Remodel that had a similar kitchen issue as us... horrid flat cabinet doors.  They ended up doing something I have always thought about doing, but never thought it would actually work - until I saw their picture.  They just added some stock molding in a frame to the outside of the cabinet doors:

So I played around a little with what I had in the house, and checked at Homer to see what thicknesses and widths they had in stock, and found something I thought would work.  I bought enough for a couple of cabinets and came home and played with my router a bit. 

This is the first time I've done anything besides just plain butt joints.  Real joinery!  I made half-lap joints on the corners.  It took me the longest time to set the router up for the proper thickness of cut, but here's my joint - all glued up:

And here's what the frame looks like all glued together:

Since we don't have a lot of clamps or much space in the basement to glue things together, and I wasn't supposed to be on my feet very long, the plan was to do this slowly, one door frame at a time, and just kind of get through it bit by bit.  Each door costs about $15 in materials, so to do the whole set of cabinet doors, it will only take about $200.  The ultimate plan, of course, has us redo-ing the kitchen in 5 - 10 years, so we don't want to spend too much on temporary fixes anyway (i.e. totally new cabinets).  It was a perfect plan.  ugh - until strict bedrest.  So my little frame is sitting in the basement, off to the side.  Waiting for the day I can start my little projects again.... in between feedings and naps... (I fully realize I might be fooling myself here.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Nursery Sewing - Crib Set

I've been doing some more sewing for the nursery... slowly, and as I've felt up to it.  Here's what I've finished in the last week or so.  If you remember, here was the inspiration picture for the crib bedding:

The crib that we have is one that Jim's mom found yard-saling.  It has these kickbars on the bottom as a mechanism for dropping the crib sides. 

Useful, but kind of ugly - and the way that they are positioned pushes the bedskirt out of alignment.  We were going to trade the crib for a different one that Jim's mom had also found, but I think that I figured out a way to make it work...  I added another panel to the skirt, making it look like a box pleat.  It covers most of the kickbar and makes it far less objectionable.

I also made a cribsheet out of brown gingham.  I'm not sure I like the gingham next to the ticking stripes of the skirt.  It might grow on me.  I'll probably make a few more fitted sheets out of off-white or dark brown fabric.  It was super easy to make... I just followed this tutorial, except I sewed lastin elastic around the entire edge, instead of just the corners.

The hardest piece was the bumper pads.  Yes, I know there is debate on whether you should even actually have these due to SIDS concerns, but I kept the padding to a minimum, and it was just too cute to resist.  If I were to make this again, I'd construct it a little differently to make the sewing come out cleaner, but an infant isn't going to know the difference, and most people won't even see what the issues are.  The monkeys in the fabric I bought seem to be smaller than the ones in the inspiration picture.  Maybe they came out with a different version of the print.  It still looks fine to me.

Here's the finished bedding. 

I think it turned out cute.  It was more work than buying a set, but I like the monkeys better than any of the sets I saw, and I was able to make it for far less than what the sock monkey bedding was priced anywhere I found it on-line.

I still have plans to re-stain or paint the crib.  My plan was to paint it white like the inspiration photo, and to match the glider.  But maybe a dark stain would look good too?...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garage Plan Update

Jim was finally able to meet with the town building inspector this week.  He was able to give Jim an idea on what would actually pass variances and what wouldn't.  The outcome of that meeting was that while we could probably get a variance for the detached garage on the previous plan I posted, it would not ever be able to be attached.

So the current plan is to try to fit something within all the requirements so that we don't actually have to get any variances and the inspector will go ahead and give us a permit.  There's basically a couple of options:

-Move the garage in the previous plan to the right a few feet (must be 12 feet from the property line for an attached garage) and back
-Move the garage to the back of the house, slightly angle it so that it remains 12 feet from the property line and also makes it easier to pull into the garage.

