Monday, July 21, 2008

Look What We Did! is having a little contest where we get to show off our proudest moments in DIY home ownership. It's sponsored by True Value. I could surely use the $300 prize for my house fixings!

I know what my proudest moment ISN'T... but thinking of a favorite moment is a little harder. After careful deliberation, and a morning cup of tea in my favorite space... I have an answer!

This space is right behind the house and next to the garage. It is shaded by two apple trees.

While we worked, we used the picnic table as a workbench. Using a circular saw with a diamond blade, we sliced limestone slabs salvaged from my father-in-law's scrap pile into varied rectangular pavers. We beveled the edges with a belt sander to give a little more interest to the patterns.

The edges of the patio are salvaged railroad ties; we laid the pavers in 4 inches of sand.

The after picture is in need of a good pressure washing to remove construction dirt, but you can see the finished patio. The shape is two interlocking rectangles. We built the patio around the smaller apple tree; since no cement was used, there is plenty of water flow to water the roots.

We have since added a patio table and chairs, and have spent many a summer evening grilling or summer morning reading the paper while the dogs romp through our jungle!

This post was written for as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by True Value.

An Update on the Brick

An update before I leave town for two weeks... I have a convention and a training to attend for work. See you on the other side!

The Brick:
After doing much research, we found that these anchors are what we need. There are a few different brands; all require a special $250 driver that is attached to a hammer drill and cost around $5 each. They are inserted into the mortar joints through pre-drilled pilot holes (also drilled with a hammer drill). We need 350 of them.

Our mason decided he didn't feel comfortable doing the work, so we asked a mason who specializes in this sort of work to come and give a quote.

The damage? $2676.

This includes the $1500 or so in materials. It's JUST for inserting the ties; we will have the first mason do the patching of the holes when he finishes up the brick work.

It's also a lot of money.

My father-in-law is a stone cutter/worker by trade, and has offered to come and help us do it ourselves. We can save almost $1000, even after we buy the special driver... which we might be able to sell off after we are done.

Of course, this won't happen for another two weeks.... lots to think on!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shameless Plug...

for a dear family member's new website. She is an artist specializing in fine art and crafts using multicultural imagery, including paintings, drawings, mixed media, sculpture, Kachina ornaments, beadwork, and fetishes. She also works with book design, typesetting, and composition.

Pica² Graphics and Studio

Barbara's multicultural art works are primarily interpretations of zoomorphic or transcendental beings, often combined with hidden scientific or mathematical elements. She cultivates a fascination with the mechanics of visual patterns and how they interact, develop, and repeat themselves through all cultures throughout the ages. This fanciful unification of cultural imagery is not intended to be authentic or faithful to any specific culture or discipline. They are an amalgam of visual experiences.

Go take a look!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bondo and Rotting Things (or why I hate Bondo)

One of our window sills sustained water damage over the course of the last 100 years... I'm blaming the asbestos.


Instead of immediately replacing this HUGE solid piece of wood (that is probably holding up that entire wall!), we decided to see how far the rot went.

I started scraping the rotted wood out... it was so soft and crumbly that you could use a fingernail to remove it. I used a scraper instead. Fortunately, the rot stopped a good deal short of anywhere that could be considered structural...

Here is the sill after scraping all crumbly wood out, a light sanding to remove what paint survived the water, and the application of Miniwax Wood Hardener, to harden the remaining wood.


Now the fun part... BONDO.

When I read about using it, everyone said "It dries fast.. don't make much". I figured they were talking about a 5 minute set time... NOT a 5 SECOND set time. Ok... it's not quite that bad. But I would say you have about 30 seconds to get your mixed Bondo to exactly where you want it before it is permanently where you DON'T want it.



Despite my increasingly miniscule portions, I'll be spending a lot of time with the sander and chisel.

(An aside... you can see the likely original color of the windows and trim on the wood of the window. It's the dark brown. I hate to say, I'm not a fan.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trim Colors on a Red Brick House

It's time now to play "Pick the Trim Color", where I turn the floor open to your suggestions! (Pictures are below) Picking colors is not my forte.

Some background information:
The house next door is an identical cottage; it has original turned porch posts and fancy bracketry. Its trim is black and white. You can see a picture of a similar house (much fancier, with gingerbread and gables) here (substitute black for green).
Our house wouldn't have had the railings, but would have had the turned posts and brackets. We want to put turned posts back up instead of the hollow square columns we currently have; they are severely rotted at the base, and to me they make the house look too formal and Jeffersonian.

A historic choice of color would be dark brown. Our windows are dark brown on the exterior; I'm guessing this was the original color (before the green and the white). Other historic color choices would include tan and green. There is a gorgeous brick cottage a few blocks up with a dark taupe, forest green, and burgundy color pallete.

Complicating matters, our roof is in good condition, and a very light grey. Not the most attractive roof for using a historic pallate of colors! We are, however, NOT changing the roof.

Finally, I would like to be able to use one of the accent colors as the color of the addition on the back side of the house and possibly the garage, accenting both with the remaining accent colors and possibly a little "brick color".

Now, here are our contestants:

House #1 is sporting a lovely sage green trim on the fascia, soffits, windows, and posts. Dark grey and light grey accents on the turned posts and door, and a weird peachy tan on the sills and headers complete this version.

The grey on the fascia, soffits, posts, sills, and headers of House #2 is almost the same color as the roof. Paired with a muted blue door and post accents, it will stand out on any street.

