Sunday, May 14, 2017

Deadlines - Part 4

It took us most of Saturday afternoon and into the early evening, but the gigantic mulch pile is finally gone.

There was a little delay late in the day when we re-evaluated the health of several shrubs.  When we created the plant list a few weeks ago, not everything had started to bud out yet. At the time it wasn't obvious that several of the Ninebarks in the front hadn't survived the winter. And over the past week it became obvious that one of the Taunton Yews was toast as well.

So I made another trip to Gertens to get the three replacements. Not surprisingly the place was a zoo at 3:30 on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. But I survived to tell the tale.

Today the plan is to get started on some of the annual beds. That's going to take longer than just a single day, though...

In the meantime here are some photos of what's blooming elsewhere in the yard.

The Apple trees are in fine form this year.

The new Magnolia that I planted last weekend will be magnificent in years to come. The blooms are already mostly spent and look a little tired, but this one remains largely intact. It's nearly as big as my hand!

And the new Hibiscus that anchors one of the annual beds had already recovered nicely from being transplanted and is obviously happy in its new home. Once the tulips are done blooming, this bed will be filled with annuals to surround the hibiscus.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Deadlines - Part 3

Everybody helped in between activities throughout the weekend. We managed to get the back and side yard done. The front bed and driveway beds remain.

At the lower right is one of the annual beds that will get tackled soon, too.

There are a few trees and shrubs left to be planted throughout the week.

I didn't count up how many I already planted (it's 25, plus another 5 or 6 that were moved - ed), but these 8 remain and will go along the driveway. They'll replace shrubs that have been destroyed by the wascally wabbits...

And some decent progress was made against the enormous pile of mulch.

This is what remains at the end of the day Sunday.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Deadlines - Part 2

It may be difficult to hold back your emotions from the sudden change in posting frequency, but there's a deadline looming. And SWMBO, Jr is in charge...

The day after we picked up the plants, this happened.

He managed to squeeze in between the house and the fence to drop his load.

And here's the view from the other end of a 30 cubic yard pile of mulch.

That's the same amount as we had delivered several years ago.

It looks bigger this time.

Probably because I'm older...

That wheelbarrow won't move itself, so it's time to get to work!


It's been a long time since my previous post. There have been may deadlines in other parts of my life that have gotten in the way of the house. Or have meant that I just didn't have the emotional energy to get any projects done.

Well, now there's a looming deadline that requires work to be done around the house...

Earlier in the week I was stylin' in a big van.

They didn't have a "load-and-go" truck available at the time, so I took this instead. It worked out just fine, though. Everything was inside and protected from the wind.

Had I not paused to eat supper, I'd have had it back in the minimum rental period.

It's actually a good deal because for somethings the delivery charge is way more than the rental cost for this van for 90 minutes...

And here are the lovely items it was used to self-deliver.

Mostly, they are the replacements for the various dead plants resulting from the past couple of winters.

A few are the "players to be named later", as it were. They will replace some shrubs that died years ago and were removed, but were not replaced at the time.

The plan/hope is to get these installed over the weekend, because there's a deadline coming where the yard has to look good...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Secret Room

Because it is secret, I can't share too much about it.

But those who have been here know where it is...

The room has been mostly done for quite a while.

All that remained were the finishing touches to make it look like the inside of Jeannie's bottle from "I Dream Of Jeannie".

Just prior to our most recent party, we did the remaining work.

And now that I've posted this for all the world to see, the room is not so secret anymore.

First, around the room going clockwise:

Now toward the sloping ceiling:

And last, from inside looking back toward the door:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Laundry Room - Part 5

While we were fighting with people over timezones and counters, I installed the artwork in the laundry room.

Yes, SWMBO wanted artwork in the laundry room.

We found it in a little shop in Oakes, North Dakota last summer.

The Laundry Room is finally done!

The Laundry Room - Part 4

Previously, I'd installed the cabinets and called to make the appointment for the counters to get measured.

There was a little messing about to get schedules to work out for the measure, but the guy arrived mostly on time and it it went off mostly without a hitch.

A week or so later the folks from the Big Orange box left a voicemail to confirm the color we'd selected and to tell us that there was less material needed than originally thought, so we'd be getting a refund.

I returned the call to confirm the color so they could start fabricating.  I'm not sure how much fabricating needs to be done for two chunks of counter each about 30 inches wide, but whatever...

After a week or so the fabricator called to set the install date. The window was 11 am - 1 pm.

