Category Archives: House and home

My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Bryan and Ken hang out together, but not on purpose.My long time buddy (closer than a brother) called me last night. I am totally envious of him because he has three grandchildren with a fourth due on August 1. Mari and Brian, Bryan’s daughter and son-in-law broke down in Chehalis on the way to a Birthday party for their nephew up in Bellingham. They were in the Walmart parking lot waiting for Bryan to arrive to bring another car. Bryan told me they were planning to get a hotel and wondered if they could park the broken down car at our house.

Of course, we went down and picked them up to stay with us overnight (how many times have the Joyce families bailed me out and/or had me stick around for dinner? The number is too high to count). We are so grateful they could stay with us and we took them down for the normal massive breakfast at Country Cousin in the morning. Then Bryan arrived, we got all the car stuff sorted out, and I was saying goodbye to everyone when Bryan had a thought.

He said, “Hey, Ken. This would be a great spot to take some drone pictures.”

Lorena had already headed off to Ikea in Renton go buy some beds–we were a little bit embarrassed about our lack of accommodations so we decided it was time to try to fix that a little, so she would never know I was not completing my honey-do’s.

I said, “Yeah, that would be great.”

So we did. the pictures are below. The first picture is a view of the house looking toward the West. The property boundary is just this side of the workshop at the top of the image and runs down to the very end of the cul-de-sac. The South boundary is the trees and the North boundary is the road that ends in the cul-de-sac. There are several more pictures if you click on the “Continue reading…” below.

Thanks Bryan! Again.

House looking toward the West

Continue reading My buddy Bryan brings his drone

Breaking down and buying binoculars

Nikon D90 in bonus roomWe found the power cable to the charger for Christian’s Nikon D90 Camera. We set it up to take pictures of stuff going on in the yard, the area just above the Chehalis river, the town behind it, the hills behind that, and finally Mount Rainier behind that. We cannot see the river, but that draws a ton of wildlife so we absolutely benefit from its presence. We kind of have not figured out the camera yet, but eventually I will find the time to figure it out and start to take some photos.

We had a long talk with Christian about which zoom lens we should get.

He said, “What do you want to do with it?”

We said, “We want to take pictures of the mountain, stuff like deer, flowers, and birds in the yard, and birds like the bald eagle that was on the tree by the river yesterday morning.”

We got it all figured out, but we cannot afford it all for awhile, so in the meantime, I bought some binoculars with image and video capture capability. I am sure they are not great, but they are much better than what we have now and we can just use them as binoculars. Here is what we are getting. I will leave you with one more deer picture we took at dinnertime out on the deck this afternoon.

Deer in the back yard

Luis’ and Mine’s paintings

Luis paints us a pictureOur dear friends Luis and Mine who are also Lorena’s brother Rigo’s father and mother-in-law each painted us a painting for our new house when we moved to North Carolina. It was so kind of them to paint these for us and we love them a lot. Now we have found a great home for both of them in our new house.Mine paints us a picture Mine’s painting is perfect for a kitchen setting. We found a tripod for it and keep it on the counter. The colors are just perfect, too.

Luis’ painting is amazing. It is a street scene that is very, very Mexican in style. One of the bathrooms in the house has a patently Mexican motif and the colors match remarkably well. We would have had a hard time finding a painting better than the one Luis painted for us.

We are grateful to them both.

Kitchen remodel: We have water and all the faucets

Pot filler and vegetable sink faucetsThis morning, the plumber and his son showed up at 8:00 AM on the dot to plumb all the faucets and the dishwasher. We were very pleased with the work. Right now it seems like the work is proceeding inch by inch. After the plumber left, the granite guy came back to drill another hole in the granite for the sprayer beside the vegetable sink faucet. He was an hour later than scheduled, but we enjoyed the visit very much. He did a great job. We spoke Spanish the whole time he was here (a Puerto Rican guy who married a Mexican girl from Michoacán).

Every time someone comes to fix something, one or two more things are uncovered. This time it was the attachment of the dishwasher (I will eventually put up a picture of that) to the granite. It requires another piece of metal no one had yet considered, but Mark P. promised he will install. In addition to that, we could install the vegetable sink sprayer, but we could not hook it up to water because the plumbing guys were already gone. Mark P. is going to deal with all of that after he gets back from vacation at Crescent Lake in Oregon after the Fourth of July. I will not get to see it until the week after that though because I am spending the fourth of July in China.

