I’ll Be on the Porch

unfinished-beams
Naked beams, no siding.

The last time we visited our porch progress was on December 1st! Well, after all of the excitement of the holidays, the guys got back to working on our screened porch, which was just so much more complicated than I expected. By the time they had finished the interior work, the porch had a roof and a floor, but the posts were unfinished, and the walls were still Tyvek plastic wrap!

imag1245
The “T” has our peacock motif, with bits of songs and book quotes worked into the colors.

porch-dishesEveryone who asked me about Christmas discovered that my wish list was all about the porch. Our color scheme will allow me to have lots of fun with our last name, so we’re going with a dark wood ceiling, dark wicker furniture, white posts and railings, white cushions, and lots of pops of teal. I picked out a set of outdoor dishware at Pier One, and between gifts and gift cards, I was able to get 8 place settings of the whole thing! They call it turquoise, but I’m saying teal. I also found a teal lantern on clearance. My friend Andrea Pearlstein of BookPearls created this beautiful collage “T” for our wall, and David gave me a tiny peacock table for between the rockers—just big enough for two coffee cups.

snow-on-porch
We had a few set-backs. Hard to believe that it snowed this year.

The carpenters built up the posts around the porch and gave them the shape I showed them from a picture in Southern Living. I didn’t expect the side trim, but that’s because the Southern Living porch was not screened. Each section of the porch has a separate section of screen, so if there is a tear (oh, no!), we only have to replace that section. side-trim-on-postsThey wrapped the posts in a weather-proof material so that it will look beautiful year after year. After putting new siding on the walls, they started painting. There was so much painting to do!

beginning-stainOne of the most difficult parts of the porch was finding the right stain for the beadboard ceiling. We wanted to match the acacia flooring inside the house, so Greg gave us the Minwax brochure, and then created eight samples from the colors we chose. None of them were right! Most of them looked the same—blackish-brown—with one or two orange boards. Greg agreed that nothing worked, so he took a piece of our floor and an unfinished piece of our ceiling to Sherwin-Williams so that they could create a custom color. Beautiful. However, what a mess to apply! The guys used a sponge to wipe the stain above their heads, and it was watery and ran everywhere. This took several days, and I know they were glad when it was over. Afterward, they coated the ceiling with a semi-gloss, weatherproof sealant. It has swirls of light and dark, just like our floor. Landon then had to paint over the smears on the yellow siding and white trim.

porch-fanWay back when, I had chosen a fan for the porch with tropical leaf blades. However, when the electrician came out to do the first phase of his work, he told me that I would have to have multiple switch boxes on the wall beside the back door if I had all of the floodlights on separate switches and the fan and fan light on separate switches. So, I compromised by putting two of the floodlights on one switch and choosing to get a fan with a remote control, so that there was only one wall switch for it. I had no idea that the original fan was in my garage until the day that the electricians were coming back to install it. It did not have a remote control, just chain pulls hanging down! We had to cancel the electricians for the day and go on a hunt for an appropriate fan. Perhaps it would have been easier in June, but our local home improvement stores did not have outdoor fans with remote controls in stock, even at the warehouse. Amazon came through for me, though. We found one with rattan, leaf-shaped blades that match the wicker rockers. Two-day Prime shipping, and we’re back in business.

outletThe electricians came through and put up the fan, floodlights, and four of the ugliest outlets I have ever seen. This is the building code. They are on these little pipes because they have to be high enough off the floor that if rain hit the floor, it wouldn’t splash onto them, which is actually safe. I’ll have to arrange furniture to hide them. I was hoping to put a glass side table over one of them, but of course, the outlet is higher than the table.

porch-door
You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a porch door in January.

