28 December 2008


What happened to my weekend? I got distracted by a shiny new object.

Meet the new breadmaker, my Christmas present from Lewis.Mom marked all the recipes she wants me to try from the book that came with the breadmaker. Then she and I went to the grocery store Saturday afternoon and bought nearly every kind of flour known: whole wheat flour, bread flour, rye flour, tapioca flour, almond flour, brown rice flour, garfava flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour...Plus a couple of box mixes, just to get started. Saturday night I made my first loaf of bread from the honey wheat berry box mix. I followed the directions carefully, then once all the ingredients were in, I realized I had forgotten the mixing paddle. Oops. The directions say that the yeast must not touch the water, but I had to scoop the whole business out to put the mixing paddle in, and it still came out just fine.Not too bad, but I think I would like a lighter crust. Next time.

26 December 2008

How We Decked Our Halls

Our entry, the first thing you see when you come in the door...

Our blue tree in the dining room; please note the nice festivus pole (aka, heat to the second floor) strategically located next to the tree.

And finally, our golden retriever, our little angel...

(Don't worry, the angel costume was only on long enough to snap a couple of pictures. We try not to torture the poor creature too much, despite what he may tell you.)

24 December 2008

All Wrapped Up

Here is the sum total of eight months of stitching: Twelve sets of pillowcases. There would have been fourteen, but I'd already given two sets out a few months back. One of our extended relatives had a house fire back in October, an almost total loss. So while they were in rented housing, with someone else's furniture, and getting hand-me-downs from everyone, including me, I thought it would be nice for them to have something new, made just for them. I had hoped to get two more sets done for them for Christmas, but I just couldn't stitch fast enough. Oh well.

18 December 2008

Neglected Blog

Poor lonely blog. The holidays are rough, aren't they? You've been neglected. And it's likely to continue into the new year. But don't worry. Things should pick back up in January.

23 November 2008

Friendly Field of Flowers

This is Tall Flowers from Bucilla.
These were a lot of fun to stitch, the stems went very quickly, but each flower took lots of delicate little stitches.

As usual, I didn't follow the directions. I used stem stitch, back stitch, and French knots only. It called for other stitches, including satin stitch, but I didn't want to see filled in spots, so I treated the whole thing like an outline. I also used stronger, bolder colors than usual, and I'm very pleased with how this set turned out.
The thread I used:
DMC green #580 for the stems (it's a nice bright olive-y green)
DMC yellow #742 for flowers and centers
DMC pink #3350 for flowers
DMC purple #3834 for the single butterfly At first I wasn't sure about putting a fourth color in there, then I wasn't going to do the butterfly at all, then I did him with a pink body and purple wings. When I got to the second pillowcase, I decided the whole butterfly should be purple. More whimsical. The first one bugged me so much, I just had to tear out the stitches and do both butterflies in all purple. Probably an hour's work. For a few moments, I felt a bit like Greg from Petch House.

22 November 2008

Upstairs Bathroom Details: Things Still Undone

Someday I'll find enough matching tiles to finish this spot above the door. They ended the shower area, and we thought it would be fine. Until we saw how awkward it looks now that the door trim is back in place. That spot is only three tiles high, and less than 30 inches wide. Plus, when you are in the room, it is mostly behind the support beam. But I know it is there. And it bugs me. This extra wide door jamb is made of red oak, which when stained is one of the closest matches in grain to the original chestnut. I'm too much of a wimp to try matching it myself, so this is a project for Jack. Someday.

20 November 2008

Upstairs Bathroom Details: Finishing Touches

I just loved the shape of all the accessories that went with the Standard Collection from American Standard.

The faucet, with its lever-style handles, and porcelain stopper stamped "Standard" in old-fashioned script. The light fixtures, with adjustable angles, and shades that mimic the bell-shape on the faucet.
Co-ordinating t.p. holder.
Even the toilet's flush lever!
And the important grab bars (from Moen). A safety feature that is also a great place to hang a washcloth.

19 November 2008

Upstairs Bathroom Details: The Saga of the Medicine Cabinet

The medicine cabinet is just about the only original fixture left in this bathroom. And even some of these pieces are replacements. Like the large flat piece that makes up the header. At some point, some P.O. decided that wide piece of wood was the optimal spot for a light fixture. Yeah. One of those eighties theatre dressing room numbers. So that piece of chestnut had to be completely replaced, as well as the piece that makes up the apron. That one suffered when the backsplash and new counter were installed. Yeah, I know the knobs don't line up with one another, and it used to bug me, but there is no evidence of another hole on either door, so I guess they were always like that.
The back is made up of bead board- the real stuff.
Small holes were drilled at (irregular) intervals for shelf supports. We've discovered the holes are an in-between size, too!

Seriously, though. I love this medicine cabinet. Now that it is all nicely refinished, it looks so nice in the room, all warm wood. Without it, I don't think the bathroom would look as well-adjusted to the period of the house.