P.S. We have water to the faucets and drains in the sink so we actually have an operational kitchen. It will not be completely operational until we have our hood and the replacement for the second oven door, but we are getting very close now.

The mountain (again) and water in the kitchen

Mount Rainier from Centralia, WA June 22, 2017

I woke up to this view of Mt. Rainier from my home office this morning. I would say I am sorry for putting up so many images, but I have not gotten tired of it yet and I am not yet sorry for putting up so many pictures of the mountain. In other good news, the plumber is scheduled to be here at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning so we should have water in our kitchen. We need to get one more hole drilled for the vegetable sink sprayer and that is not scheduled to happen until 3:00 PM. That means I get to play plumber for a little while to put the (already hooked to the water supply) sprayer. What could go wrong?

Kitchen remodel: Texturing and (still) faucet searching

We bought a ladder so the texturer could textureFor a non-eventful day, today has been pretty eventful. Yesterday, we realized that the ceiling in our house is really high. Mark and his wall and/or his ceiling texturing guy brought an eight foot ladder to texture the ceiling. It turns out he needed a ten foot ladder. It dawned on us that we would need a ten foot ladder to clean the windows, so we went down to our local Ace hardware store and bought ourselves a new ladder. The texturing is done now so the living room and the kitchen are now ready to paint.

In the mean time, we have now ordered our third vegetable sink faucet. The first one was too big, the second one was too long (we would have water on the floor–it is a little sink), and now we hope we have ordered one that is just right. It is the same brand as the main sink and the pot-filler sockets so it should match nicely. Also, it is what is called a “bar” faucet so the length of the spout is only eight and a half inches so it should center itself over the drain in the sink. In addition it has a sprayer. That will require another hole in the faucet, but it will be worth the wait. We ordered it from Amazon and paid for one day shipping so, hopefully, we will have water before the weekend.

The latest and most painful challenge so far for Lorena is to decide what color she wants to paint the walls. I am staying out of it. I am sure it will be fine whatever it is.

Kitchen remodel: The first faucet arrives

Main sink faucet in the boxWe have had a little bit of a struggle getting the faucets here to our remodel to be able to really start using the kitchen. We were really happy today the first set arrived today. It consists of the faucet and sprayer for the main kitchen. We ordered the pot-filler and the vegetable sink faucet, but they are not scheduled to get here for another week or so.

We had a struggle choosing the faucets. We found the main sink and pot-filler faucets that were just perfect, but we could not find a vegetable sink faucet, so we ordered the best the closets we could find. Today, though, Lorena found one that was much better so I ordered it on Amazon. We will have to send the previous one we ordered back, but in the end, we will have faucets that match.

Kitchen remodel: Quite a bit complete, but quite a bit left to do

The broken bottom ovenI thought I would try to catch up on the kitchen remodel posts today because I unexpectedly found some breathing room from my day job and side gig. The  kitchen is really starting to look like it is going to look in the end with a couple major items some medium size items and a lot of small items. I thought it would be easiest to just show some pictures of where we are and explain what is left to do.

First, I promised a picture of the oven that got broken in or before shipping. We no longer have the shattered door, but we have a picture of the empty space where the door should be. It does not even look so bad that way, but it is worthless for anything other than shelf space the way it is now.

Here is all the stuff remaining that we know needs to be completed:

1. Faucets for the main and vegetable sinks and a pot-filler faucet for the stove
2. Exhaust hood for the stove top
3. Glass for the buffet/coffee service cabinets
4. All the drawer and cabinet door pulls
5. Adjustment of the cabinet doors so they are level and even with each other
6. Bottom oven door replacement
7. Paint for the kitchen
8. Moulding for the living room
9. Moulding for the cabinet tops

and finally…

10. Paint for the living room if we can afford it. Otherwise we wait or do it ourselves.

Update: Oops. Thought of a couple more:

11. Light brackets for the ceiling lights
12. Wall plastering
13. Under-cabinet LED lights
14. Electrical fixtures
15. Dishwasher

More pictures to give a sense for the state of the kitchen:

Almost done: Full frontal view of the kitchen

Almost done: The vitrina without glass

Almost done: View from the dining room

Almost done: View of the stove, ovens and backsplash

Not the remodel, just a little progress

Library on the landing, left Library on the landing, rightLorena works hard at getting us unpacked from our recent move. It is easier to see the floor in some of our rooms and more than half of the stuff has been moved out of the garage. The challenge now is that we sold and gave away a ton of stuff when we left North Carolina. Even though our living space is smaller here (we are not counting the daylight basement apartment) that it was in North Carolina, we are short on furniture to make it livable. It should be done to get the stuff, but in the meantime, our visitors are going to frequently be relegated to folding chairs.