We had final inspection last week! We failed. The two stairways, one from the porch and one from the new kitchen door, needed adjustment, because the code had recently changed concerning the height of the top and bottom steps. Furthermore, they needed to dig a drain pipe coming out from the breakfast room crawlspace. All that has been done, and all of the piles of lumber and materials have been removed from the yard. finished-empty-porchMason used a backhoe to take away the big rocks and chunks of cement that were dug up when the foundation went in, and then smoothed the yard and spread grass seed and hay. Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of crows hanging around lately, and I think the grass seed may have been devoured. The backhoe is still sitting in the yard, waiting on the final inspection tomorrow.

laptop-ready
It’s not work when it’s on the porch.

The weekend weather forecast was so beautiful that I texted Greg on Friday and asked, “Can we put furniture out on the porch, or do we have to wait until after the inspector leaves?” He replied, “Put it out!” So we did, and I have lived out here every minute that I could. Saturday morning, I told David, “I plan to read and write on the porch as much as I can today,” and when I walked outside a couple of hours later, I saw that he had already set up my laptop, ready and waiting for me. Husband of the year.

david-on-porch
Sunday morning coffee

We have a long way to go on furnishing the porch, and we have already discovered that we will definitely need blinds, especially when the weather heats up! But the woods behind my house are so peaceful. The peepers are singing, and the barred owls must think it’s spring, since their calls end in long whirr-rr-rrs. And I’ve got a rocking chair, so if you need me, I’ll be on the porch.

rockers_____________

Update! We passed inspection! It’s all ours now.

The Cord-Cutting Chronicles

Help for those looking to save money on television access.

If you’re like me, you’ve had numerous conversations with all sorts of folks about the ridiculously high price we pay for cable television and the lack of control we have over our choices. Our television viewing is mostly news and sports, along with a few series that we enjoy, but usually watch after they’ve been recorded on DVR. Unfortunately, most of them are CBS shows (Big Bang, Elementary), and CBS is remarkably territorial about their programs. They have a proprietary app, and they tend not to share. These few things have kept us tied to Time Warner Cable for years.

twcLately, while paying bills, I’ve been noticing that our TWC bill has been creeping up. When our “bundle” expired last summer, the Time Warner rep had no qualms about telling me that they had no special deals for returning customers. At that time, the Time Warner/ Spectrum merge was just beginning, as was the football season. Annoyed as I was, I was not emotionally ready to skip the entire season of SEC football, and I’m sure my husband would have cheerfully taken out a home equity loan to watch the Gamecocks. So we cut some services and did the best we could. However, as the inheritance in my savings account has flowed into my contractor’s bank account, we knew that we had to be ruthless immediately following the last Panther’s game on New Year’s Day.

Our January TWC bill had somehow reached $176 per month for internet access and basic cable, with one DVR. I’d wrestled with the customer service people at Direct TV and Dish, and had found them to be rude and pushy. My sister has Dish, and even though the service is great, she reports that they are the most dishonest company she has ever dealt with. (We both agreed that Netflix is the most honest company we’ve ever dealt with.) Furthermore, I was not interested in getting into another contract, with equipment rentals and so on. That would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. All that being said, the best news I’ve heard in years is that there are now at least two new options for people looking for live TV without a contract: Sling TV and DirectTVNow. These are services that stream directly through your internet connection, and can be used on your TV, tablet, phone, or any other device.

sling-logoSling TV is $20 a month for their basic group of channels, which includes CNN, HGTV, Food Network, BBC America, and all the ESPNs, among other channels that don’t matter to me. They also have additional packages that you can add on, including a sports package that has the SEC Network. Since there is no contract, we could pick up the extra sports package for only $5 a month during football season, and then drop it during the off-season. While researching Sling, I read that Hulu has signed a contract with CBS, so I felt comfortable that I could get both for $32 a month total, and have access to all of my shows.

directtvnowDirectTVNow is $35 a month for their basic service, which has all of the above channels, plus a few more, including Fox News. It also has no contracts, and can be dropped at any time. I read a lot of reviews of all of these services, and a couple of in-depth reviews said that Sling had more buffering issues, particularly with sports, than DTN. However, when I put out a Facebook post, asking friends about their experiences, I got a few favorable reviews of Sling, and no reviews of DTN. Since it was cheaper, and the app was already installed on our smart TV downstairs, we decided to go with the Sling/ Hulu combination.