On the appointed day 11 am comes and goes.

Noon comes and goes.

1 pm comes and goes.

At 2 pm SWMBO calls to ask where the installer was. "He's running a couple hours behind," was the reply.

Like clockwork, at 3 pm he shows up and gets started.  But SWMBO has an appointment at 3:30 and I 'm at work with a day full of meetings trying to keep the world from falling apart. So we agree to break the rules in the installation guide that say "there must be an adult present at all times during the installation" and leave SWMBO Jr in charge (note - this is not a portend that she messed anything up).

When I get home that night everything looks fine and the sink is dry-fit in the hole.

During the rest of the week, I gather the remaining supplies necessary to install the sink and set to work on the weekend.

Following the installation instructions, I remove the sink from the hole and install the mounting clips to the underside. Then I attempt to dry-fit the sink again.

Yes you read that right...


The hole in the counter wasn't cut to allow for the mounting clips.

So we call again to make an appointment to have the installer come out and enlarge the hole. He only needs to make the hole 1/4-inch wider at two spots; each about 1.5-inches long.

So the appointment gets made. Again with a 2 hour window.

The appointed start time comes and goes.

The midpoint comes and goes.

The end of the window comes and goes.

So SWMBO calls.  Again she is informed that, "he's running 2 hours late and we'll have to reschedule since neither adult can be there."

After SWMBO lights him up about why no adults can be there (Yo! Dude! Show up on time and we'll be there!), he finally relents and says we can have the first appointment of the day on Saturday, even they though they don't normally do Saturday appointments.

He arrived on time yesterday morning and got the work done properly.  In the afternoon I installed the sink and today the faucet.

I can't tell you how many times throughout this process the scheduler told me over the phone, "We want to make sure you give us a perfect 10 on our customer satisfaction survey, so we have our best people on your job."

Maybe so, but how about setting your watches to Central time.

And no 10 for you...

P.S. - The refund that actually made it to our credit card was only 2/3 of what she said it would be.  Now I get to go back to the store and straighten that crap out too...

P.P.S. - This is the first and last time we use the Home Services option from a big box store. I should have known from the horrific experience via the Blue Box at a previous house that my expectations at the Orange Box should be low. I'd have been better off if I just bought the d*mn specialty tools and done it myself.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Laundry Room - Part 3

All the chaos about the laundry room was driven by a deadline.

We hosted a party here today (Saturday) and the mountains of laundry needed to get dealt with beforehand.

After all the painting during the week, I stalled the cabinets yesterday.

Fortunately the floor is pretty close to level, so the installation went pretty easily.

Now I can call to get the counters measured. I'm not sure how long it will take to fabricate them, but we've done without them for 8 years. Another couple of weeks won't really matter in grand scheme of things.

We've already purchased the sink and faucet that will function as the laundry tub.

And the artwork will get hung at some point in the future.

And there's a story behind the cabinets, too...

We'd ordered them at the Big Orange Box just after Thanksgiving and were told they'd take 4-6 weeks. We promptly forgot about them knowing that they'd call us when they came in.

(Segue to what appears to be an unrelated story for now...)

I wanted a new workbench and my mother-in-law funded my purchase as a Christmas gift. I found the one I wanted at the Big Orange Box. I checked their website and they had several in stock at a local store just after the new year. The store associate couldn't find them where the system said they should be. After following him around the store for a bit I asked about the "Store Pickup" option on their website. He said that in that case they'd locate it and call me when it was ready for pickup at the service counter.

So I used my phone to place the order and told him I'd be back... ;-)

Later in the day I received the text that my order was ready for pickup.

Knowing that it weighed 150 pounds, I took SWMBO with me to help load it in the car.

We drove to the store and talked to the lady at the service counter. As she was pulling up my info she mentioned that she was just getting ready to call me to say the order was ready. I was impressed.

She said she needed to have it brought up from the loading dock and that if we needed anything else we could go get it and she could process everything at once.

So we went and ordered the blinds for the kitchen and grabbed some other stuff we needed. When we came back she rang us up and gave me the pick-up receipt. When we walked up I hadn't seen anything that looked like the box I was expecting for the workbench (6ft x 3ft x 6-8 inches - some assembly required), so I asked where our order was.  She replied, "On the flatbed cart behind you."

I turned around to see a cart with 5 or 6 big boxes on it, not what I expected. Puzzled, I started to ask why the workbench was in so many boxes, then paused while I looked more closely at the pick-up receipt...

