Monday, April 28, 2008

Water Conserving Rain Barrels

I get these newsletters, Lowes Creative Ideas for Home and Garden, which I recommend signing up for. It's full of really useful and interesting ideas.

So I got one the other day, and it featured this...water conserving rain barrels. Now, my town charges everyone the same ridiculous amount for water no matter if it's a one person household or four. Which, not for nothing, does nothing to encourage people not to waste water. Most people start getting real lax about their water use after they find this out.

Anyway, my garden is right next to a drain. I'm totally going to do this! Looks pretty easy...not that I have drills to cut nice, neat holes, but I'm sure someone I know does.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The New Layout

a view from the top

First my plan got thrown off because I changed the window above the sink from a 92"W x 25"H two panel slider to a 36W" x 38"H double hung, which meant moving the sink over a foot so it could be centered under the window. Changing the two drawer base cabs from 30" to 36" each solved that problem. But unfortunately, that closed off the entrance to the kitchen from the living room.

front view minus the island After sliding over the fridge to where the 15" pantry would have been, I decided it was definitely too cramped. Then I tried a million different layouts on the planner, stared at the space, drew all over the Hardibacker with crayon and pushed the fridge around several times before settling on the new oven wall layout. I changed the over the fridge cab to a 36" so I could keep my folding step stool there and could accommodate a larger fridge if I ever got a new one. That means no cool under the cabinet step stool, but I can keep the Tupperware there.

oven/fridge/microwave/coffee station wall Equally unfortunate, that new oven wall layout meant I'd only have one pantry. So instead of three 36" wall cabs followed by one 24" pantry, I only have two 36" wall cabs followed by two 24" pantries and an 18" wall/base unit (I figured with a pull out I could put the dog food in there.)

side by side pantries w/ dog food storage pull out (the wall on the right doesn't exist, that's where the family room is)I laid out boxes and other random things creating an obstacle course so I could test the spacing out. After which I decided a 6' long island is too short and 7' is too long, but 6 1/2' was perfect.

the island is facing the wrong way

Friday, April 18, 2008

What I Learned About Composting

I got this composter from someone on Craigslist. I started trying to make compost last fall, thinking that by the summer, I'd have tons of compost. Yeah. Not so much.

(The lid flew off, so don't mind the piece of drywall I put on top.)
  1. Apparently, if you put in a ton of branches, it'll take a ridiculously long time to decompose.
  2. You need to water it. When I picked up this bin and started forking it into a pile, I noticed that most of it was very dry and not doing anything. Apparently keeping it moist actually is important.
  3. Vegetable scraps disappear pretty quickly.
  4. Coffee grounds and filters disappear even faster!
  5. Once you actually figure out what you're doing, you might need to ask your friends and neighbors for their leaves because it starts shrinking very quickly.
  6. It helps to actually turn the stuff, or at least move it around.

So far, I only have about an inch of compost, so keep your fingers crossed for me. Maybe by next summer I'll actually have enough to do something with.

And Our Garden Begins

I discovered the strawberry pot I bought a million years ago and a bag of potting mix laying around the house. Then, while I was at Lowes, I saw they had strawberry plants on clearance for a $1. And not the scraggly, dried up plants, but good, hearty plants. The garden beds aren't remotely prepped yet, but at least we've got something planted. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

FYI Dryer Ductwork

So I had an actual HVAC guy come today, yeah! Remember the original "contractors" who tried using flexible dryer ductwork for the heat? Well pictured above that sad little duct is the flexible, insulated heating ductwork they should have used. Craziness.

Backsplash Options

I think I'm going to wait to make a final backsplash choice. I originally wanted a green, glass subway tile that I saw somewhere in the IKEAfans gallery. Then I found out how expensive it was...yeeowza, talk about sticker shock.

Then I found these and thought, wow...this is perfect!

Then I went and bought an Adel Medium Brown cab from IKEA and held up a drawer front to my floor and backsplash tile and my five hundred thousand paint chips. It looked good with the backsplash tile above, but I actually really liked it with the one below...which I already have two boxes of.
I even have a box of these coppery tiles. I might even have enough to do little accents in the backsplash. Although, if it's going to be an enormous pain in the tuckus to cut the little tiles to insert the accent, then forget it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Ordered the Floor Tile

Someone gave me a couple of boxes of Daltile Passaggio Sorano Brown 18 x 18 tile. I figured, okay, I like it and I think it looks good with the cabinets I'm getting. No problem, right?

