Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Progress on the grounds....the edible kind

All I can say is that it is gratifying to plant something and watch it grow.  These are plantings for the future, so that when the big house is finished, it will feel more like home.  I wasn't banking on these trees producing this year, I just wanted to plant them and let them establish a footing in the soil.  A few of them have surprised me.

The fig tree is starting to produce tiny figs.

After a vigorous spraying to get rid of the ants and aphids, the apple tree has produced some tiny apples.

The citrus performance has been spotty, producing many blooms and dropping many.  I think they just may be too young yet, they need some time.  In the meantime, I see the trunks thickening and the trees getting bigger.  These are the Orlando Tangelos.  

The avocado tree will definitely not be producing, for a looong time.

Here, an out of focus olive from the olive tree, so I'll look forward to my harvest of one.

This is a continuing experiment, next year may see some of these trees being ripped up and placed in another location in the garden.  Still trying to plot the path of the sun through the oaks, to determine the best place for the trees.

A project in process...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cedar beams, what to do?

The cedar beams were one of the things I liked about the house, but not the color.  I wanted them to return to their natural color.

Maybe sanding, yes, even I knew this was going to be a gargantuan task, working upside down, the dust, just the thought of all of that work....  I googled, looked to see how others have solved this problem, mostly, they repainted.  I especially enjoyed where the woodworking boards discussed some woman who wanted to refinish cedar beams, and all of the recommendations they made to persuade them to change their minds.  I knew I was not alone.  The green was dull, and not a part of my future color scheme.

I knew I wouldn't be doing this alone. After consulting with some local craftsmen, they opened my eyes to what an enormous task this would be.  They said I had over $3,000 worth of cedar, all of the beams are solid, some of them 15 ft long.  I didn't know, and it didn't stop there.  They couldn't figure out how they were attached, they said something about not being responsible for the damage.

What to do,  we decided to drop the ceiling in the living area, and the beams came down.  These beams were bolted from the attic holding them in place, and no one wanted to take that project on.  What they recommended was rebuilding the beams in the form of boxes, or faux beams.  That way I could run the electrical wires in the hollow portion for cleaner lines on the ceiling.  This would mean, you could have whatever color you wanted.  The estimate for that was a starting price of $2,000.

Enter, the insanity, and the idea I could have what I wanted with a little elbow grease.  This is where we explore stripping the beams, it couldn't be easier, right?  I applied the stripper, waited an hour, and pressure cleaned the surface.  Oh and this meant I could buy myself cool rubber boots :)

It doesn't all come off, but this is better than the green.  There was a bit of trial and error here, if the stripper was left too long, it would dry, and not come off.  It would even be more difficult to get off even if you applied the stripper again.

Today, the last beam is finished.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all that forced water doesn't warp the beams as they are drying.  As a precaution, I have stacked the beams in the house, hoping the weight will keep them straight.

The pressure washer ripped up some of the grain on the beams, so either hand plane, or polish them with an orbital sander and sandpaper.  The next step will involve some experimentation.

Friday, May 6, 2016

It's cedar time...

When I bought this property, our philosophy was to balance spending with "do no harm".  So, we didn't want to needlessly spend money on every little thing, because there have been, and continue to be little things that need tending.  The harm would have been to my budget.  Instead, we focused on things that needed to be addressed immediately.  There were two cedar trees pushing against the fence line, right next to electrical wires, and within the range of my neighbor's house, (an elderly couple).  Those needed to come down immediately.  My brother had the idea of cutting the trunk into 8' lengths, with an eye to making something out of them in the future.  We hired a professional to do this.

These were cut down last April, and we finally got them to a saw mill to be cut into planks.  We left them to dry, stacked on the lawn for over a year.  The cut areas were painted with latex to keep the cracking at a minimum.  The theory, is that it slows evaporation of the sap.  We have 1" and 1 1/4" planks.  The 1" will be used for closet shelves, and the 1 1/4" will be used for a dining room table top.

We did learn a few things, the saw mill operator offered to run them through a planer, which smooths out the surface, so less sanding when we polish them.  Unfortunately, his planer was very narrow, and he had to cut the planks narrower than I would have liked, but we know for next time.

We also had two short stumps which are now coffee tables on my patio, it's rustic, but perfect for the area.

Next the cedar beam project...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wabi Sabi Mosaic

Finally the bungalow is completely tiled. It's been a challenging week, fuzzy butt went on walk about as the sun was setting, so for 2.5 hours I was in pitch black calling his name.  He had made it off the property, crossed the road and set about discovering the neighboring properties in the dark, and all I could think was this kitty will not make it back, he has no front claws and there are snakes, raccoons, bears, and large country cats.  Here he is after his venture, calmly eating his dinner, while mommy pours herself a glass of wine.

We have completed the tiling portion of the work on the little house.
We have added another 170 sq feet of living space, after enclosing the patio in glass and tiling.
Here we used the Schluter trim again, being careful not to cover the existing track in case that ever has to be replaced.  I was undecided between using one or two lines of the bamboo pencil thin tiles.