The pictures in this post are our second floor landing/library. We hope to change the floor, add some bookshelves and make the railing be something you can see through, but that will come after we finish the kitchen and do a few other upgrades–hopefully including something to help us manage the parts of the property that are not purposely wild.

Lorena found a lot of our old homeschool plans, books and projects when she unpacked thing for the library. I hope I get the time before to long to go through them. I always get asked about how we did our homeschool, not that we think we did such a great job, and it would be kind of nice to be able to tell them something other than that we got good programs, tested, and worked hard. The planning was actually pretty extensive and we have the lesson plans at hand now to really demonstrate that.

Kitchen remodel: Mark, the Electrician and the Tile Guy

Mark and his electrician (Frank Waddell)  The electrician working on the under-cabinet lighting

I thought the picture on the left was a great picture of our contractor Mark and his electrician with the ceramic guy in the background. We arrived on Wednesday night while they were still in the house. What a great team of people. It has just been a joy working with Mark and his people. The picture on the left is of the installation of one of the under-cabinet LED lights above the coffee shelf. The LED’s are great because they do not heat up too much like halogen, are now just as bright (for this application) and last a long, long time.

Getting ready to install the backsplash over the stoveThis pictures gives a sense for the state of the kitchen when we got there on Wednesday night. It is much further along and I plan to post a bunch of new pictures this weekend.  The ceramic tile back splash is completed (we love it). This is the ceramic guy getting ready to do his thing. We really enjoyed having him here working. He placed the tiles on Wednesday, then came back and spent another four hours on Thursday morning to add the grout and (non-silicon) caulking. I think he spent more time cleaning and shining the back splash when he finished installing it than he did on the installation itself. Lorena was super, super happy with how it came out.

Kitchen remodel: Backsplash complete

I just have a few minutes now at lunchtime to put up what happened so far today. I have more pictures from last night when Lorena and I got home which I hope to put up later tonight. The kitchen has come a long way, but there are a ton of details left. The following are of the backsplash before and after grout behind the coffee shelf and the stove top. The first picture of the stove top shows it with the stainless steel knobs. The second one has the classic Thermador blue knobs. We are not sure which ones we like best. Fortunately, they are easy to change whenever we get tired of the ones that are on there.

Coffee shelf with backsplash tile in place, but no groutCoffee shelf with backsplash tile in place and grout

Stove top backsplash, no grout, stainless knobsStove top backsplash, with grout, blue knobs

Kitchen remodel: A pad for the propane tank

The pad for the propane tank to feed the new stove topWell, a ton of stuff got done today on the kitchen and Mark took a BUNCH of pictures for us. The problem is that he texted them to us and we do not have access to our text messaging on our phones until we get back to into (or at least within radio range of) America sometime tomorrow evening. Nevertheless, he got the pavers put down to make a pad for the propane tank which will be installed along with the gas lines tomorrow. That we means we will have a mostly working kitchen when we get home.

We are very excited to see how it all looks, but are not sure we will be able to put up many (or any) photos tomorrow because we are going to try to make it to our Wednesday night bible study if we possibly can. One of the other things they will be doing is hooking up the Kitchen phone line which we will not use for phones, but only for our DSL service. What that also means is that I have about a half day worth of work to set up wireless for all three floors in the house and especially my upstairs office.

Kitchen remodel: Drawer and cabinet pulls

Drawer and cabinet pulls for the Centralia kitchenThis post is not such an exciting one unless you are really into drawer and cabinet pulls, but later tonight we should have something on the shattered bottom oven of the double oven set. We will have to wait a week or so until a replacement door gets here. Everything is now installed except the stove hood. The back splash has to be all installed before that can go in. The black splash cannot really go in until the potfiller over the stove goes in, so I think we are a few days away from having everything. After that, they will paint. Hopefully, I will have one or two pictures of where we are later tonight.