Our current thought is to do the second option.  Here's Jim's plan for that:

Jim has more thoroughly thought out the pros and cons of both options (I had to work on a midterm last night)
But if I remember right, the pros for this option are
-get a permit quickly
-more streamlined look with the house

-larger driveway to snowblow
-have to find 3 carriage house doors now
-might be a little tight getting into the garage (either option becomes difficult when meeting the set-back requirements)

Anyway, this decision moves us along. Now Jim can go back to the architect and tell him what he wants drawn up. Then he can take the official drawings to the building inspector to get the permit.

The Biggest Refrigerator EVER!!!

OK, maybe not "EVER"...
When I bought the house several years ago, I decided I had to have a true vintage refrigerator in the kitchen.  I was in a time crunch to move in so  I started my search locally.  That came up empty, so I expanded my search on eBay and found my lovely little GE fridge I had shipped in from Wisconsin, of all places.  I had been living in apartments and hardly eating in, so I usually only had about 3 things in a mostly empty apartment fridge.  So my little vintage GE fridge suited me just fine.

Fast forward to today...  There's now 2 of us, and as I'm finishing up night school, we're trying to eat more home cooked meals.  The little GE fridge doesn't quite cut it anymore.  It doesn't even fit a whole gallon of milk.  So we've been making runs to the store every couple of days for a new half gallon, which, by the way, sometimes costs MORE than a gallon.  The thing is constantly jam packed. 

Then add in the little one on the way...  I'd like to actually try to cook at least some of my own baby food.  There's no space for that now.

Out of curiosity the other day, I measured the inside space of the vintage GE fridge.  5.5 cubic feet.  That includes the about 1-2 cubic feet that is wasted by the unusable and constantly frosted up freezer compartment.  hmm. 

Jim's has continued to troll Craigslist, and came across a lovely 4-year old Jenn-Air french door stainless steel number.  It was even "counter depth" - so it wouldn't stick out too much from our less-than-standard-depth counters.  Awesome.  The price was pretty good, so we snapped it up.

20 cubic feet.  Not the biggest EVER, but ridiculously big compared to a little vintage fridge!

Even more amusing is what the new fridge looked like once we transfered all the jam packed food over to it (and bought our first gallon of milk in a long time):

Just so you don't worry, I won't be throwing the little GE fridge out!  and I won't be selling it - I couldn't bear to part with something so cute!  It has a future in Jim's to-be-built garage...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jim's Garage Plan

Jim has been working on Google's Sketch Up to draft up ideas for the garage. We finally figured out how to format it to add to the blog. So here it is - this isn't an architectural drawing, it's just him playing around to see how it would look.

The size he's looking at is 24' x 36', large enough to fit 2 cars in the front, a project car or two in the back, and high enough to add a lift or two. Maybe more than a typical suburbanite would need, but what can we say, Jim's a car man.

We'd like to also make it big enough that we could finish the second floor one day if we like. Maybe a future workshop or playroom or something... But for now, it will be unfinished.

Then my favorite - The phase 2 of the plan will connect the garage to the back of the house via a *mudroom* and fix the back of the kitchen. (that's still the dream phase for now)

The actual drawings are in process.

So what still needs to be done?
-submit the plans & plot plans to the building inspector for a permit
-petition the zoning board for a variance to build closer to the property line & house than the code allows
-rent a dumpster to put the old garage in
-write a big giant check to the contractor

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Refreshed Glider

So about 2 weeks ago I went on "modified bedrest", so even the mild projects I planned on doing have been downscaled.  Now,  I really feel like the only project stuff I can do is sew.  It drives me a little crazy - especially when I see something that should be done, and I can't do anything about it for the next 3 1/2 months...  The curse of being a Type A!!!  But I can deal with it for the little one.

The good news is that I am now under doctor's orders to work from home, so that does give me a little *extra* time to sew - not to mention the money I save in gas (I normally commute 50 miles each way)

My fabric came in Tuesday, so here's what I did the last couple of days.  Remember this little Craiglist purchase:

Well, here it is now:

All ready to coordinate with sock monkey cribbing!