It slowly dawned on me that these were the laundry room cabinets we ordered a month before.

So we pushed the cart out to the parking lot and...

None of the boxes would fit in our SUV.

So I trudged back into the store. And asked the lady at the service desk about the other order I was there to pick up. After looking it up on the computer she said, "No problem. I'll have them bring it out from the back"

I said, "Thanks, and have them bring it over to rentals, please. I need a truck..."

$20 and 20 minutes later - me and my girl are high-stylin' it in a Load-N-Go F-250 with a big orange logo on the side...

The Fishbowl Is No More

SWMBO always wanted to have window treatments in the kitchen. There are four large windows and it feels a bit like a fishbowl, especially after dark.

After some thought, we decided that blinds would be the best option to allow light in, but still allow for some privacy when it's appropriate.

The blinds arrived last week and I installed them over the weekend without any challenges.

Also last week, the cornice boards arrived. Once I finished installing the blinds I started on the cornice boards.

As with many things, there is a story behind these as well. Or I should say, there's a story behind the fabric.

The fabric is a custom pattern from a friend (Hi Schu!) who owns Miss Chiff Designs. She offered to design something for us and we went back and forth for a bit. SWMBO loves cheese and the theme was settled upon.

There was some more back and forth as we were working on colors and what the design should actually look like. At one point she tried another option and sent it to us, saying that she wasn't sure we'd like it.

Of course, we loved it...

And she put it up on her website so we could order a sample.

Within minutes the design was attracting a lot of positive attention and quickly became her most popular design.

I'm still thinking we should get a royalty check every once in a while... ;-)

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Laundry Room - Redux

 (Dramatic music plays in the background as our hero once again rolls the large stone up the hill just to see it roll back down,  Lather. Rinse. Repeat...)

Way back... I scrambled to paint the laundry room before the new appliances were delivered.

The color scheme was carefully chosen by SWMBO.

After everything was in, she informed me that she didn't like the color...

(Fast forward to last fall as the kitchen is wrapping up.)

For a variety of reasons - mostly that we needed to chase mechanicals up to the attic and therefore punch access holes in the laundry room walls - we never purchased and installed the rest of the bits for the laundry room. The laundry tub is one example.

After completing the kitchen, finishing the laundry room was next on the list.  I'd already fixed the holes in the walls while doing other repair work this summer. And we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, so went to the Big Orange Box and ordered the cabinets, sink, faucet, and countertop. Everything came as promised and is sitting in the garage waiting to be installed because...

The laundry room needed to be repainted...

SWMBO and our designer consultant came up with a plan and a sketch.  The plan incorporated the colors of the appliances, the window treatments, and countertop.

After creating a 2x2 foot sample board implementation, no one was happy with the original design.

So I repainted the sample board with the new design. Everyone was happy. At least I only had to repaint a 2x2 sample board... So I started painting the room.

  • Repaint the ceiling to white.
  • Repaint the walls to Ivory Tusk.
  • Wait 24 to 48 hours for the paint to cure so that I could...
  • Tape off appropriately for the red stripes.
  • Paint the red stripes using a foam brush.
  • Remove the tape.
  • Free-hand a paint pen with the black highlights.

When I got halfway around the room, I asked SWMBO to come see the results...

There was disapproval (hers)...

And then gnashing of teeth (mine)... And lots of bad words uttered...

She had a suggestion about what to do and I encouraged her to give it a try because I was frustrated...

The left portion of the photo is the result.

More disapproval...

More gnashing of teeth and bad words...

Because now I know I have to re-paint this d*mn room again!

After I took a sanity break and erased the sample board, I had an idea...

And created a new sample board.

And got approval.

The new idea meant I needed to repaint only half of the room because I could salvage the parts where there were red stripes, but I hadn't done the black accents yet. There were still multiple steps involved though.

  • Repaint the base color on the wall.
  • Wait 24 to 48 hours for the paint to cure so that I could...
  • Tape off appropriately for the red stripes.
  • Paint the red stripes using a foam brush.
  • Remove the tape from alternating new stripes and re-tape alternating existing stripes.
  • Use a foam brush to paint over alternating stripes with black paint.

After all the tape was removed, we ended up with this...

And from another angle.

Success was declared because SWMBO is happy!

(For the record I'm not entering this room with a paint brush or roller ever again!)

Zoom in on the window treatment.  The pattern on the fabric is French maids doing laundry.

To the left of the window is a drying rack that folds out from the wall.

Now, on to the cabinets!