Dropping Time Warner down to internet only was more difficult than I had imagined. The merge with Spectrum has been completed, and apparently customer service was a major casualty. The rep told me that internet-only would cost $80 per month. When I let him know that I was appalled, he said that I was a returning customer, and would therefore get no discounts. Then he told me that I could bundle local channels with internet for $70 a month. When I told him that my son, down the road a few miles, was paying $50 a month for Turbo internet only, he said that he must be on a new-customer plan. He tried to sell me their top speed internet, which we’d been paying for in our bundle, and I reminded him that even TWC admitted that our area did not have the infrastructure to make that speed possible. Furthermore, we had turned in our rented modem a couple of months ago, but I could see that they are still charging us rent, even though we now own our own modem. Eventually, I let him know that we were going to a no-contract, internet-based television provider, that there were plenty of other internet providers available now, and that I was amazed that TWC had any customers left. I said that I would take the internet-only price he had quoted, and would immediately start looking into other providers, so expect me to call and cancel soon. He found a way to get the price to $59 a month, and my son told me later that that was what he was paying, too.

huluWith that done, I went online to SlingTV and Hulu and signed up for the 7-day free trial for both. Very simple, no hassle at all.

Our Blue-Ray player upstairs has Hulu installed, so we went online immediately and searched for our favorite shows. Scorpion is a show that I have wanted to watch for some time. Unfortunately, it is in its second season, and I have never been able to find the first season on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Hulu does not have it, either. Thank you, CBS. The newest Elementary episodes were a year old, so that contract with CBS hasn’t kicked in yet. Otherwise, I could get just about everything else on Netflix or Amazon, so within a couple of days, we canceled Hulu.

sling-guy
SlingTV. You have to admit, it’s a memorable ad campaign.

Our smart TV downstairs has the Sling app pre-installed, and we could Chromecast* it upstairs. CNN came in as clearly as it did with cable, so we spent a couple of mornings with Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo. We are used to the Fox News morning crew, although I spent most of the primary last year watching CNN, because they had much more balanced coverage. (That changed during the general election.) I am familiar with Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper in the evening, though, not the breakfast show. In my experience, CNN and Fox News each give half of the news, both because of their opposing perspectives on the events, and because of what they choose not to cover at all. It was frustrating not to be able to switch back and forth for the different viewpoints.

It was the sports shows, though, that made the decision. The drag and buffering were insufferable. We watched some basketball games in which the player jumped up, the ball left his hands, and the picture froze, only to start again with everyone running down the court in the other direction. We didn’t know if he had made the shot or not. Also, when they were running, the picture blurred. Sometimes, it stopped altogether. We realized that, even though $20 was a great price, we were not getting anything that we wanted. We decided to cancel Sling, as well.

Canceling Sling and Hulu were both very easy. I went online, logged in, and went through the steps outlined. Both services wanted to know why we were canceling and tried to lure us back, but after a few clicks, it was done. I received emails confirming the cancellations, and since they were both well within their seven-day trials, we paid nothing.

 

fire-stick-image
Amazon’s Fire Stick, $40.

So, we were left with DirectTVNow. I tried calling them for more information, and it took me 24 minutes to reach a live person. That was annoying, but once I did reach her, she was actually helpful, although she lied that they had CBS. They don’t. I went online to sign up for their service, and ended up paying one month in advance in order to receive the Amazon Fire Stick for free. I was going to buy one for the upstairs Samsung TV anyway, since Chromecast streams from your phone, so you can’t use it while you are watching TV. I received a confirmation email saying, basically, “Thanks so much for signing up, and you’ll get your Fire Stick in 2 or 3 weeks.” Two or three weeks!? So I went downstairs to figure out how to get the DTN app onto our Sony smart TV, and after working hard to find it on the Google Play Store on the TV, then discovering that Sony’s customer service people don’t answer the phone on Sundays, I did an online chat with Sony. The answer is: they don’t have the DTN app and have no plans to get it. So, I ordered another Fire Stick from Amazon and found out that the new one won’t be released until January 21st, and they’ve taken the old one off the market. On the upside, we can Chromecast downstairs, too, so we spent a while exploring DTN. We watched Fox News. We watched a basketball game with a much clearer picture and much less drag than Sling. I think we’re home, and I’m hoping that the experience is even better with Fire Stick than with Chromecast.

