Mother’s Day in a Balaclava

I really wish I had snapped a picture of my mother’s day outfit. I mean, it was stunning. First off, a painter’s balaclava, old long sleeve shirt, ratty jeans, goggles, and a face mask. Where was the red carpet when I needed it?

Enough sarcasm! Let’s update…I was on a deadline to finish up the ceiling painting because I wanted to have that completed before the contractors came though to refinish the wood floors. This is logical…if I screwed up the process of using my new handy dandy paint sprayer on the ceiling, the mess would simply be sanded off into oblivion.

This meant priming the ceiling with oil-based primer. I did this using a roller because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of using my sprayer for the first time and having to clean it up with mineral spirits. Yuck. Saturday I taped up the floors and primed. Sunday I re-read the paint sprayer instructions for the third time and mustered up the courage to dive in. I taped up plastic sheeting (this took two hours) to make sure there wouldn’t be any overspray onto the rest of the living room. The process went fairly well once I got the hang of how to hold the sprayer and how long it went without having to unclog the nozzle or refill the paint container.

There are a few spots I need to touch up, as well as the disappointing dry wall patch, but I am trying to Let It Go.

Also, after everything dried on Sunday evening, my partner and I rushed to move all the furniture and get our kids ready to live downstairs for three days while the hardwood floor was refinished.

I didn’t think this transition would be a big deal since we were already living without a real kitchen, but it was tough. We have no space to give each other space. But, we made it through and I was so impressed with the job they did patching the holes in the floor and sanding and sealing it all. It is beautiful (and already has some scuffs and dents, but that is Life).

Here’s a picture after the patching, and the first run of sanding, letting the slurry coat dry. The slurry coat fills in the cracks and dries like glue.

Here’s a mid-way finish shot, with the hardener drying:

Here’s  final shot:

Actually, I may have those last two photos backwards. Either way, I love my floors!

Next post will be on the beginnings of cabinet assembly and island construction.



Please, can I pay you money to fix my walls?!

It’s been awhile since I had anything to update regarding the kitchen. Why? I was sitting around eating dark chocolate and writing poetry. You don’t believe me? Right on.

After the electrician finished up, I started hunting down a drywall contractor to patch the ceiling and walls. I had started my search before the electrician, but ran into many contractors who were 3 to 4 weeks out. Then when I found one who was willing to come out for an estimate, he might or might not show up. Or, he might, or might not get back to me with the numbers. I had exhausted the list of professionals that had been referred to me by word of mouth. So, as much as I have avoided buying a subscription to Angie’s List, I did so to get more information about recommendations. After calling a number of places, one of the Big Remodeling Businesses got back to me and came out for an estimate. I did email him back to check up on the estimate. It came back more than I expected, but I jumped to get on his schedule regardless. It had now been 4 weeks and I was ready to get this started.

While waiting to get on the drywall contractors schedule, I had a plumber out to look over the old plumbing and make sure it was up to snuff, as well as change out the old water supply valves (both of which were leaking).

Then, I received a call from the drywall contractor that they would be out the next day. And this brings us to the topic of blocking, or securing wood to the studs in order to support something you want to hang on the wall later.

Well, I still had not solidified my blocking plans. I had worked on the blocking for the vent hood, and my partner helped secure the blocking to the studs. I needed to do the blocking for what I wanted to be floating shelves from reclaimed wood. I did a ton of research and ran into a common practice of using threaded rods (like long bolts) into the blocking and then drilling out holes in the shelf material. This is the approach we are attempting. So, as soon as I got the call that the drywall contractors were coming the next day, I hit the Big Orange guys for some threaded rods. Then got the idea to hit another local hardware store where I sweetly asked the guys in the machine department to cut them to length for me. (So thankful!!) Then, I went home and got to work prepping the walls for the next day. I still hadn’t secured a 2” x 4” in the attic (left dangling from removing the wall). So on one of the hottest days of the spring, I was up in the attic with a screw driver making it happen.

Then my partner came home and we debated the floating shelf blocking. We winded up only putting two rods per 22” of floating shelf up. We shall see if it holds the shelves and the dishes. Fingers crossed!

Here’s a few photos of the patching and mudding:

Here’s the metal rods to support the floating shelf. The Wonderboard is going to support the heavy wall tile.

Things did not go smoothly (does it ever?) for the drywalling process. Apparently there is “something wrong” with the house. The contractors were thinking it was some sort of contamination (cigarette smoke, etc.) that made the mudding just fall off the walls. In the end, it took them an extra 5 hours, and then I had 3 to 4 bubbles in the ceiling that they had to come back and patch. (Sorry about the blurry picture. This was the only one I snapped, post drywall patching.)

The patches were not perfect, but that brings me to the next post, on painting ceilings and prepping for the floor to be patched and refinished. Thanks for hanging in this long!



Kitchen Remodel: Electrical rough-in

This week we had the electrician come out to tackle the electrical rough-in. This entailed:

(1) Moving the light switches. Once the wall came down, we needed to relocated the switches on that wall.

(2) Upgrading to GFIs. The outlets near the sink were not GFIs. Also, apparently, the outlet on the island would need to be a GFI (I didn’t know this until they were done).

(3) Running a line for an outlet on the island: In our county, when you have a permanent kitchen island, an outlet is required on the island.