Mark found the exact pulls Lorena wants and will be installing them soon. This picture is from the catalog.

Unpacking the books

Lorena start building the library in CentraliaSince we actually believe (or desire, God willing) we will be in the house for years to come, Lorena has earnestly started to unpack the books and put them into what we hope to be at least part of our small, but memory filled library. We have what we have always felt like was lots and lots of books even though we have  thrown out quite a few. This is about 1/3 to 1/2 of our books so I guess we really did not have that many in the end.

A lot of our books are the stuff we kept from homeschool. We also have a lot of the kids’ work and all their test and other records filed away in a filing cabinet. I do not know if I am nuts to keep the stuff, but it was such a big part of our lives that it is kind of hard to throw the stuff away. We read a lot of these books aloud together. I guess we are hoping we will have friends’ kids who will enjoy them when they visit and maybe even grandkids someday.

All this stuff went up onto the second floor landing where there is room for some more book cases when we can afford them. We have a couch and two chairs and want to put a ton of lights in there, too. Right now, we have a closed balcony wall that looks down into the living room from the landing. We want to modify that so we have a glass barrier that so it will open the room up a bunch more. There is already plenty of light coming in from skylights in the living room and a could of high windows. It is a nice room. Honestly we are loving this house.

Kitchen remodel: Faucet selection

We are trying to figure out what faucets we want for the kitchen. We need three: 1) the main sink, 2) the vegetable sink, and 3) the pot-filler. Mark told us to just pick some we like, then we will go back and forth a little as the plumber will be supplying the faucets. They just need to know the style and finish we want for each. Here is what we found that we like. We will see how close we can come to this.

Faucet selection: vegetable sink Faucet selection: main sink Faucet selection: pot-filler

On another note, we are starting to look at outdoor kitchen options. We are thinking of going with this grill cooler for the side deck to get us started.

Grill/cooler for outside deck

Work and anytime fitness

Lorena at Anytime Fitness in CentraliaWe still don’t have any appliances, but Mark is scheduled to bring them here and install them next week along with the propane tank and gas lines needed to run the stove. In the mean time, Lorena is on a regular schedule at Anytime Fitness again and I am working full time from my (somewhat messy) home office with the view of Rainier. This is ALL a very good thing. Mark will be here to do his work next week while we are gone. It is nice to have someone watch the house. The week after that is painting week and we should be all done.

We will be up in a Hilton Hotel in Vancouver, BC with an Anytime Fitness across the street from us. It does not get much better than that. This is something I think we will be able to do together on a semi-regular basis. My new company has certainly been treating me well so far.

Kitchen remodel: The granite is in!

I have a ton of work to get done for my new job, but Lorena sent me the pictures of the granite as it went into the kitchens. I do not have time to say much other than a few notes, but the pictures kind of speak for them selves.

Prepping the cabinets — a steel bar needed to be added as a support for the relatively large over hang.

Granite in the kitchen #1

Granite in the kitchen #2

Granite in the kitchen #3

The small piece of granite for the coffee and tea service area.

Granite in the kitchen #4

Granite in the kitchen #5

Granite in the kitchen #6

Granite in the kitchen #7

The vegetable and main sinks.

Granite in the kitchen #8     Granite in the kitchen #9

Some overall views.

Granite in the kitchen #10     Granite in the kitchen #11

Granite in the kitchen #12

All our stuff in one place

Our stuff arrives from North CarolinaBob and Gena are true champions. They have been kind to us way above and beyond the call of duty. They arrived in Centralia with all our stuff from North Carolina Friday evening. All of us, including their daughter Bonnie, went to the McMenamin’s Olympic club to celebrate–the weather cooperated wonderful as we were able to sit outside and talk and talk.

We made arrangements for two guys to come help us unload the truck. We got unloaded in about three hours. After two years of taking care of parents and living in apartments, we are grateful to have all our stuff in one place and to sleep in our own bed in a house of our own and not an apartment. After everything was out of the truck, Kelly arrived from Seattle while Bob and I ran the truck to the U-Haul center and returned the appliance piano dollies to the local rental store. Bob, Gena, Lorena, Kelly and I sat out on the deck, ate fresh cherries Kelly brought to us and enjoyed the sun.

It was one of those moment to realize it is great to be alive in this time and place.