mohu-leaf
Mohu Leaf antenna: the thickness of a piece of paper.

As for local channels, we have none. All of the online reviewers and one of our friends recommended the Mohu Leaf indoor antenna. Buy it once for about $70, and you’re done. I’ll let you know if this works to fill in the CBS and PBS gap. I must find a solution before the next season of Grantchester. Of course, we can always plug the laptop into the TV for PBS.

On another note, we have a sound bar on our Sony, and when we removed Time Warner’s cable box, it threw the sound bar back to factory settings. The sub-woofer went to zero. David had to dig out the owner’s manual and re-set the sound. All is well now.

Lessons learned?

  • If possible, hate sports and be happy with internet news sites. This will save you a lot of money.
  • Do not rent equipment; buy it. Even though TWC will update your modem for free, they will only do this every few years, and you can pay for an excellent new modem with six or seven months’ rent.
  • Be willing to drop services. You’d be amazed to find that life continues without DVR.
  • Take advantage of free trials. I tend to think that if I research a service enough, I will be sure to love it, but actual experience shows otherwise. Be realistic.
  • Make a decision to watch less casual television. Don’t keep the TV on for no reason. Read a book. Write a book. Go outside and play.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new technology. Do research on Google and irritate customer service reps and teenaged/ grown children. You’ll learn a lot.

I’ll write another update once we receive the Mohu Leaf antenna and watch DirectTVNow through the Amazon Fire Sticks. In the meantime, I’ve saved over $80 a month!

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Disclaimer: These are just our experiences, and yours may vary. We do not receive any benefits from any of these services for this article.

*Chromecast is a little plug-in that we’ve had for years for our upstairs “dumb” TV, and it came pre-loaded in our smart TV. It allows you to “cast” selected videos or images on your phone, laptop, or tablet onto your TV screen.

All I Want for Christmas Is a Floor

It was such a relief to get the breakfast room opened up, with sheetrock on the walls. However, we were just weeks from Christmas, and my extended family was due to show up for Christmas dinner at our house. Would we make it? Greg estimated that his crew would be done with the interior of the house by Friday, the 16th. Two major projects had to happen: 1) the new walls had to be primed, and all the walls in the kitchen had to be painted, but even more overwhelmingly, 2) hardwood floor and baseboards had to be installed throughout the entire first floor. Up until now, we had had three types of flooring downstairs. The dining room and powder room had skinny, clear-coated oak hardwood that I had never liked. The living room had carpeting that had been off-white at some point in ancient history, and the kitchen, pantry, and laundry room had vinyl. We decided to leave the vinyl in the laundry room for practical reasons.

Months ago, I had visited the flooring store in Raleigh with the express purpose of choosing a warm, dark, solid hardwood. The salesman had discussed our project with Greg, and had already selected all of the solid hardwoods that fit our budget. I didn’t like any of them. The one that I had imagined was far too red, and besides, I wanted wide planks. The salesman told me what every single contractor I’d interviewed had told me: Don’t buy wide-plank solid hardwood. After a few years, it will warp and “cup,” especially in North Carolina’s humid climate. He showed me a few of his showroom samples that were showing obvious signs of cupping.

floor-samples
So many choices! Always take them home overnight.