They ran the line from the wing wall next to where the fridge will be.

(4) Moving an existing outlet: Moving the outlet on the wall near the oven, farther to the right. (They also added another outlet on that wall.)

(5) Installing a new outlet in a closet: Across the hallway from the kitchen is a coat closet at the top of the stairs. My plan is to turn it into a panty with a counter on which I can place a small microwave.

(6) Installing can lighting in the kitchen and the living area: remodel types, LED, safe for insulation.

(7) Moving the current hard-wired drop for the ceiling light to centered over the island.

It took them (a husband/wife team) a whole day and another half. The most impressive was how they routed the electrical line for the island under the floor. I was so thankful this was easy, no need for any drop from the ceiling and an unsightly beam in which to hold it.

The local code inspector came out the next day to sign off on the rough-in. I’ll have to call him back out once the walls are up and the switches and outlets are installed for the final electrical inspection.

Here’s a few pictures of the overall plan and the counter top, tile, and cabinet colors. Imagine a counter top in the picture, and the cabinet doors are a more matte black, and the tile is bigger, and the fridge is black, and the vent hood is stainless steel. Basically, you have to REALLY use your imagination and I can safely say I have no idea how this is all going to work out.

The aggregate looking stuff is the countertop, a Caesarstone. The wall tile is in the grey family, it is shiny in some light. The cabinet doors will be a matte black.

This week I hope to finalize/schedule the work to replace the window and get an idea of how much the fix to the wood floor will cost.  


A DIY IKEA Kitchen Remodel

I like this spot on the web to be a contemplative place for myself, but I’m going to change gears and catalog my experience with remodeling my kitchen. Just to have for posterity. To remind myself of the craziness when I think about remodeling the bathrooms. Also, if it can help anyone else plan, budget (which is why I’m including prices), and mentally prepare themselves, it will be worth it.

First off, our house, purchased 2 years ago, is a 1973 bi-level in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think they upgraded the kitchen in all that time. They may have stripped the cabinets (there was evidence of a dark stain sprayed on the inside of cabinets) and repainted, replaced the dishwasher at some point, but that’s about it. My apologies for the out-of-focus before pictures below. The rest of the pictures are all pretty bad, cell phone pictures. Sorry.

I was seduced by the IKEA Kitchen sale, 20% including the Ceasarstone countertop. In my mind I had a $10,000 budget. I knew, or thought I knew, it could be done for that or less. I heard all sorts of crazy estimates, downward of $25,000 for a budget remodel, to $100,000 for something extravagant. Ah, my punk self thought I would beat them all. We’ll see.

My plans in place, I bought the cabinets, and secured an order on the counter tops. I should have made sure that I could take out the wall before buying anything. Oh well, it turned out okay, but first off, I contacted a local architect to see if I could take down the wall and get an opinion on my plan and some other house issues. $500 later and I got an “80% sure the wall can come down. Call a structural engineer.” I called a structural engineer and got the okay; the walls can come down, but don’t be surprised if cracks in the ceiling show up due to settling. He also suggested I consider taking out my old insulation and replacing it up to code. I applied for all the permits ($400 in total): electrical, and a building permit that covered removing and replacing the old insulation, as well as taking down the two walls.

Next up, I heard the local electrical company was giving out rebates for improving your attic insulation. I could tell this was something we needed badly…keeping warm air in the home is a big deal up here. We were at about an R4, when we needed to be at R39. I contracted a company to remove the old insulation (which I had had tested to insure there was no asbestos in it), and replace the insulation after the electrician came out to install the ceiling lights. This came to the tune of $2300. Ugh. I did the math, for me to do this myself it would take $400 in materials/rentals and two days of hard labor to do the work myself. Plus, $1200 and another two days of labor to install the new insulation. I couldn’t take another 4 days away from homeschooling the kids.

Currently, the insulation has been removed, and we have started the kitchen demo. The wall cabinets and some of the base cabinets have been removed (two trips to the dump later). The drywall on the walls has been removed, mostly, as well as some studs. I removed the dishwasher yesterday, and just narrowly missed flooding my kitchen (which is on the upper floor). The water supply valve (yes, I had shut off the water, but it) was corroded and failed.

How are we feeding ourselves? I set up a camp-like kitchen in my bathroom on the lower level. I tore out the old vanity and installed a utility sink (scored for $15 at a second-hand store), and a make-shift counter space. I bought a Ninja 3-in-1 cooking appliance, and my neighbor gifted me an electric oven. We’re making due. I am thankful for running water and a space to cook.

I’ll share some more about the finishes I chose, tile, counter, etc. next time.


The statue said, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” from the Seattle Space Needle garden.



The mushroom pushes
Its soft skull
Up through the soil,

Spreads its frail
Ribs into full
Pale bloom,

And floats,
A dim ghost,
Above the tomb

Where an oak’s
Old dust lies
Flourishing still


by Valerie Worth from all the small poems and fourteen more


I can’t get enough of this album. Great for those quiet, passionate evenings. I’ve been singing into my broomstick.


I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.

Willa Cather (1873 - 1947)O Pioneers! (1913)


horse chestnut

Almost the best

Thing about a 

Horse chestnut

Is that it just

Fits the hand,

And can be

Held hidden,

A secret

Shining brown 

In the mind.

-Valerie Worth

Lock and load, baby!

Lock and load, baby!