In brief, I didn't use a pattern.  I just took the old covers off and cut out fabric in that shape, adding a seam allowance.  Then I just kind of fit the fabric around the cushions, pin, and sew.  I added welt cording because I think that makes it look more professional.  And I made the seat bottom "box" style - because I think it's easier to fit the strange shape, it looks nicer, and that's the style I have experience making.  The seat bottom uses a zipper in the back and the seat back opens at the bottom, so both can be thrown in the wash when they're dirty. 

And I also added some ties to the seat back to attach it to the glider. 

Luckily, I had some extra cording and an extra upholstery zipper from a past slipcover project...  though it made me a little sad because it still had the Fabric Place tag on it - just a reminder of how fabulous that store was, and how junky JoAnnes (or Ho-Annes, as my husband calls it) is.

But in true Tiffany form, the seat back is only 90% done - well, maybe 95%...  I didn't use a zipper because it wouldn't construct quite right.  My plan is to just put snaps in it to close it at the bottom, but I don't have snaps or a pair of snap pliers yet.  I plan to get a nice pair & finish this, but we'll see how that actually turns out.  No one sees that part, and safety pins do the job for now anyway!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nursery Musings

It's very late (or very early in the morning) and I'm still awake with projects rumbling through my head and a baby kicking in my belly.

So, as I described in the last post, we are going to convert the guest bedroom into the nursery. A few things are starting to come together.

Jim's mom picked up a crib for us while yard-saling. She also got a changing station. Actually, she found 2 of both and let us pick. We sort of eenie-meenie-minie-mo-ed and chose the lighter of the 2. I'm thinking we'll paint it white.

We started trolling Craigslist and found this glider/rocker for $25. It's already white, and I should be able to recover the cushion fairly easily.

Then I think we should move Jim's big dresser into our room and clear out the smaller white one that's currently in our room. It would probably look pretty good in the nursery also. It's functional, but a big pain in the butt to slide some of the drawers in and out. Maybe I can see if there's something from Rockler to help remedy that situation.

As I was creating a baby registry/buying reminder list on Amazon, I came across this bedding and thought it was pretty cute. Plus, I love the way the really dark wood that is in the guest room now goes with the blue color of the walls, and this crib set brings that chocolate color back in. And who doesn't like monkeys???
But then I was surfing around this site today contemplating what I could do to cover the unattractive cushion for the car seat we recently got, and I found this sock monkey bedding. It also has the chocolate and the monkeys - but in a less "cutesy" way - probably more our style. A little more searching, and it looks like the sock monkey fabric is easily available on line... it's a totally do-able project.

Maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew right now, but chances are pretty good, after a visit to the doctor this week, that I'll likely be on bedrest for some of the remaining period of this pregnancy. And definitely working reduced hours from home this week. Besides, it's sort of my normal mode to bite off more than I can chew...

In other news, Jim seems to be getting closer to a garage addition. He spoke with a contractor who gave us a very reasonable bid. Lower than we were expecting. He said he could have it up before winter. We were originally planning to do it next spring, but with the lower bid, it's possible to consider for this fall. That would be nice for Jim. Then he can get back to working on his '36 here at home instead of keeping it in a rented shop that he no longer has time to get to.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The REAL reason I haven't done anything this summer... I'm PREGNANT!

That's right, folks! 18 weeks now and counting... It's sort of at the point where I can't disguise it very well anymore, so the jig is up, so to speak. As far as the house goes, it's like a curse and a blessing. A curse because it really bugs me to see all the exterior paint that still needs to be shaved, but a blessing because I actually have to relax a little! I'm playing it safe because there is DEFINITELY lead in that peeling exterior paint, and it's best just to save that for another time. (ya, like when there's a baby crawling around getting his hands in the lead paint dust!... just kidding)

I think when most people are pregnant, they get all excited about putting together a nursery. But to them, all that means is picking paint, spreading it on the walls, and buying some new baby furniture. Maybe add in a few decorative items. So simple and quaint! Well, it's just not quite like that for us. First, we have to figure out where the nursery will go. And then, depending on where we pick, it could mean some major work. Here's our options:

1. Change the already mostly complete guest room over.
Advantages with this room - it's on the same floor as our bedroom and would be the simplest conversion, meaning walls, ceiling, floors, electric, and lights are already done - the most like a normal person's nursery project. Disadvantages - we can't fit a crib AND a guest bed in that room, so the guest bed needs a new location. Plus, there's no heat in that room, so we'd need to get some kind of space heater or other solution.