He started to talk to me about engineered hardwood, but I stopped him, because I thought it was laminate. “Oh, no!” he protested, “it’s all wood. Let me show you.” He proceeded to show me that engineered hardwood has thin layers of wood going back and forth, with the top layer being the wood you want to see, topped by a finishing layer that protects it from scratches. The alternating directions of the wood layers keep it flat, so that you can get wide planks without warping over the years. I called David to join me, since I was nervous about making such an important decision on my own. As a realtor, David is up on everything about home construction, so I felt confident when he agreed that engineered hardwood was a great choice for us. Suddenly, we had many more options within our budget. After we looked at dozens of samples with no clear winner, the salesman pulled two acacia wood samples out of the Mohawk display, and I fell in love. We still took home a car full of sample boards to live with overnight. It was definitely the acacia. It has a lot of variation in the colors, with knots and interesting markings.

It seemed so long ago that we had chosen the floor that I could barely remember it, and then I woke up one night thinking, “What if it’s been discontinued?” But boxes and boxes of it arrived one day to sit in our house and acclimate over the weekend. Wood flooring has to adjust to the temperature and humidity of your house for a few days so that it does not shift after it is installed. David and I spent the weekend packing up everything on the first floor except for the large furniture, moving it upstairs until the floors were done. On Tuesday, December 13th, the floor started to go down.

living-room-first-floor
The flooring is started! Little did we know that it would be ripped out the next day. The anvil bookcase is here on the left. Even empty, it’s a bear.

I could not wait to get home from work to see it. Since it is dark when I get home, and we had few lights that still worked downstairs, at first I could only see beautiful dark wood over about half of the living room. As I looked, though, I could see ripples on the edges of each piece. In despair, I texted Greg, and he came out the next day, took pictures, and ripped out the entire last day’s work. After a discussion with the manufacturer, they started over, but we had lost a day’s work. At the end of the 14th, we had the living room done, although it was still covered with dust, and the furniture placement was waiting for baseboards and painting.

living-room-floor-dusty
The living room floor is done! You can almost see it under that white layer!

By the end of the day on Friday, the 16th, when we should have been done, we still had not finished the dining room or kitchen. David and I had to go out of town to care for his mom for the weekend, and our house looked like this:

furniture-in-dining-room
Empty dining room, living room, and kitchen furniture, unfinished floors, and lots of grime– and we left for the weekend before Christmas.

Exactly one week before Christmas, we had no tree up, no decorations, and no working kitchen. I cannot tell you how quickly the adventure of eating out and ordering take-out gets old. And expensive. It was nice to get out of the house for the weekend, to cook in our niece’s kitchen, visit with David’s mom, and to spend some time at my sister’s house. I had a housekeeper scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, and I had taken a couple of vacation days from work in order to get ready for Christmas. At this point, all we could do was wrap gifts.

draped-primed-kitchen
Draped cabinets and appliances, primed walls, and the old paint color.

In the midst of the floor emergency the previous week, I had also had twenty-four hours of terror over the kitchen wall color. I am completely insecure about choosing colors, and I had visited Sherwin Williams twice to choose just the right buttery, but cheerful, yellow. The color we had was sunshiny, lemon yellow, and I couldn’t stand it. When Landon put the first of the new color on the pantry walls, it looked exactly the same. When he put a streak or two on the newly primed sheetrock, it looked like mustard. I spent hours on Pinterest and every paint manufacturer’s website that night, and texted Greg in the wee hours with a new paint color. Then, at 7:00 AM, the kitchen looked so nice that I re-texted him and said, “Oh, never mind.” I think he was so stressed about the floor that he barely paid attention.

toilet-doesnt-fitNaturally, unexpected issues cropped up. Since the flooring was a different height, the toilet in the powder room did not fit. It had never fit well, but now it needed a definite adjustment. In the meantime, we were without a toilet downstairs, and I am so glad that I did not notice until we returned Sunday night that our toilet had spent the weekend on the front porch. As Jeff Foxworthy would say, “You might be a redneck….”