A darker grey adorns House #3's main trim areas. The door, header and sills are all a sage green (you kind of lose them around the door!); the same color is paired with a muted burgundy on the posts.

Tan pays a visit to House #4. Paired with dark sage green and burgundy, it looks good without the roof. May we suggest a new hat for House #4?
House #5 has chosen a lovely taupe as it's main accent color. It has paired this with a muted blue door and porch accents, along with light grey headers, sills, and post accents. The grey is mirrored in the roof.

A plagieriser, House #6 doesn't see fit to have an original thought. Pairing the greys and taupes of House #5 with the sage greens of earlier houses, it is a copy in all ways.

A late contender, House #7 is clad in a rich brown with a burgundy door and green and window accents.


Now... your thoughts? Which are your favorites and why? What colors might you try out instead, and where?

In case you are wondering, I used Benjamin Moore's Personal Color Viewer to paint my pictures. Why? Because it was the only cheap program usable on a Mac. It works OK... the cursors are too big, and it is very difficult to do precise detail work. Also, the program is not very intuitive. I'm sure there are better programs out there!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

I'm not... but a few huge windmills on the Colorado/Wyoming border are, and the electricity they are producing is making its way to my city!

Thanks to a little post on switching to alternative energy, I discovered that my city DOES in fact allow you to purchase wind energy. I looked for it (and found nothing) when we moved in, since we had bought wind power in college. It pays to check back every once in a while!

Switching to wind (or whatever alternative energies are available in your area) is an easy and fairly cheap way to reduce your carbon footprint a little. It's going to cost us an extra $4.50 a month, and we feel it is money well spent.

If you want to find out more information about signing up for alternative energies, visit the Department of Energy's website on such things. It's a great site and loaded with information. It even lets you know WHICH alternative energy (wind, solar, hydro, nuclear) is available in your area so you can make even better choices!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I've Been Tagged...

and tagged and tagged!

Great minds think alike... Fred at One Project Closer, Christine at Front Porch Indiana, Jen of Dogs and Jen, D. at Re:HABitat, and Kim at Four Bed, Two Baths all tagged me for a "get to know you" meme... and Robj98168 nominated me for a Arte y Pico Award... thanks all for thinking of me! I do appreciate it. Even if it takes me a week or two to get to it!

All About Me...

1. What did you do 10 years ago?
Hmmm... 1998. Well, I was probably on a two week canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness this exact week. Two weeks without a shower (or even soap)... 7 lakes and two rivers... 11 other high school students. This was my first time out in the wilderness in this way... I would be a senior in high school in the fall.

2. Five items on your to-do list today:
  • Sleep In (Done)
  • Make Bread (Done)
  • Water the Apple Trees (Done)
  • Find the Proper Brick Ties (Done- online at least)
  • Pay Bills (Done)
Easy day, wasn't it! Summer band finished yesterday, so I took the day off.

3. Five Snacks I enjoy:
  • Freshly popped popcorn hot off the stove with lots of salt (NO butter... YUCK!)
  • Chocolate Graham Crackers (preferably teddy bear or bunny shaped)
  • Colorado Peaches... I can't WAIT!
  • Tortilla Chips and Guacamole and Salsa... homemade, of course!
  • Leftovers. LOVE leftovers!
4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Hard question! I've been spending the last year trying to reduce all needless wants... and I must say I have succeeded quite well. I can't even think of what I would want that could cost that much! Aside from a Craftsman bungalow with original woodwork and trim and such, I don't have many wants... I think travelling would be a big one. Maybe a couple really neat houses across the country, too? And, I'd set up a foundation that gave scholarships for children to take music classes and lessons and afford instruments, and help my alma mater FINALLY build a concert hall. I'd donate a lot to dog rescues to help them afford to rehabilitate confused pups like my Molly. Oh, and I'd build a big swimming pool with a diving board and fill it with money. Yeah.

5. Places I would live:I'm a big fan of Colorado right now... not too hot or cold, not too many disasters (ignoring the tornado from a month ago). But, I might like the northwest, too...

I'm passing on the tagging... I think everyone I've seen has done it! I'm just slow. Thanks again!

Two Small Projects

I found time yesterday to complete two small projects left unfinished. It's amazing how small projects pile up, with just a little bit of time needed for completion.

First, I painted the backsplash for the kitchen the same color as the walls.



We still want to put some sort of tile or metal backsplash up instead, but spending for things besides structural integrity has been put on hold. With 20 minutes and a bit of the leftover paint, I have a nice looking kitchen. Temporary, but well worth it.

I also hung the bathroom vanity light. I bought it in January on clearance, and just haven't put it up. It's been sitting on the floor outside the bathroom for 6 months.



Now, of course finishing the walls in the bathroom would go a LONG way to making it look nicer in there, too! Perhaps when it is too rainy to work outside...

It felt good to check off two more small projects... especially as we toil on the much larger project of the exterior. I need a little "instant gratification" every once in a while!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Look at the Brickwork

Our mason is back in town today, and coming over to talk about plans for continuing. I thought I would share pictures of the little bit of work that was completed before we discovered the moving walls. It really looks nice!

Underneath a Window

A Corner

This one isn't completely finished, as you can see... it was in progress when they stopped.

Overall, I am VERY pleased. The new mortar is almost indistiguishable from the old; the slight difference you can see is dirt staining the old mortar. The new bricks are blending in very well, too. I am glad we chose to hire this out; the level of craftsmanship is not something I feel I could attain myself!