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\"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” -- John Muir

A little wistful

August 31, 2010

Chers Amis,

Pippin and I are back to school.  Actually we are just starting our third week of 4th grade. He likes to say 5th because virtually all his books say 5, but I am hanging on to every day so it is 4th period!  Why so insistent on the “4”? Because I am feeling a bit wistful right now.  I watched a friend’s children for her yesterday and it made me miss having my girls little and around me.  My friend’s middle daughter was eight and was fascinated with all the nature in our yard.  She longed to spend the afternoon wandering our petit corner of woods searching for toads, lizards, and any other living creatures I could help her find.  It made me misty.  Caddie is like that, she still is, but she is no longer eight and she is no longer holding my hand dragging me through the yard everyday to show me her latest fungal find.   Don’t get me wrong, she STILL does pull me by the hand and I follow willingly. But right now at 11:27 am on this Tuesday morning, she is in an excellent class at an excellent school – maybe even 8th grade science – but not here.  And I am all teary because…well, because the male green darner dragonfly (Anax junius) that glittered so brightly yesterday would have been so much better with Caddie’s hand in mine and her hand is getting bigger – and farther away.  Sorry.  Sometimes Tuesdays are just hard.



Kitchen is almost there!

August 27, 2010

Chers  Amis,

I have been terribly amiss in keeping you up to date on our kitchen/house project this summer.  Mea culpa. I blame the kitchen itself, and  summertime as well. There has just been too much going on for me to find the time to write properly! Pippin and I started back to school two weeks ago so the tidal surge continues.

The kitchen is virtually finished except for a few small changes the electrician needs to take car of in order to meet code and pass final inspection.  The rest that remains undone is all DIY work hs and I haven’t quite gotten to such asinstalling the last bit of new baseboard (it must be cut and coped), installing a new door jamb/frame to the living room, installing trim around the door to the living room and to the basement, and finish-up touch-up painting. Overall, the project is a HUGE success.

Until I take some final pictures I will share the story of our counter tops. We did FINALLY find granite that we both liked. The winner – Yellow River.  Ok, it was my big splurge, but I love the flow of golds, tans, grays and caramel brown. Dh’s big splurge was under cabinet lighting (LOVE IT!) and it didn’t make much sense to light up blah granite. The installer came out to the house once our cabinets were installed and took measurements with a CAD program. This digital template was overlaid with photos of our slab of stone so I could approve where the veining ran, direction, what to avoid etc. on the computer screen before the stone was cut.

It was a very interesting process.  A few words to the wise though.  Take a picture of the slab of stone you have bought. Write down the SKU number and make sure you see the actual slab again before the templating process is started. We ended up with a slightly different slab than the one I hand chose.  It did not make a real difference as they were from the same lot.  I did not bring the photo of the slab with me to the templating and they had already photographed the stone they were using. I was in a rush to leave town for vacation that afternoon and did not do a double-double check.  In the end I don’t know that I could see any difference, but this is not always the case.  The picture above is the actual template CAD design overlaid with the stone they used.  It is SO much prettier in person.  It looks just like a river bottom with flowing gray streaks and large inclusions of mother of pearl.  The under cabinet lights make it glow at night!  Here you can catch a glimpse of the the lovely (dd and stone 🙂 and the laid (trim in dire need of replacing).  Dh borr0wed a miter saw and nail gun from a friend so it SHOULD be finished by lundi.  On verra!


See, Mom, floor, but no ceiling!

June 28, 2010

Chers Amis,

Summer is nearly half over and the kitchen is almost half finished  – if you blur  your eyes a little.  Ok, a lot.  Maybe it is closer to 1/3 finished.I don’t even want to THINK about the school year.  I am in total denial.  I am worse than the kids.  I DO NOT WANT TO GO THERE!!!! Ok, back to the house. It is taking a bit longer than I would like, in part because we decided to go ahead and permit everything. Technically, we probably could have done it without permits, but my ‘by the books’ nature doesn’t jibe well with skirting the law for expediency, plus it will guarantee that it is done to code – I wouldn’t recognize the difference if it bit me -and if we ever do have to sell the house there will be no questions as to shoddy workmanship.  But… inspections take time and fixing little oversights take more time.  Add to that the cabin et installer’s vacation after the 4th (when the cabinets are scheduled to arrive) and the kitchen will not be done by my hoped date of July 1.