Well, then next thing you know, everyone's lecturing me about dye lots. It's going to be a completely different color! Maybe it'll be off a shade or two, but it's not like a different dye lot of Sorano Brown is going to be purple, right? I'll just intermix the tiles. It's going to look stupid, you can't do that!

This is stress I didn't need.

Long story short, I drove down to the Daltile warehouse in Cranbury, NJ and brought one of my tiles with me. I held it up to the tile at the showroom, and guess what? It's the same exact freakin color!

Turns out it was good that I waited to buy it because by the time I went to Home Depot (they don't sell tile at the warehouse/showroom...I don't get it either) they were having a 20% off discount on all special order Daltile. Anywhere I can save a few bucks in a good thing.
UPDATE: 8/27 I've dropped all sorts of things on this tile...even a hammer! Knock on wood, nothing's scratched, stained, cracked or broken these tiles! Definitely don't use that pre-mixed mastic in a tub from Depot or Lowes. Get the latex modified thinset. Buy a cement mixer paddle...they're like less than ten dollars...and mix it yourself. Anyone that tells you it's hard to do is an idiot. I mixed it to a cake batter like consistency, buttered the backs of my 18x18 tile and laid them down. I tried out each tile w/o the thinset to see if I needed a tad more on one side or the other. Level, level, level. And make sure everything is as straight as straight can be. If I could do it, anyone can. Every contractor or construction person I know who's been in here can't believe I did it myself. No ones going to care about how straight or level your tiles are than you will, I say it's way better to do it yourself.

Scouting Out Ideas at IKEA

I took a trek up to the IKEA in Elizabeth hoping for some inspiration on paint colors, tile and countertops...even cabinet layout as I am still reworking those plans everyday...I've developed an OCD.

I've seen a lot of people with the Adel Medium Brown cabinets go dark with everything, and I love it! But, this is hard to explain, I want a sense of fluidity from the kitchen to the family room and out into my garden. Kind of like the outdoors inside...but not. I want it light and bright. But as much as I like the look below, the longer I stood there the more it looked washed out with the light paint, counters and floors.

So then I started thinking of how to do something in between. I've always had light counters without any staining problems. But I think, especially now with the little one, darker counters might be the way to go like the Pragel stone effect black.

But what if I used the dark counters everywhere but how about the Numerar mistletoe pattern green for the island? They have a precut one that measures the size I'd need. It would certainly cut down costs if I didn't have to special order a counter.

Although I started to think it might behoove me to round one corner of the counter to allows for more space between it and the door. The only think I know is that I'm going with laminate. I've never had a problem with it and granite or these new eco-friendly over-priced because they're trendy options really aren't my thing. I guess it's good that I won't be ready for the counters for a few weeks now.

The Windows Have Arrived!

Funny story. I kept getting calls from some 866 number. I assumed it was a telemarketer or maybe someone calling about who I should vote for. Every time that number would pop up I'd get more an more annoyed.

Who are these people? Why are they calling me!? I'm on the do not call list darnit!

Finally, on Friday I was so irritated I picked up the phone all sorts of ready to yell at someone. Yeah, so I'm an idiot. It was a recording letting me know my windows were here a week and a half early.

Oh well. They're here and they look really good! Survivor Reliabilt vinyl windows. They were rated top of the list with Consumer Reports as far as vinyl windows go anyway. They'll start going on this weekend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tips for Painting a Refridgerator

Again, not enough pics, sorry. For example, this is my fridge, but I forgot to take one with the handle still on. And I switched the handle from a the left to the right too! Anyway, I read a bunch of info from various sites and I have to say a lot of them make it sound way more complicated than it is.

As a quick disclosure, let me say that this is what I did and it worked for me. I am no expert, so these are in no way exact directions. I not sure why I felt the need to say all that...

  1. First, I bought four (maybe five) cans of Rust-Oleum Appliance Epoxy in black (it only comes in high gloss, which is what I wanted, so no problem there). I also picked up Plasti Dip, which is this rubberizing spray paint. I'd also recommend both paint thinner and remover. I'll talk more about that later.

