Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feast your eyes.......

At long last. We are done. And we love it. (Okay so there is one random electrical cord you may see in the photos for lights that have an 8 week lead time.... )

For fun - and for those of you who have not been to my house - here is a before and after. We did an addition so the extra space is not an illusion. We knocked the wall to the dining room down to a 1/2 wall with an eat-in bar so you can see the mountains from the kitchen now. (plus, I just love how I can see outside from every angle!) If you want visual benchmarks, the refrigerator in before/after photos is in the same place. The frosted glass cabinets in the new kitchen are in the same place as the upper cabinets below.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sorry I've not been posting. I'll blame it on part post holiday blahs, and part we had snow nothing could happen for 2 weeks...... but we're past that now. Peter and I have been installing drawer pulls, hanging drawer pulls....it's been tiring.

We had an Inauguration Party last weekend, rousing success. Who could not be celebrating??
Every day since he has been in office has been a success to me.... bye bye Bush.....

Next week - final photos! I promise!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So close....

After the madness that was the Christmas holidays, we make serious progress. Countertops, sink. This weekend the white wall in this photo will be wallpapered. (by us) Tomorrow, we will have water hooked up. A functioning sink, faucets and dishwasher. Every time I think of it my eyes fill with tears. Not having a kitchen sink for 10 weeks really sucks.

The refrigerator in place and the black recycled rubber/cork tiled floor. You can see a few cabinet pulls installed, which we are doing ourselves. ( because, really....) Although I gotta say the precision of placing those things is quite time consuming. We spent perhaps 2 of the worst hours of our marriage working on this last weekend, arguing the best way, questioning each other's methods. We are both feisty people. It was not pretty. In the end we found an acceptable process - which, by the way, I figured out....
The range hood! The cooktops are in place (hard to see as they are flush to the counter..) but not yet functional. I'm so glad we chose the glass one. You can see thru the bottom of it, and it helps to not obstruct the window looking out on a row of beautiful lilac trees. Okay, perhaps not so beautiful right now, but in a few months they will be. Is there anything quite like the scent of lilacs at dusk?

Not to be over enthusiastic, we also found out last week that the cabinet our oven sits in was cut the wrong size....manufacturer's mistake. Next week the oven can be installed. This week, it sits in my living room. ( no our oven is not blue. it's got protective film on it..) And just for fun, here's a shot of my dining room chaos. Better. But still a work zone.

I sincerely hope that next week I will post COMPLETELY DONE photos.
I see no reason why not. There is little left to do, just finishing trim and the hold up of the oven cabinet. Oh, we are so close. This weekend:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Odyssey

Seattle looked like this on the day we left for Xmas with my family in Chicago. Our governor literally was about to declare a state of emergency when we were leaving for the airport.

It's 5am on Christmas eve. It's been snowing for a week and it continues to snow. Our cars had not been driven in 6 days. We live in a hilly city where snow is paralyzing. We have 2 small cars without 4 wheel drive. A cab to the airport was the best option because they are equipped with chains for their tires in snowy weather. And then the nightmare began....

There were no cabs available - the cab company said to call back in a few hours. We couldn't think of a person we would ask to drive us in this horrible weather or at this hour. My husband was all over the internet for weather reports, flight times - called the airline, etc. It seemed like our flight was delayed but still going, it was just a matter of how to get there. So we headed out to catch a bus in a 30 degree snowstorm. It would take 2 buses but both were allegedly running. I asked P to just bear with me and try. I just had to know that I tried as hard as I could to get home. Out we went, dragging our suitcases behind us up 4 blocks of hill to the bus. There we stood in the pre-dawn snow. 30 minutes later, a bus drove right past us while we waved and screamed at the bus stop. I had my first breakdown - knowing that we were barely going to get there and now the chances of making it were slimmer. We were freezing, wet and miserable.