Why that date?  Because my wonderful, fantastic, superbulosa (made up, I know),  best of the best, maid of honor, friend I haven’t seen in 10 years (blast that stupid Atlantic Ocean!!!) is COMING this Friday. JOY to the 100th power. My usually sedate (if silly) self is elated.  Kitchen-smitchen –   Who CARE???? That said, I am glad we will have a sink and fridge and even our ancient but still functioning stove for most of the time. Ceilings optional.  🙂

Last week the flooring guys ripped out our old dining room carpet and kitchen linoleum and installed new red oak hardwood.  DH decided on 4-inch planks because he likes the wide look.  Any wider would have been way beyond our already busted budget. We also opted for grade 2 wood for a more rustic country feel. Living in the woods with three kids and a dog will be hard enough on the floor, plus the streaking and tiny knots add depth and character.  We still haven’t picked a color for the stain, but that will come after we know what the countertops will look like.   I am in love with my new floor and very anxious to start painting that horrid s almon!

DH and I are going to put up simple wainscoting in the dining room and he really wants to trim out the header above tAna Williamson Architect-Princeton Road traditional kitchenhe new pass way from the kitchen to the dining room with hardwood to look like the exposed beam below.  What do you think?  Our cabinets will be a cream with a light glaze not green 🙂 Lighting, paint, and granite TBD.  Oh, yeah, and hardware.  Eventually.  For now I am SO excited about Friday kitchens seem very insignificant – as long as I can still make lunch.


traditional kitchen design by

SKIL Tool Giveaway at One Project Closer

June 17, 2010

Chers Amis,

Just popping it to let you know about a wonderful giveaway week going on over at One Project Closer. Click over tonight before 7:59 PM EDT and comment on his post on the Thursday SKIL Tool Giveaway to be registered to win this 7-1/4″ Skilsaw® – Model #5680-01.

If you are a DIY’er and you don’t already follow One Project Closer subscribe now.  It is a wealth of information, reviews, recommendations, and real life renovation experiences. They recently  had a load bearing wall removed just like we did and are putting in hardwood floors too! But they are doing the floors themselves. They have a super tutorial about leveling out plywood subflooring. Go, guys!


Demo: walls gone!

June 14, 2010

Chers Amis,

See this kitche n? It is no more!  DH and I started the demo last week by pulling out the cabinets and the contractor continued the trend by taking out the wall behind them. For perspective, the stove has not moved 🙂

Taking down the upper cabinets was a bear as they were one solid unit constructed on site and the builder used square head screws (about 30) that he counter sunk. ARgh! We started right after dinner and didn’t finish until almost 10:30.  Since the girl’s room is directly above the kitchen no one was sleeping and everyone had to come down when they heard the final enormous “CRASH!”.

One tool that I LOVED and very much appreciated during this demo was the nifty hydraulic lift cart dh bought last week to help us with the heavy lifting. It is like having a cart size jack that allows you to lift and lower heavy objects like new stoves from the truck bed or solid wood cabinets. Oh, I wish we would have had it when we were struggling to lift the rented tamper back into the truck. It would have been SO much easier than the plywood inclined plane!  We figure that we aren’t getting any younger so it makes sense to have a cart designed to help lift.  It would have been impossible for the two of us to carry those cabinets.  Instead dh rolled them down the hill and into the basement where they are awaiting rehabilitation. 🙂