  2. Wash down the fridge. Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner worked amazingly well! Who knew? I sprayed it on, let it sit, and everything just wiped right off. Then I wiped it down with plain water. Some people recommend a diluted ammonia mix, and all sorts of complicated things like scrubbing every crevice with a toothbrush. Here's the thing, I didn't expect so much over-spray, so I didn't clean off the top. It had all sorts of yuck on there and I wound up spraying right over it without a problem.

  3. Now here's a very important tip: make sure you have your windows and doors open, and if possible put up a tarp to block of fumes from other rooms.

  4. Equally important: there's going to be a lot more over-spray than you'd expect. Wear a really good mask (I actually had paint inside my nostrils the first round of spraying!) and cover yourself head to toe...I'd go as far as to recommend a ski mask.

  5. If you wind up covered in paint because you don't believe it'll be that bad, it's okay, it will come out of your hair...on your head and on your arms...and off the rest of you if you scrub really well with soap and water. Go to the dollar store and grab those scrubby bath mitts, works wonders.

  6. Once it's completely dry, remove the handles. Then tape off anything you don't want sprayed. I kept my gaskets, since new ones would have run me almost $200...I know, right? I had no idea they'd be that expensive. If you're going to keep yours, tape them off too or they get too hard and your fridge probably won't close right.

  7. Spray on a light coat. Short strokes, maybe four or five inches tops at a time. Wave your hand back and forth pretty quickly. It'll be splotchy and look weird, but it's okay.

  8. The can said to wait at least a half hour, but I sprayed in the morning then waited until the next morning to spray again. Probably overkill, but definitely make sure it's completely dry, not tacky, before spraying again.

  9. Repeat the spraying process another three to four times. Always light coats and be on the lookout for spots, bubbles or runny paint. If you notice any, put some paint thinner on a rag and smooth it out.

  10. (I know when I bought the paint thinner, I thought it was the same thing as paint remover. It's not. It will not really remove paint, it'll just make it, well, thin. Then you can wipe it off with a paper towel or whatever. I probably could've used actual paint remover, but I made due with the thinner.)

  11. After the last coat dried I lightly rubbed down the whole thing with paint thinner and I really think it helped with the paint looking more even and shiny. Maybe it was all in my head, who knows.

  12. Remove the tape from the gaskets and lightly spray them, unless you don't mind the gaskets being a different color.

  13. I had a lot of issues painting the inside strip on the door. I think the best way to do that would probably be to unplug and defrost first. I think the cold and condensation screwed it up. I'm going to try going over it with permanent black market.

  14. As for the handles, rubber paint does not work like regular paint. You can't tape stuff off then peel, because all the paint comes up. Spraying then immediately taking off the tape is time consuming and also, not so effective. Trying to cut the paint with an exacto knife so it doesn't pull up, doesn't work either. My fellow lazy people, take the handles completely apart! Unless you want to just spray all the chrome areas too, but I thought that would look weird.

  15. You also can't tape over the brand name emblem. It's glued on, so just peel it off carefully and stick it back on when it's all over.

  16. I may spray on a final coat of clear paint, but I'm not sure. I'll keep you posted on that one.

I think it looks really great. Definitely an easy DIY project. And a whole heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new fridge!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Construction Winds Down

I've been bad about the picture taking. I can only do so much at one time people! Anyway, as you can see the drywall is almost completely up.

A vent pipe needs to go in before the other section can get drywalled. But now the two 36W x 38H windows are now framed out. The one on the left was re-framed from a 92W x 25H slider, believe it or not. I'm keeping the sliders in the bedrooms and bathrooms, but I thought the front of the house would look more normal with double hungs. Plus, the smaller double hungs cost a lot less than sliders that size.

The Hardibacker is down and sealed with thinset. First the joist in the middle (since the first contractors apparently didn't know how to use a level) was uneven, we had to sawzall it off. Then we stomped on it to push it down and renailed it so it was as level as it could get. Man, it's always something, isn't it?

The hardest part of this remodel has been not having a sink, stove or oven. I'm not a big fast food eater. I'm also not a big microwave person...other than popcorn. Eating all this processed food is making me physically ill. I picked up this package of Cup of Noodles just so I'd something quick and easy to make. They're actually pretty good, I just wish one cup didn't have 49% of the sodium I need all day. It doesn't even taste salty! Ugh.

And don't suggest fruit and veggies. I hate eating things I had to wash in the bathroom sink. The water in there tastes all sorts of weird. I had to load our strawberries up with sugar not to notice it. Double ugh.