2. Fix up the attic space above the kitchen. Advantages with this room - it would be on the same floor as our bedroom (circled in yellow). Disadvantages - everything else. The room is poorly insulated, if insulated at all. All the walls would have to be demo-ed, electricity wiring and insulation added, new drywall put up, a new floor put in, the window would need to be repaired and have a storm window added, plus we would have to deal with the sloping ceiling. We thought about adding some cute cubbies or something to the kneewalls, but the time the built-ins would be put in, the room becomes very long and very narrow. Plus, as with option 1, there's no heat in this room. Not to mention the weird entry into this room. You have to go through the bathroom, into the "closet room" and through another doorway (follow the blue arrows).

3. Fix up the attic space above the main house. There are really 2 options within this option:

3a. Create the attic space we actually want. Advantages - it would really improve the useable space of the house and up the resale value. We would knock out the walls between the 2 rooms:


and create one bigger room. It could be a room that could actually become a child's room/playroom. There is a perfect space at the window to create the window seat/bookshelf unit I would love to have. Disadvantages - it would have to be some major work - demo some walls, repair and open up the stairway , add some electric and lighting, lay down a new floor, deal with a chimney smack in the middle of the room, actually make the window seat built-in. Then the major disadvantage is that we would have to walk up and down the stairs every time the baby wakes up.

3b. Just fix up one of the attic rooms. This could be fairly simple. Advantages - the walls are in decent shape, so it could just be some minor wall repair, painting, a couple of outlets, and a rug. This is also the best repaired original window in the house. Disadvantages - again, it would still be on a different floor. And with the knee walls, it's pretty small.

After humming and hawing (as my father would say) over all these options, I think we have decided to do option 1 and move the guest room bed up to option 3b. That should be the simplest for us.

It would be nice to have option 3a for the longer run, though. But that will probably have to give way to the future phase 1 garage addition and phase 2 garage/house connector with a mudroom (potentially including a kitchen and 2nd floor additions) Hey, it's nice to dream, at least!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I love Craigslist

Living in a part of the country with really well-off people definitely has its advantages. They often do crazy things like get rid of perfectly good expensive stuff to buy newer good expensive stuff. I guess because its newer. I'm not really sure. Crazy rich people.

We've been looking for a dishwasher for quite some time. We haven't had one in this house, and I, in fact, have not had one since... um... must have been St. Paul over 10 years ago. Our kitchen cabinets are old and not standard size at all - in fact, they are not even full boxes, like cabinets today - they were built with the plaster wall as the back. This poses a bit of a problem when looking for "built in" appliances to add... It is REALLY HARD to find something that will fit! - well, fit without sticking out 3 inches or more. Turns out that the European cabinets must be a different standard size, because the only models I found to fit, depth-wise, were Miele, Boche, and Fisher-Paykel.

For some reason, I fell in love with the Fisher-Paykel. What a genius idea - dish drawers! You don't have to have a full load to run a wash. Definitely an advantage to a small family without too many dishes. We almost got one last year for Christmas, as a gift to each other, but decided it would be better to focus on paying off the roof and Taya's vet bills. So in the meantime, Jim has regularly been trolling Craigslist. He has various things he looks for - one of which has been the Fisher-Paykel. Usually the double drawer shows up for about $1000, but last week, he found one listed for $550. We talked it over, and decided to jump on it.

I went to the place to look at it and give a deposit as soon as she got back to Jim. They had this great beachside condo with a view of the ocean and the Boston skyline on the northshore. Not far, in fact, from this beach I visited with Abbey last April:

Crazy rich people. We couldn't figure out why she wanted to get rid of it (and turns out, neither could her husband), but I'll happily buy things off of crazy rich people!

Next we had to do a little demo work to cut the hole. Luckily, there is a spot just the right width where the previous owners had this strange peninsula bar sticking out.