Day two, the contractor returned and opened  the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room. This was a load bearing wall so he had to build a temporary wall to support the upstairs while he removed the old wall and installed a new header beam. Now the space is so much more open and inviting.  Don’t worry, we have great plans to PAINT that horrible salmon, remove window dressings, add architectural trim, hardwood, etc.  Right now I am very much enjoying the new sense of space. Yesterday dh  and his brother removed all the upper cabinets on the sink side.  The next step will be for the electrician to work his magic and put in all the new recessed lighting.  I hope that the drywall, lighting, plumbing, and new ceiling will be in by the end of this week or next.  Then I have to get super busy and paint everything! Of course I don’t have a clue on color  as we haven’t found our counter tops yet, but every day is a new step and an exciting one.


Let the kitchen remodel begin!

June 7, 2010

Chers Amis,

School is out and our kitchen remodel has switched into high gear. (Every time I write remodel I want to write remoodle, weird!) Dh and I finally decided to use a contractor for our kitchen design and installation. Boy, was that a crazy night when we signed the contract and wrote that not so little check for cabinets – hand still shaking.  We chose to use a contractor to oversee the bulk of the work since it involved opening the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room several feet through a load bearing wall and removing the coat closet and the wall to the pantry. We do have to keep the “problem” area of th e chase that holds all the venting from our heater, but we are moving our refrigerator to the back wall of the pantry and adding floor to ceiling cabinets that will be flush with the chase wall.  We thought about cladding the chase with faux cabinet doors and paneling, but that was beyond our current budget so we will either leave it painted with or put bead board paneling up partway  We shall see.

They are also going to remove my ugly textured ceiling and add recessed lighting.  Don’t think we aren’t going to get our hands dirty. Can you say demo, trim, wainscotting, painting, and back splash?  DH’s  and My job is to demo the cabinets and strip the wall paper. I have been removing EVERYTHING from my current cabinets as they will be coming Wednesday to tear out the walls. Hooray!  I will try to scan the drawings of what the kitchen will look like and keep you posted on the transformation.  I have some fabulous stories of Craigslist deals we happened upon, but I need to get busy!


Stone walkway – petit a petit…

June 1, 2010

Chers Amis,

Work on the front walkway continues despite torrential rains.  It is finally taking shape.  Weekend before last we manged to add and tamp the crush and run and sand base. This weekend, in between storms, we arranged the stone for the walk itself.  Yesterday we lifted, straightened, and leveled all the border stones(rubbles) on the left hand side.  We will have to do the same for the right side and then level the walk stones themselves, one by one.  This would be SO much easier if the weather would cooperate! It will look so nice once it is done and we have a chance to clean up and landscape.  Un de ces jours…

Dh did also finish excavating and installing the pipe from the rain gutter.  You can just see the tip of the black pipe coming off the white downspout and disappearing beneath the walk.  If you look at the big white bag of sand at the bottom left of the picture you can see a streak of gray drainage rock.  It covers the pipe and leads to a deep trench which will eventually be filled with river rock and serve both as edging for the front shade garden bed and a ‘dry river bed’ that will channel the run off down the hill and away from the walk and house.

He also installed a pipe right under the stone walk where it meets the mortared landing.  You can see the gray gravel covering the pipe.  It is a little different as it was a PVC pipe (@8-10ft) with holes on the top.  We wrapped it in landscaping fabric to discourage dirt from entering the pipe and set it in a gravel lined trench.  Now when the it rains and the water inevitably pools at the bottom, the water soaks through the sand base, into the pipe and flows out into the yard. I wish I had taken a picture yesterday, the amount of water pouring down was astounding.  The drainage pipes worked beautifully, but we still have far too much water running down the gravel drive onto the concrete. In turn it is flowing through my front flower bed like a creek!  When we finish the front walk and the kitchen we will have to see about installing a pipe or gutter on the drive.

They are supposed to start doing the construction on the kitchen a week from tomorrow so we have SO much to do.  St. Joseph, I’m counting on you!