18 November 2008

Upstiars Bathroom Details: Shower Rod Woes

So, I haven't come up with a really good solution for the shower rod. You see, a normal L-shaped rod won't work to cover the end of the shower because of the sloped ceiling. Which of course is some odd angle like 52 degrees, or something. We did buy a regular L rod, as you can see, and my dad adjusted it for a temporary fix. More than two years ago.
See the bracket? It is at a fixed angle, not at all flexible.
Does anybody have any suggestions?

17 November 2008

Summer Fresh Dasies

These pillowcases are done in the Daisies on Gingham pattern from Dimensions.
As usual, I didn't quite follow the instruction when it came to color. Close, though. You see, I've decided that I rather like working with the cotton perle #8, which is a bit different from the regular floss. Plus I have tons of it from my mom's stash. So when I pulled this set from the package, I realized I had the same blue, and nearly the same yellow and orange in the #8 thread, I decided I may as well use it. The only thing I didn't have was the right green. I think the green I used is a bit strong, but that's what I had. I have since discovered that I can buy new balls of DMC cotton perle #8 from Joanne's online. Oh well, next time.

This was a great set to learn from because there were so many different stitches used:
back stitch
chain stitch
stem stitch
cross stitch
french knots
Many of these stitches I hadn't had much practice with before this. I just love the textural feel of the flower's centers.
DMC green #702
DMC blue #519
DMC yellow #444
DMC orange #741

13 November 2008

Upstairs Bathroom Details: the Tile Tale

Of course, we went with the subway tile, a classic, for the walls, and hex tiles on the floor. Tell me, can you get anymore bungalow than that?

The subway tiles cover the two shower walls and the slanted ceiling. You can see the wood strip we had to install to cover the gap where the plaster and the tile could not meet.The tub surround was supposed to be capped with marble, but instead, it is some sort of plastic composite. I'm not thrilled with it, but well, more about that later. Also, you can see in this photo how the tiles now completely cover the front, but they didn't always. I wish I could find a picture, I'm sure I have one somewhere. When Tile Guy finished, the tiles from the sides were exposed on the end. I stared at it every time I went to the bathroom. It drove me crazy. Eventually that problem was solved, though. I love the additional shelf space in the shower. There is nothing I hate more about those new single piece molded shower units than the lack of shelf space. Except maybe that there is nowhere to hang your washcloth, either. Can you tell that there is a seam on the shelf just to the right of the soap? Tile Guy again.
Tile Guy used twine as spacers between the wall tiles, so the grout lines are pretty slim. That is one good thing. The floor tiles came in sheets, so they were already pre-spaced. They did manage to get the marble threshold I wanted, although I did think it would be bigger.

Okay, now let me tell you about Tile Guy.

We hired the same company to install the bathroom tile that put in the cork floor in the downstairs bathroom and the carpet in the back bedroom, because the had done such a fine job in those other two rooms. The sales staff were great. They were friendly, not a hard sell, and they knew their products. However. Their Tile Guy had an attitude from the moment he arrived here. It was supposed to take them a week to ten days to tile the bathroom. Obviously, I could not take off work every day for a week plus, so I made arrangements for someone to be there every day. My friend Tallen was home from college at the time, so he was volunteered to be my liaison. Poor guy.

Anyway, Tile Guy's 'tude seemed to stem from the fact that I wasn't there to greet him. Over the course of the week he dealt with Tallen, my dad, my mom, and Bill. If anything came up, they could always call me for a decision. This wasn't good enough.

The wall tile was offered to me at a discount by the owner of the company, because they had it sitting in the warehouse. It was leftover from a previous job, and I paid for the remaining boxes. It should have been enough to do the job with a few tiles left over. When we got the boxes open we did discover that many of the tiles were chipped on the edges, I guess they had not been handled with much care, but there were still plenty of tiles completely intact. When the job was finished, there was still one whole box and part of a second box of tiles. Months later, when we eventually got the owner's son back to fix the problem areas, we discovered that I only had the partial box left, and no hex tiles at all. When questioned, Tile Guy claimed that there weren't any floor tiles left over. Come on, seriously. Not possible. I can believe that there might not have been whole sheets, but I was just looking for a handful of individual tiles for repairs down the road. In fact, there was one hex tile that was damaged right from the beginning. The owner's son took the matching tile off their sample board to use as a replacement. Luckily for them it is indistinguishable. I guess I'm still pretty irritated about the whole ordeal.

As for the shelf that was supposed to be marble, well, it was installed on one of those days I was not there, and Tile Guy never told Tallen or my dad that there was a change, and would that be okay. Because if he had asked, I would have said no, it must be marble. I did not want anything synthetic, but by the time I got home that night, the grout had already been set. Too late.

Tearing it out would have made a huge mess, and it may have damaged surrounding tiles, which may not have been able to be replaced. To add insult to injury, this plastic composite stuff only comes in certain lenghts, i.e. not quite long enough to go the entire length of the tub. So there isn't just the corner seam, where it makes the L, but there is also a seam near the front. I hate it, but there's nothing that can be done now. Plus, when Tile Guy was done, the end was still so sharp that I even cut myself on more than one occassion. The owner's son rounded out the edges to make it as smooth as possible.