On Monday, the crew dove into flooring again, and the electricians arrived. It was thrilling to see the lights that I had chosen finally going up. The hand-blown glass pendants were obviously chosen for the island that I will only see in my dreams until I can save up for Phase 2 of the kitchen reno, the one with cabinets and countertops. I still like them, though. The electricians were amused by the breakfast room chandelier. “It looks like an atom!” It does, and the filament bulbs are extra fun.

3-pendants atom

Then came the dreaded news: we ran out of flooring, and the new flooring had not arrived. I knew that we would need more flooring, since we had ripped out half the living room and ordered more, but we were six days from Christmas and still did not have a floor on the last few feet of the breakfast room. By Tuesday, the walls and baseboards had been painted, and the guys were very helpful about getting all the furniture back in place.

3-guys-under-table
This is a beloved table that we had restored after it had been in a barn on David’s family’s farm for decades. We brought it here in boxes full of large and small pieces. Kudos to Bull Restoration in Raleigh. David has used it as his office table for the last few years. Here Greg and Mason help David to reassemble it after they moved it downstairs.

When the maid arrived Tuesday afternoon, I think she finally understood what I meant by “we’re having some renovations done.” Besides the thick layer of white grit over everything, the toilet in the center of the powder room floor and the lack of a complete floor convinced her. I don’t believe we would have made it without her. She took care of all the basic housework– dusting (lots!), bathrooms, and vacuuming– while David and I hauled boxes up and down the stairs, struggling to get everything back in place. I learned how to use a Bona mop. The plumbers showed up, and Jessica had another bathroom to clean. Tuesday night, our son and his fiancée came over to help us put up the tree and the nativity scene.

living-room-done
The living room, at least, was ready for Santa.

By the time I went back to work on Wednesday, I thought we might make it. Greg texted to say that the floor had arrived. He brought it over to our house to acclimate, and they completed the floor and baseboards by Thursday night. We had a luxurious 48 hours to wrap gifts, cook Christmas dishes, and put on fresh sheets before the family arrived.

breakfast-room-from-living-room
The new breakfast room seen from the living room, complete with atom.
breakfast-room-peach
I’m glad that I finally have a place to put a favorite picture.
living-room-opening
The wider opening to the living room makes hosting a crowd so much easier.

We had a beautiful Christmas with our family. Thank you, Greg and crew!

Tear Down That Wall!

When we last left the inside of our renovation, we had progressed from having an open-air kitchen to a much smaller kitchen with tasteless wall coverings:

tyvek-wall

For several weeks, the carpenters had been working on the inside of the breakfast area, climbing in and out by a ladder. I had no idea what it looked like, and even had to plan lighting placement with the electrician by drawing on the floorplan. I could rejoice in the new porch, even though it was not finished, but I was getting really tired of eating in the living room. Plus, I was so curious to see our new space!

We knew that several things had to happen before they could tear down the wall separating the work area of the kitchen from the new eating area. The framing had to be completed and inspected, then the electrical and HVAC had to be roughed in and inspected, and finally, the insulation had to be installed and inspected. All of these things had to happen one at a time, so that stretched out the days. Oh, and we had to have windows and a door installed! I was eager for natural light in the kitchen again.

Furthermore, you may have noticed that it is December. Tick, tick, tick. My entire family is coming to our house for Christmas. I was supposed to host Thanksgiving this year, but, obviously, we missed that deadline. I let Greg know about my slowly growing panic, and he decided to move all work to the inside. The weather was iffy, anyway, so there was no use waiting for clear skies to nail up siding, when you could easily be inside tearing up stuff.

In the spirit of Joanna Gaines, I had decided to widen the opening between the kitchen and the living room. I had considered this idea and discarded it until I had a group of people over, and we all hung around the island in the kitchen. No one could walk around on the living room side, and that night, I knew I had to open up the space. This was the first task the carpenters accomplished:

old-opening Here is the old opening at David’s birthday party last year.

The day that they uncovered the wall to widen it, they discovered a problem:

problem-with-opening
Mason and Greg are thinking, “Hmmm.”

