Category Archives: House and home

Lorena finishes her $8 desk

Lorena's refinished $8 desk (plus paint)Lorena put the final coat on her $8 desk project last night, then reattached the draw pulls this morning. The desk is for the guest bedroom, so she can not move it there yet because she is in the middle of repainting it. After that, she is going to try her hand at putting in Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). We watched a video and it appears possible to install without even using a saw, but a utility knife with an LVT blade. She has had several passes at the window frames in the bedroom with primer, putty, and lots of sanding. She is now busily pulling the closet and entry door off. She is going to paint them, too.

Refinishing projects: Finished dining room table

First chairs in the living roomRefinished dining room tableLorena finished her first refinish project–the dining room table, then went out and bought some rugs for the under the table and for the first two chairs in the living room. We have a long, long way to go, but now we at least have a little bit of a plan in place. The big epiphany we had this weekend is that Lorena really thinks she wants to put in the LVT flooring in the first bedroom all by herself. We watched some videos and she really thinks she can do it. I am excited to see what happens next.

Kitchen remodel: Officially complete*

Mark left for home just a few minutes ago. He is officially complete. We are grateful for all his  hard, hard work, the many edifying conversations we had while he was here. He is truly a stand-up guy and made the process fun, interesting and with a better result than if we would have been left to our own devices. If anyone ever wants to get a kitchen done and can talk Mark into doing it, their lives, not to mention their kitchen will be the better for it.

The big thing that was completed in this pass was the addition of the ceiling light fixture rings marked in red in the picture. There were several other items that are not really visible like the fixing of the dishwasher to the counter and stuff like that. The reality is there are several minor things left to complete, only one of them on Mark’s agenda (a small step for the back porch he can do better in his shop). Lorena and I need to change a few light fixtures and add some furniture, then we will take a few pictures for posterity to bring this second kitchen remodel series to an end.

*There will be one more post with pictures after this one.

Kelly moves to better digs

Kelly moves to a new apartmentKelly, with massive help from Mama Lore, moved out of her apartment today. They have a really cool moving service in Seattle where you can have a couple of guys pick up your stuff from your apartment and store it for a month for under $100. That seems to be a really good price, especially for Seattle. Lorena is really glad to be moving out of a house of a bunch of girls to an apartment closer to her work and closer to downtown with one roommate. I am sure she will be sad she was not there to see the hunky guys pick up her stuff–Lorena handled that because Kelly was at work.

Now, Kelly is headed off to Mexico to see family and friends for a week or two with her friend Eliza. Of course we are all envious and would love to be in Monterrey eating tamales and mangoes with her über-hip uncles, but someone has to stay home and work.

Refinishing projects: Staining for the first time in a long time

Second time refinish of the dining room tableLorena found some stain, tried it, did not like it, bought some more stain, decided to do the dining room table top, too, and here we are. She saw the desk at Goodwill a couple of weeks back, texted me a picture of it and said she did not want to buy that piece of junk because it had some pretty deep scratches in it. I told her to buy it and we can use it in the garage because it only cos $8.99. NOW, however, it was a brilliant idea she had to buy the thing because she could sand out those scratches with her brand new Walmart sander.

And yes this is the sander Aunt Jean bought for me when she came to visit in Corvallis in about 1983. We refinished it one time before when we lived in South Florida in the early 90’sStaring on the Goodwill desk. It was due for another pass. I must say, it is looking great. I view this as a very positive turn of events. I am going to have and excuse now to just say, “Why don’t you pick up something at Goodwill and refinish it? We really do not need something from Ethan Allen.” We have everything we need for the guest bedroom upstairs. When she finishes this, she wants to paint and put in an LVT “hardwood-look” floor.

We are deciding (that is the royal “we” because, actually, Lorena does all this kind of deciding) which room to do next. I am hoping it is the upstairs office, but I think she might be leaning toward the upstairs landing/library.

Refinishing projects: The Goodwill desk and the dining room table.

The refinishing desk (and dining room table)The painter is coming to start work this afternoon. Maybe that is what got Lorena inspired to start sanding stuff with her new Walmart sander (she LOVES it). She has the desk fairly close to being ready and from what I see in the bottom left of the image she texted me, it looks like she is getting close to refinishing the dining room table. She just needs to do one more pass with a finer grit and she will be ready to paint.

Kitchen remodel: Semigloss hardwood floor

Retouch of floor -- matte to semi-gloss and defect repairWork inches forward on the remodel. We found some pretty serious defects in the floor, so the floor guy came back, fixed the defects, did something called “refill” and then put a coat of semi-gloss finish. Lorena was ecstatic with the finish. She liked the previous matte, but likes this much better. Next week we hope to have the stove hood in place, glass in the kitchen cabinets, and the painting mostly complete. The hood was planned for this week, so things have stretched out a little.

Room remodel: Buying cheap stuff to refurbish

Green Goodwill nightstand with a dingLorena spent $52.99 yesterday at Goodwill and a thrift store Bob and I stepped into when we first got to Washington a few months back. She bought stuff with an actual purpose:

  • The nightstand in the photo to the right ($24) for our upstairs guest bedroom that now has a really nice Walmart bed. It needs a gouge filled and some paint.
  • A beat up but sturdy desk ($8.99) for the upstairs guest bedroom. It is pretty dinged up and will require some pretty serious elbow grease to get into shape, but Lorena is going to use that as an excuse to get a hand sander. If it looks interesting, we will probably post about it here.
  • Two small (hard to know what to call them) nightstandish kind of thing that has baskets in them ($10 each) for the basement bedroom when we get around to it–probably going to use them as a stopgap organization tool to get the master bedroom closet under control until we can figure something else out. This needs a couple of screws to be tightened or replaced, but other than that, they are good.

We have decided to not try to take on too much at a time after spending the last four months on the kitchen/living room remodels. We have three pretty big interior upgrades: the upstairs, the basement apartment, and the carpet replacement, probably with LVT.  The first step is to finish the upstairs guest bedroom. We have decided we will take them in order and do a little bit at a time as we can afford it. There is also a ton of exterior stuff, but that is another story.

Kitchen remodel: Mark does lots of little things

New hardwood floor vents (the double)

Brazilian cherry floor vent in living roomOur contractor, Mark P. came today and got a lot of finish work done. He looked at a couple of issues with the floor, installed the floor vents, and decided to bring the floor guy back for about a half days work. The floor vents are beautiful. In addition, Mark adjusted all the cabinet doors so they were aligned properly, installed all the cabinet door pulls (but not the drawer pulls), installed the remaining under-cabinet LED lights, installed the missing three overhead lights, and installed the replacement oven door for the one that was broken. I will put up pictures of all that other stuff tomorrow.

The really good news, though, is that he has agreed to help us put a gas fireplace in the kitchen/dining room. We came up with a great plan that he says he should be able to complete before the end of the fall so we will have it this winter. We hope he will be able to draw us a plan, but it is not so complicated, so that may not be necessary. At any rate, we think it will be a great addition to what Mark has already done and we appreciate his willingness to come back here because we know it is a major effort for him to do it.

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.