You know, I paid 50% down at the beginning, and when the job was complete, they sent me a bill for the other 50%. Okay, but I wasn't satisfied with the quality. There were several problems that needed to be fixed. I called, spoke to the owner, who was nice, but didn't get back to me to set up a time to do the repairs. I called two more times over the next three months, then just gave up. I had no intention of paying them until these things were resolved, so I figured I wait them out. Don't you know, a week before the end of the year, I get a call. Did I know I still owed them money, they ask? Why yes, I'm aware. Did you know you're not done with the job, I ask? Oh, well, we'll send someone out right away. This was easily 8 months after Tile Guy left.

So, the owner's son came out, and he was very nice, understanding, apologetic, and he made the repairs he could with what materials Tile Guy left for me. I paid them, and we parted ways. I didn't need any more flooring or tiling done on the house, but if I had, I would have to think twice about hiring them again. On the whole, their other employees did a fine job on the cork floor and the carpet, the sales staff was lovely, and eventually, the owner's son did come out and make all the repairs possible, I think the only problem was Tile Guy and his 'tude.

11 November 2008

Upstairs Bathroom Details: Structural Support

You may have noticed that the new bathroom looks a lot bigger. That's because it is.

We bumped the wall where the door is out into the hallway. This gave us another 16" or so in the bathroom, and we didn't really loose anything but dead space in the hall. We considered it carefully, too. We didn't want to find that we'd made it impossible to get furniture in. This didn't impact that at all, mostly because the chimney stack was already there. That's another plus. The bathroom doesn't have heating, so by moving the door wall, we've now got two sides of the chimney in the bathroom. And when the hot water is running, like when you're in the shower, the chimney gets hot enough to warm your towel! That nice structural beam had to stay, but I don't think it looks out of place. Or, maybe I'm just telling myself that so I feel better.

Another place we gained space was the ceiling. Bill started to level the old ceiling when we had the bathroom gutted, and he realized that it was going to be a lot of tedious work. He asked me if it would be okay to take the framework down and start from scratch. I'll bet Bill got nervous when he saw the gleam in my eye. I had an idea. Since we had to tear it down anyway, could we raise the ceiling? Pretty please? At only 7', it always felt claustrophobic, and Lewis' hair grazed the light fixture. So Bill agreed that would be best all around, and I couldn't be happier.

One last place we expanded was the knee wall. As it turns out, there was over a foot of dead space between the bathroom and the back bedroom's cubby. Just dead space, not being used for anything. Of course, you can't actually stand there, because of the slope of the roof, but I got my longed-for shampoo shelf and plenty of extra elbow room in the shower. It really makes all the difference. The whole bathroom feels so spacious, even considering its size.

10 November 2008

House Tour: Upstairs Bathroom After

I think I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
Compare to the before photos posted yesterday. Details to follow.

09 November 2008

House Tour: Upstairs Bathroom Before

I can remember the first time mom and I walked through this house. The owners were showing it themselves, because it was up for auction. I stepped into this bathroom, turned and said to mom, "we're going to have to factor a bathroom remodel right into the budget for this house." She agreed. We both knew it couldn't stay like that for long.

Once the paperwork was finalized and the P.O.s moved out (five weeks of me renting to them), I finally got the house all to myself. Little did I know then... But I always knew this bathroom had to go. I've even thought it could have made a good entry for American Standard's Ugliest Bathroom Contest. But they don't seem to do that anymore.

These photos were taken in September 2003. Once upon a time, there was a claw foot tub in here, but it was long gone by the time I arrived. I'd guess 1970s?
The ceiling was low, the lighting was ugly, the floor was squishy, the tub was shorter than normal at 4-1/2', its faucet leaky, any natural daylight was almost completely blocked by the weird shower wall addition, daddy couldn't even get to the plumbing access panel...

...that's about 10" there, people.
If your eyes can get past the nasty, teal with gold veins ...laminate?... wall panels, you can see they butchered the poor header on the medicine cabinet with that hideous 80s lighting.
The toilet also leaked. Alot. We woke up one morning to water dripping from the ceiling right onto the kitchen counter! I would have been a whole lot more disgusted if we had actually been using the kitchen at the time. Anyway, the downstairs bathroom wasn't yet completed, so my dad's solution was to turn the water off to the toilet (luckily it was the ingoing water that was leaking, not the, erm, outgoing). This did not render the bathroom unusable, however, because all we had to do was collect water dripping from the tub faucet into a bucket, and voila! Instant use of wasted water. The tub faucet was leaking about a gallon of water every two hours. Daddy intended to fix it, but he said the whole thing had to be replaced, he couldn't reach the plumbing, and we were going to gut this room in less than a year, so...

Check out the gold vein on that counter surface. Not matching, but coordinating.Just wait till you see all we did to this room. You may not recognise it. Once we realized how bad the water damage was, this room had to be torn down to the studs. And then some of those even had to be sistered. We bumped two walls out, raised the ceiling, leveled the floor, well, you'll see...