The original builder of the house had put the two-by-fours over the beam, rather than under it. You can see that this is not working out well after fifteen years. We had discovered a similar problem on the outside wall, where the breakfast room will be. Both times, Greg and his guys have had to install a new beam. This is not fun for them, since it requires lots of sweating, and, quite possibly, words I’ve never heard before. But they got it done.

new-opening
Beam replaced, and Saulo moves on to the next task.
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The new cased opening from the living room side.

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Finally, one day I came home from work to discover a new back door!

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The new triple window!

Once the window and door were in, I knew that the opening would be soon. The next day, the wall was gone!

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My first sight of the new space, standing in the living room.
view-from-dining-room
As you can see, I’m standing in the dining room, looking at a room that didn’t exist a couple of months ago.
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The next day, a delivery of sheetrock let me know that this ugly, brown insulation would soon be covered up.
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It was getting pretty impossible to get around downstairs! Those are the new baseboards running the length of the room.

3-level-floor The floors are disappearing. The vinyl in the kitchen will be replaced, but also the stained, used-to-be-white carpeting in the living room, and even the original hardwood that I never liked.

dining-room-floor-gone

Dining room hardwood is gone!

pantry-upstairs

The pantry needed to have the popcorn ceiling scraped and hardwood floor installed, so it was packed up very systematically, but unfortunately somewhat permanently, by David. No, we did not drink up all the liquor in the boxes before packing, although it might have helped. This was a very stressful evening. After I went to sleep, David moved on to color-coding and numbering the shelving units in the pantry before removing them, along with the hardware. You can see that the baseboards have already been removed throughout the entire downstairs.

pantry-tags-green pantry-tags-orange

drawers Why clean out the china cabinet and buffet drawers into boxes, when you can just remove the whole drawer and bring it upstairs? Unfortunately, my Christmas wrapping paper is in this closet, so no wrapping for me!second-guest-room

These white chairs will go in the new eating area. The contents of the bookcase cabinets landed in this bedroom, along with the paintings from the walls. The oceans of books already lived here.

coffee-bathroom
Never fear, we will find a way to have coffee, and we will not compromise. Saturday mornings are for freshly-ground French Roast. Shower, sip, brush, all in one convenient place.

imag1078 David’s desk in the family room upstairs: sweeteners, cutting board, laptop, toaster, file folders. We are completely squeezed into this one room.

living-room-draped

And here is why we have escaped upstairs: everything is coated in sheetrock dust! But it’s worth it, because when we turn around:

breakfast-room-sheetrocked
The new addition to the kitchen. Waiting for paint, flooring, and lighting– all happening this week!

The View from My Window

Right in the beginning of our renovation project, I started taking photos from my bedroom window, which is right above the new screened porch. Since the outside construction is finished, I realized that this photo-journal is complete! Here is the progress of the view from my window.

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This is the roof of the old porch showing the bald spot in the yard over the newly installed septic tank.
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Looking down where the old porch used to be. Now it’s just crumbling, old piers.
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The new piers are in, and the porch and breakfast room have floor joists.
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Framing in progress on the porch and breakfast room.
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Rafters coming up!
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My new view! I love these shingles. I can still see my favorite elm tree, too.

This Is Getting Exciting!

In case you were waiting to let me know you’re interested in buying the bay window, it’s gone. Who would have known that there was such a brisk market for bay windows? But it was sold in no time. I’ll show you where the money went very soon.

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Really, it’s a breakfast room. It looks much better now.

Our house has a new shape! Soon after my last post, the new kitchen was framed up and closed in. I have no idea what it looks like inside, because they have not made any steps. I think this was premeditated. The carpenters can climb in and out by ladder, but I can only peer upwards through the door opening, which is pretty high off the ground. Finally today, the HVAC person has cut holes out for the vents in the floor. Or so they tell me.

porch-framed
Framing has commenced! It’s starting to look like a porch!