We tore off some of the wood:

And then used a jig saw to cut the left side of the hole

Cleaned everything up and added some new plywood to section off the cabinet:

We also went to Homer to pick up a garbage disposal (yes, we really are moving into the 21st century folks) and various electrical and plumbing items for the installation.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of the weekend, so to clean things up, Jim moved the dishwasher into the newly created hole, where I can now view it all week and fantasize about all the super clean and sterile dishes I will have next week........

The old fridge next to it may look a bit awkward now. I mean, eclectic - isn't that what they call it?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jim's Week Off

Last week Jim decided to use up some of his comp days to get a few things done around the house. It had been raining, and continued to rain for most of that week. But he was primarily doing stuff in the basement.

Here's the pride of his work - a new hot water heater:

Our friend, Pete, works at Brown's Oil and acquires practically new equipment like this from tear-outs in Needham. We've been using an older tankless hot water heater, which has been fine for me, but Jim likes a little more water pressure in his showers. The engineer in me doesn't really understand how it is possible to be more efficient to constantly heat up a giant tank of water versus heating up water only when you need it - for a couple showers a day and some dish washing or laundry - but Pete thinks it plus the new boiler will save us a bunch.

Which brings me to the next item - the new boiler...

...also a tear-out aquisition from Pete. This was put into the basement, but hasn't yet been switched over from our current boiler. Jim specifically wanted the picture to strategically capture the "Energy Star" logo. Our old boiler was put in by the previous owners back in the 80s. Definitely not Energy Star. But they kept meticulous records on it and had the efficiency checked multiple times. I believe it came in at about 80%. But it cannot hurt to have a new boiler. Especially a free one.

We also have a new oil tank from more tear-out action from Pete. I don't think there's a problem with our current tank - it is, after all, just a tank, and not a tank with leaks or anything. But who can resist new free stuff from expensive homes? But I do know that Jim has been planning to re-route our tank filling pipe. Right now it comes out right by the back door. Not that the back of our house doesn't have plenty of other ugly things, but it would be a little more aesthetically pleasing to have it come out in a different location.

I think the plan is to switch the new boiler and new oil tank over next week sometime.

The next project was the washer and dryer:

Nothing new with the actual appliances here - they're still the same ones I bought from a friend when I first moved to Massachusetts (aside from some replacement parts on the washer) But the key with these is the pretty stand they are now sitting on!

This is how they used to be positioned:

So annoying - with the washer in front of the sink and far from the dryer. I just kind of got used to it, but it drove Jim bananas. Now look at their position:

So nice - with the direct access to the sink! And such a nice looking stand - made so that not only does it keep the units off the ground (accomplished before with a ratty old wooden pallet), but it also puts them high enough that you don't have to stoop over quite as much. Jim used some of the scrap Azek boards from the porch to create the stand.

And for the next project... electric work!
These pictures won't mean so much unless you actually saw what was there before. While I did have an electrician do a bunch of work when I first moved in, needless to say, with this old house, there was a lot of left-over funky electrical work, particularly quite a bit of knob & tube. While the knob and tube functions fine, there were a few places with bad stuff - like junctions made only with electrical tape. Jim cleaned some of that up and ran some new wire for a new circuit for the LCD TV and I think a new outlet up to the bedroom.

I think that clears out most of the knob and tube, but not all:

At some point, we want to put wall switches into the last rooms where the ceiling lights are left as pull chains - the living room, the master bedroom, and my closet room. Add that one to the "someday" list.

Then this project is another one that has been driving Jim nuts - at the bottom of the steps to the basement, there is this area where the concrete has been chunking off and creating this hole that's essentially a tripping hazard. He cleared it all out:

and poured a new concrete patch. It should be pretty nice to walk down into the basement without kicking around a few chunks of rock or falling into the carpet covered hole!

And the final project - we now have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen!

hey - don't get mad at us for living here 5 1/2 years without one - we asked for one on our wedding registry - but go figure, no one got us one! he he!

And the best picture of all - Jim after his week of hard labor:

He's gotten soft with his cubicle-based job!