Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Laundry Center

Half-way through June, Amanda told me that the clothes washing machine was not operating as it should. After running a normal load of laundry, an abnormal puddle would be all over the floor. Hoping for a quick and easy repair, I opened the machine and watched for the source of the leak. Unfortunately, the seal at the very core of the drum dribbled during agitation and streamed during the spin cycle. If I were to spend the time, energy and money to repair the seals and bearings of the 10+ year old machine, in the end it would only be a temporary fix. After rigging-up a band-aid to catch the discharge, it looked like we were in the market for a new washing machine.

We have previously discussed redesigning the basement laundry station; however, that plan was supposed to be further down our project list. The current washer and dryer were arranged such that it was difficult not to drop a wet sock on the dirty cellar floor. The two machines were practically 15 foot apart, due to available plumbing and ventilation connections. In order to make the laundry center more accommodating, we intended to arrange the units side-by-side near the current dryer location.

A dedicated 15A breaker was already run to a receptacle for the dryer, so no further electrical work was required. However, some plumbing would be necessary in order to extend the hot and cold lines, as well as route the expelled water to the corner sump pump. Before this though, we needed to build-up a level concrete pad where the new machine would sit.

Jim pretending to be hard at work.

The original dryer was sitting on a raised pad. We decided to extend this peninsula into the corner, and add a few feet on the opposite side as well. The final pad is a 12 foot step-up into the corner, and is as level as I can manage.

New cement pad pretending to have always been there.

We wanted to create a clean work space for the new laundry center, and adhesive-backed vinyl tiles looked like a perfect flooring solution. After studying our options, and building a mosaic collage on the floor at the hardware store, we picked out two complimentary tile patterns for a checkerboard pattern. Both tile patterns look like flagstone, and provide a clean yet natural look. As a finishing step, vinyl baseboards and stair nosing will be applied to the borders and the edges of the raised pad. Surprisingly, laying-out 12x12in stickers on the ground takes a good bit of time and energy! 

New floor tiles pretending not to be completely awesome.

I needed a few new tools and some new skills in order to tackle the plumbing aspects of this project. After some research and some practice, I was able to piece together the new hot and cold lines. The appropriate valves were soldered in place and the whole assembly was connect to the existing plumbing. The exit plumbing was more easily accomplished with standard drain parts and PVC pipe. With no evidence of leaking joints, the plumbing system was ready for connection to a new wash basin and washing machine. This straightforward plumbing job was a good introduction and an engaging puzzle; I think I would be comfortable doing this again.

Old pipes pretending not to notice the new pipes.

We actually ordered a new washer and dryer, in order to replace the aged and mostly functional units. An honest-to-goodness shop, Daly's Appliance, delivered our sparkling new Speed Queen washing and drying machines. They connected the units and made sure that they were working properly before hauling-away the old faulty ones. Let me say that these guys were great! Over the following weekend, I fussed with the dryer ventilation. After adding a second overhead fluorescent lamp, our new laundry center was fully functional and ready for work!

Speed Queen washer and dryer pretending not to be kings of laundry.

While this project was not on our priority list, it presented a good challenge and I learned a few new tricks along the way. The result is a proper work station that should serve us well in the future.

The finished product doesn't have to pretend whatsoever. It is great!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You Can Help Avonlea Be The Next Gerber Baby!

We have had a lot of people come up to us (even total strangers) and tell us that Avonlea looks like a Gerber baby.  So when I found out that Gerber was having a contest on their Facebook page for the next Gerber baby, I decided to give it a whirl.

This is her official entry photo

All you need to do is go to Gerber's Facebook page or This Site , "Like" Gerber on Facebook, Vote.
You can either look her up by her first name and find the above pic
By her entry #: 446235

Thank you to anyone and everyone who votes for our little sweetheart.  :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My newel post - post

As I recall, July last year was a busy month! One of the big decisions at that time was to remove a wall surrounding the stairs in the hallway and build a hand rail. Lately I have been really appreciating our decision, as the hallway is a very comfortable and functional space.