I finally went with the two strips of bamboo for balance, which was painful, each tile moving independently.  It looks like an ancient mosaic, not perfect by any means, but it's mine.

We had a space heater set up to keep the room under freezing temperatures, so the mortar sets up properly.

Boots has found a new home in a champagne box.

This has to be my favorite space in the house, perfect for watching the setting sun and the crazy country cats.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm never painting again......

Finally, the knobs have been installed, range hood is still missing because I'm undecided.


Many hours spent demolishing, planning, second guessing, tiling and painting. This was the test project for Farrow & Ball paint.  The walls are blackened estate emulsion, the top cabinets are wevet, the bottom, blue black in eggshell.  

Now onto the next kitchen...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inspiration for a creative life...

I recently found this blog and got lost... I love her hands.

 Spirit Cloth.

At the end of my current project, I have a fantasy that I can live a little like this textile artist.  I love the way she interprets her musings and transfers them to fabric.  This is not an easy thing to do, how many times have we started a project with an idea of the final result, and we end up somewhere else.  This isn't necessarily bad but when you have a fixed destination and you end up a neighborhood over, it can be frustrating.

This can happen with sewing projects, as well as home renovations.  I thinks it's only when we exercise out creative muscles that we get there quicker.

Speaking of practice,  I think I've forgotten how to sew!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

We have a visitor

We are almost finished with the demolition, just one small attic area above the patio that needs to be cleared of insulation, and 50 sq feet of tile needs to be removed.

In the meantime, walls have been going up and coming down.  Closets have been added, cubbies have been planned.  Plenty of head scratching over how to layout the laundry room, with the placement of a dryer vent next to the hot water heater.  How it was arranged before is a mystery.

We sat outside to ponder the changes when we spotted this. Yes it looks to be a bear paw.  Estimated to be 150 -300 lbs.  This would explain why the chain link fence is bent, despite efforts to straighten it.  A neighbor would later confirm that there is a mama and cub that cross over the fence and take a drink from the cove.  I will have to be vigilant when coming home at night.

 They cross just a few feet from the outside wall of the master bedroom.  The plan is to place a security camera there to catch them in the act.

Bear scat

Monday, November 2, 2015

The life changing magic of tidying up....

Spark joy and tidy your house, this is the underlying message from Marie Kondo.

Packing necessitates putting my hands on every single possession.  This book came to me via my sister in law who supports my decluttering efforts.  It's a very easy read and it's a little book, so you will finish it quickly.  The process, however will take longer.  She recommends that you declutter by category, the first of which is clothing. This means finding all of the clothes in your house and piling it all together, and sorting through it all at once.  Keeping only things that spark joy.  Since most of my clothes have become painting clothes, there is little joy here.

My knit sweaters have already been sorted and stored.  Another element to this system is that things are stored folded on  end. I'll give anything a try once.  The reasoning behind this is visibility and efficient use of drawer space.  You can see everything at once, and you can store a ton.

This is two drawers worth of sweaters  in one drawer, with space left over.

If you lookup Konmari folding you'll find all manner of youtube videos for folding techniques.

The sock drawer is next, apparently this is wrong. According to Marie Kondo, when you ball up socks, the elastic doesn't hold up as well, and you are being disrespectful to them.  This makes me chuckle, I didn't know I was being disrespectful. I thought this was an efficient way of keeping them paired up, but I tried her method anyway.

The socks were paired up folded in three, standing on edge.  The addition of a box inside the drawer to keep them tidy, and this is what we get.

I'm actually amazed, at how much space was found.  There are some lessons here I would love to employ with the fabric collection when the house is done.
I may even write to her to ask about it.

In the meantime tidying is always a good idea and the older I get the more important it is.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The finished mid century sofa reupholster project

The goal was to change the dirty covers, plump the cushions up a bit and have a nice sofa for staging and beyond. The first time I've sat in front of a machine in a long time, I really miss it.


I even tried to keep the original covers, they were much improved after washing, but between shrinkage and restuff ing,  they were way too small.  They will be re cycled into cat bed material.  The top is the dirty example the bottom is clean, and the colors pop now, lucky kitty.

In the end, I kept the original foam  which was in good shape, and wrapped it in two types of batting.  One cushion wrap, which is thick and stiff  the other was the final wrapping with soft n crafty, both available at Joann's.  

Instead of drafting a pattern, the cloth was draped over the cushions, marked, and reproduced two times to complete the seats.

Here are some in process pics, stuffing before and after.

Draping bottom cushion.

This project was aprox $90, with fabric from Boca Bargoon's moving sale (chocolate brown wool flannel), the batting from Joann's, purchased with coupons, and the 3m super 77 adhesive used to keep the batting from shifting.  

It's good to have the cushions installed in the frame again, so the living room is beginning to get its dignity back. Time to celebrate with a little couch potato Netflix binge watching, before I get back to painting ......