Even more exciting— because I can see it— the porch is completely framed and roofed. We are waiting on the inspector, and then we can wrap the posts in white weatherproof material and add rails, ceiling, and door. Greg was flexible enough to make a spur-of-the-moment change for me. When I came home last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and headed toward the back porch to talk to Mason, a carpenter, the sunset was shining beautifully through the upper triangle under the peak of the roof. I asked Greg whether we could leave the siding off that top portion and just have screen. Today, he figured out how to accommodate the opening, and said yes. So, now my sunsets will all be framed works of art.

porch-ceiling-joists
Beautiful ceiling rafters! You can see most of my coveted open peak at the end.
screen-under-porch
Screening is even important under the floor, so that those little critters don’t crawl up onto your feet.
porch-floor-decking
Floor decking almost done!

Inside, the electricians have gotten started. Here is something I never realized before: electricians are messy. They cut through walls and leave a fine layer of sheetrock dust all over everything, and little chunks of sheetrock all over the floor. Here is a sample of their work.

electricians-holes-wall
Eventually, they just took the whole wall of sheetrock out. Much more efficient.

However, they have installed some very nice can lights, which I love much more than I expected. They bring the light in the kitchen out to the edges, rather than being concentrated in the middle. The little, hanging squares are where they had to drill through beams to pull the wiring through the ceiling. They assure me that this is temporary.

can-lights-and-holes

 

Tonight when I came home from work, we had reached a milestone that I had been anticipating for ever so long: a porch floor. When David and I stepped out back just after the workers left, it started to rain gently on our new roof. We found some chairs.

first-sitting-on-porch

Gained a Porch, Lost a Kitchen

Piers appeared. Somehow the inspector slipped on and off our property without being seen, as usual. And then one day, the outline of a porch magically appeared. We have floor joists! As my sister said, though, “Don’t go fixing a drink and trying to sit out there.” It was so exciting, but then I got a call from Greg, and he was on his way to see me.

porch-floor-joists

He arrived with news. He was on his way to a seminar in Las Vegas, but fear not, he would be in constant contact. However, while he was gone, “the guys” were going to remove the bay window. What? I reminded him that he had said that they would frame up and seal in the new outer wall before removing the current wall. Well, apparently the county inspector does not approve of that logical way of doing things. Before they can begin to frame up the walls, all of the floor must be approved, and since the bay juts out into the new floor, it has to be removed so that the new floor joists can be installed and inspected before framing begins.

This is what my kitchen looked like with the bay window:

bay-window
It’s for sale!

This is what my kitchen looked like without the bay window:

open-air-kitchen
Lots of fresh air! The framing guys are chatty and nice. This is their fourth trip to our house. They were also the demo crew.

This is what passes as an acceptable temporary back wall:

plywood-kitchen
It smells funny, too.

On Friday morning, this government worker was home for Veteran’s Day, and it was 36 degrees outside. The heat was running and running, and although I had on a flannel nightgown, robe, and thick, wooly socks, I was freezing. David tried to light the fireplace, but of course, we were out of propane. While he worked on borrowing a pickup truck to refill the propane tank, I called Greg and left a message offering the opinion that a thin sheet of plywood is fairly useless when it’s this cold, and why are there no workers here on this bright, sunshiny day? Turns out that he was home from his seminar, and although he was quite jetlagged, he showed up in no time with insulation. David showed up with propane at about the same time, and now we are snug as can be in our startlingly ugly kitchen.

tyvek-wall
I can work with the white and the blue, but I never planned for red in the kitchen. Note how the light fixture is about a foot away from the back wall now.

I’ve been told that the termite guy has also treated the two new areas and left his paper in the inspection box. It’s a little unnerving how many people are coming and going without our ever noticing them. David is home most of the time, but he never sees them!

Monday morning, I’ve been promised, will be the start of framing. Thank goodness, since our kitchen table and chairs are in the middle of the living room. In the meantime, the bay window is for sale!