We spent a long time figuring-out the railing in our hallway landing. After studying stair parts catalogs from local lumbar yards, we found that most parts were available off-the-shelf with exception of the newel posts. Newels are the large columns at the junctions and terminations of a railing, and is often one of the focal points. Box newels were quite common in the era or our home, and luckily we like the look of this design. However, as we need two and one-half newel posts for our hand rail, the cost of these components alone would have broken our budget. So, I decided to design and build our own newel posts.

Most of the surface pieces were originally drawer fronts from a local Building 9 supply store. My dad and I spend a weekend afternoon with his radial arm saw, cutting 45 degree angles on a tall stack of parts.

In order to make a reliable and sturdy hand rail, the surface parts were secured to a solid poplar core. A local lumber yard planed the cores to my specifications and made a few door jamb parts. The surface parts are secured by liquid nails and finishing nails, as well as wood glue near the seams. The raw core was visible on the lower half of the post during the assembly stages, and actually was exposed until the final finishing stage when skirt pieces were attached.

Caps for the newels were created by mounting miniature crown molding on top a 1 inch thick oak plank. By wrapping the molding around a center post, a flat surface was established at the top where I can set toys or a water bottle. The square plank was cut large enough to provide a lip around the molding where I can set a pen or my glasses. Even though it looks like a small part, I was nervous during assembly, due to the high visibility and regular handling.

During a big push towards the end of the year, we stained and varnished all the handrail parts as well as door jambs and casing for the second story broom closet. My youngest brother Ed, my mom and even my father-in-law each helped with the process; however, I wanted to be responsible for the the posts, caps and skirts. I was rather anxious during the finishing stages, since the design and assembly required so much time and energy. (I figured that if the newels were ruined at this point, then I had better be the the one to blame.) Happily, all the parts looked great after a few layers of stain and varnish!

Amanda has a great article describing the assembly process, but here is a final photo of the finished product, as intalled in our hallway upstairs. What a big project, and what a big difference in the quality of our home!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Closet storage project - complete!

Whoa, looks like it's been a little while since our last post. Quite honestly though, I've been making very slow progress on a project for our two newly renovated bedrooms. It has been a long time since we drafted the plans and cut the materials in February. Recently though, the closet storage units were assembled and installed. Now each new bedroom closet has a storage solution with three drawers, two adjustable shelves and clothes rods.

Custom closet storage solution (sans clothes rods) in the Nursery.

One or two of the drawers seem to be a little tight in the warm summer weather. A co-worker suggested applying bee's wax to the edges, and I was surprised that the hardware store had a disc of it in stock. I'm thankful that Don suggested this solution, as it saved me some additional sanding and repainting.

Blam! Non-sticking drawers.

We have some other summer-time projects in the queue, so more regular updates should be forthcoming. My apologies for my truant behavior lately; I could say that there hasn't been all together very much to report, but it would be an excuse rather than a reason for my laziness. Anyways, one project down (N = N + 1) projects to go.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Update but not Really

I'm just updating the blog to let you know that there is nothing really to report.  Jim has been making slow but steady progress on the innards for the 2 bedroom closets.  Nothing really picture worthy though.  I'm eager to take the "After" pictures of the nursery for the "Before and After" Page, but I'm waiting until the closets are finished.
Jim has also found me a new video editing program, so you might see some videos on this blog soon. Then we could really give you a tour of our home.  LOL!
I've decided that Fridays are my blog update days, so I am going to try to work on one or both of the blogs every Friday and see how that works.  I've learned that I need to actually schedule myself to get anything done around here.  I've tried it for 2 weeks now and my productivity has improved immensely.  I'm so pumped!
The weekend is almost upon us, so hopefully that means I'll have something to report to you guys next Friday that is actually blog worthy.  Now I need to hop on over to Bloggle Baby  to work on updating that blog.  I have tons of updates for that one.  Hmmm...wonder why.  LOL!

Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Curtains for Us!

My MIL has graciously given me her old sewing machine so that I can learn to sew.  So far, I've made a few burp cloths, a pillow, and some liners for the cloth diapers.  My most recent accomplishment though is curtains.  Yea!  My MIL helped me to make curtains for my Craft Room and the Nursery.

Here is a picture of us cutting off the selvedge on the Craft Room fabric.

This is the south facing window.  At the bottom of the picture, you will notice my computer desk.  During the day, the sun really blazes through this window and renders it impossible to use my computer.  Because of this, I bought room darkening fabric for the curtain liner.

This is the other window in the room.

Here is a close-up of the fabric.  As you can see, it is a small, blue floral pattern with a white background.  I bought this fabric at Hobby Lobby.

The Nursery curtains were a heavier fabric, so I bought muslin for the liner.  I thought this pattern would look great in the Nursery's songbird themed room.  I was fortunate to find this fabric on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics.  At the time of the picture, we hadn't bought the curtain hold-backs.  Each window now has one hold-back so that the curtain panel sweeps across the window.

This is the view out of the Nursery's East facing window.  So pretty.

This is the view out of the Nursery's South facing window in the morning.  The bright yellow of the forsythia bush really stands out against muted tones of the frost and fog covered backyard.

This was a side project that Jim and I have been working on.  We wanted to put Avonlea's name above her crib, and this is what we came up with.   I know.  I know.  That's so cookie-cutter.  How unlike me. ^_^*  We painted it using the wall and ceiling colors.  We bought the letters at Hobby Lobby and the board at Lowe's.  Jim routered the edges to give it a nice detail.
I think she likes it.  :) 


We have just been doing small projects around the house.  Jim has finished the trimwork around the hall window, and has done a few things out in the yard.  I tackled the thorns growing in the grapevine one weekend.  I only have less than a quarter left to do.  Hopefully we'll be able to salvage the grapevine.  When we bought this place, the grapes were taken over by thorn bushes and the supports for the vines had collapsed.  Jim is slowly making progress on the Nursery and Guest Room closets.  He is still in the sanding and painting phase of the individual parts, so no actual closet construction yet.  I'm looking forward to organizing Avonlea's closet.  I'm getting tired of having one small dresser for her current size and all the rest stored in boxes.  One day soon!

Monday, March 5, 2012


On one of the few snowy days we had in February, Jim went outside and snapped these pictures.

From our mailbox

From our back deck

The Snowball Bush

The Pine Tree in the back that Jim wants to one day run electricity out to so we can decorate it for Christmas.

From the end of the driveway


The nursery, stairs, and upstairs hallway were carpeted just before Christmas.  The Guest Room's carpet wasn't ready until just before the new year.
But, before the carpeting could be installed on the stairs, the old carpeting had to be torn out...

Looking Down

Looking Up green and salmon pink

 Ahhh!  Much better!

What a difference!

It is really coming along nicely.

Looking towards Guest Room

Standing in front of Guest Room doorway

It doesn't look like the same upstairs anymore!

Close-up of the hall and stairway carpeting

Hall Closet
 We used some leftover Pergo flooring from my Craft Room

With the trim added

As soon as the carpet installers left, I went upstairs and rolled on the nursery floor.  LOL!

Guest Room

It's About Time for an Update!

I'm finally able to update!  Yea!  I apologize for taking so long.  Jim has been working on a post about his newel posts, but he is taking forever with it, so I'm going to go ahead and post some pictures of the installation.  

The Shoe Rail

1/2 Newel Post Up with 1 Side of Balustrade

Coming Along

We don't have blueprints for the house; so instead, we placed a blue note and a 2011 nickel in the newel post.

Almost Finished!

Looking Good!

Happy Birthday to me!

The upstairs hallway is probably starting to look more like it used to prior to the 1960's.
Jim will hopefully finish his post about the installation one of these days.