Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's about time

One idea was to chronicle my home improvement projects up here. So, I'll start with the most recent: the half-bath on the main floor. When I moved in in September 2004 it looked like this:

It was outdated but functional so the kitchen took priority until early Spring 2006, when this bathroom's time had come. First the tear out, which happened over a weekend.

Sweet old wallpaper surprise. Everything came out. Tiles off the wall, the sink, light, mirror, cabinet, floor, toilet, wallpaper. Everything. Two weeks later I was able to spend another weekend on it and I rebuilt the cabinet. I had left the skeleton of the cabinet in place and just built on all new fascia, doors and drawers.

No turning back, now!

I built everything flush for a sleek, modern look. The design phase was obviously well under way, but I was still not sure exactly how the counter top, sink, faucet would come out. So I created a very simple line drawing on which to sketch some ideas.

Keeping with the modern theme I designed a curving countertop that extended all the way across the wall with a built-in shelf. By this time I had also decided to get a counter-top bowl sink and cool faucet. After a little searching I found both on eBay for super cheap, saving $250 off similar items from Lowe's and hundreds more compared to Restoration hardware and other designer shops. After a weekend with lots of help from the family (and an accidental plumbing error/emergency repair), it looked like this:

Thanks guys!

I used countertop laminate glued to cement board for the lower walls in a marble color and oak veneer hardwood floor. New toilet, too. Over the next couple weekends I cut the particle board for the counter top using a router for the curved parts. The counter top is laminate green marble. After installation of the counter top, I installed a 30-inch mirror and a 3-globe hanging light, and began searching for tile to use as border trim along the wall laminate. It had to work with both the cream marble and the green - NOT easy to find as it turns out. After lots of hours of online searching and probably 125 miles of driving I found it! That was the final element and I'm very happy with the result:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

They're Heeeeere...

I've been reading a novel by pulpy novelist, Dean Koontz the last couple nights. It's called The Taking and, well, it ain't bad. I have to admit that I am pretty much a sucker for anything weird or sci/fi so I get sucked in pretty easy. If it is also scary, then I tend to become absorbed.
So right from the first night reading this book, I'm starting to get freaked out. It's about this gushing rain that won't stop and brings evil creatures that want to eat your face off, turn mirrors into portals, you know real end-of-the-world type stuff. I finally get to an unscary part and put it down. Whew! I'm like scared to turn out the light scared from this book. Looking into the hallway, glancing out the window, closing closet doors. worried that the evil rain and baddies are coming for me. Not really scared, but very cognizant of the story even while not reading it. Really enjoying it.

Last night I'm storming through this page turner, the plot thickens, the evil rain is still falling, creatures are coming, eating faces, infesting minds, corrupting youth, etc. I finally give in and put the book down sometime after 12:00. Whew!

I am awoken, suddenly this morning at about 4:00 am by - no shit - an intruder leaping through my window onto my bed! The monster is small and less agile than he thought, because he falls off the bed and gets stuck between the bed and the wall. The window is thrown wide open and the wind blows violently through, flapping the curtain. Elsewhere in the house I here other intruders skittering past blinds, knocking objects off tables, invading!

A thunderstorm had rolled in and blown my window fan in, off the window sill. All the open windows in the house began breathing with the storm, throwing anything that weighed less than the October issue of Details around the room. (Seriously that thing is like 3 pounds)
Needless to say, with all the ideas rambling in my head, I was freaked out. Not the best way to start the longest day of my life, which by the way, is Minneapolis to Orange County for the afternoon, then to Spokane via Seattle. I'm on the Seattle layover now..... At least I get warm cookies in Spokane.

OK. I'm going to finish this book now. I doubt I'll sleep on the next flight.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shawn the Thatcher

A little yard clean up goes a long way. I rented a power rake yesterday to dethatch the lawn. The buildup of clippings, mulched leaves and junk was 1/2 to 1 inch thick.

First I clipped the lawn very short, and bagged the grass. Then I set the power rake to the second-deepest setting and it dug into the thatch very well and loosened it up, pulling up dirt in some spots. But those were spots where the lawn was pretty much just thatch anyway.

Next came the clean-up. I spent the rest of the afternoon raking the junk into rows and picking it up by hand into a wheelbarrow. The mulch pile in back grew quite a bit. I suppose I should have been bagging the grass every time I mowed, but I've only mowed about 4-5 times this summer, as dry as it's been. Anyway, it's a big job, sore muscles, blisters, etc.

And at this point the lawn looks like crap. I planted some seed and fertilizer and will water for a week or so, but honestly, the front yard could maybe use an old Trans Am on cinder blocks to improve the looks a bit.

I'll let you know if the lawn bounces back next year...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Next time medium rare, please

I went all the way to Cleveland and all I got was this lousy sunburn. Seriously, if you are chronically Scandinavian, limit your time in direct sunlight as if you were a vampire. I went for the 1-hour burn-to-tan plan. It didn't work. It's been 4 days and I'm still glowing.