As dawn broke, more people came to the stop. They came and went as no buses arrived. About an hour after we'd gotten there, an SUV drove past with hand written signs in the windows - "Downtown $5". We ran up to her and she said she was full but would come back. We figured if we at least could get downtown we could catch the airport bus or find a cab at a hotel. We contemplated calling it quits. I cried. P comforted. We talked about what our options were. I didn't know what to do and thought somehow perseverance would win. It was Christmas Eve, wasn't it? P went to the coffee shop once it opened and got me some tea. At 7am the woman in the real estate office next to the bus stop let us stand inside to keep warm. She also told us the buses were running every 2 hours. (thanks, bus schedule website....) I couldn't feel my feet, but at least we had hope that a bus would be here in about 20 minutes.

Then the miracle happened. We'd been waiting for just shy of 2 hours. The woman in the SUV came back for us. She said we looked so cold she had to come back. Turns out she drives offroad for sport and knows how to handle her truck on tough terrain. Figured she could make a buck out of the weather. She absolutely peeled down narrow streets full of snow with 2 cars parked on either side. We didn't slide once. As soon as we were in the car, I knew P would convince her to take us all the way to the airport - which he did. We ended up paying her about 1 1/2 times the cab fare, but that was just fine with us. Our SUV saviour is a single mom and said the extra cash would help her with Christmas for her daughter. We hoped she would get people to take back to Seattle once we got to the airport and made her a new sign for the window. A good deal on all sides.

We got to the airport. I held my breath as we looked at the flight departure board. We had 50 minutes left. Our flight had been an hour and 45 minutes delayed. P looked at me and said "You know we are in Christmas miracle territory, don't you?" We would not have made it if the SUV hadn't taken us all the way there. We checked in, got thru security in no time and as we approached the gate it was boarding.

That woman in the SUV who's name we didn't get. She was my Christmas present.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Days

Who likes snow? Kobe likes snow!! He's built for this weather, with his waterproof fur coat. Oh, I just look at that photo and smile.He was absolutely bounding thru the snow today on our walk.

Here's our 'hood these days. Please observe center photo with people on skis. Skis, sleds, tobaggans, innertubes. Our local hills have become slopes for entertainment. Seems like about a foot deep of snow in our yard. The huz' hasn't been to his office since last Wed. I got into work on Thurs and Fri because of my reliable bus - complete with chained tires for the weather. This week I'm on vacation and just slightly happy to not have the internal debate about trying to go anywhere. Until Wed. when we go to Chicago....hoping the airport is back to normal by then.

Today's big event was walking 25 blocks (each way! in snow! too bad it wasn't uphill both ways...) with the dog to do errands, including schlepping a bag of groceries back home. I've been glued to DVD's and cleaning the house otherwise.

The blessing of this snow is that it stops my anal retentive "how can we push the kitchen to be done soonest" drive. I have been really stressed about these last few weeks. First, I truly hate leaving a not quite done remodel to our dear friend who will be house/dog sitting when we are out of town for Xmas. Second, my end of the rope-edness and wanting this stupid thing DONE. As we get to the finish line, I find my type A personality blowing up. Get it done!!! How soon can we be done?? What else can I check off the list?! We must be efficient - who can I call, what can I schedule??

And now - where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket? (my favorite Far Side cartoon ever...) Weather has delayed the guys from coming to work on the house for days. We wonder if our countertops will be installed tomorrow. Or our oven delivered. Or our remaining flooring delivered to the store where I can't possibly drive to pick it up. I did get all "I'm from the midwest.....I can drive in this!" Until I pulled my car out of the driveway and began sliding uncontrollably towards our neighbor's Volvo....and then I decided maybe it wasn't that important to drive...and pulled sheepishly back into the driveway. The very few snow plows in Seattle only hit the main roads. Our street in a hilly neighborhood where many streets are closed will never see a snow plow. I have to let go and just let it be. Kitchen not finished, not finishing, delayed even more. There is nothing I can do. My Type A screams and stomps in the background, yet there is truly nothing I can do about this snow or the road conditions. Being safe is more important than being one day more done. That in itself is an odd relief. I have to just let it be and let go. For now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Almost there.....

I read in a remodeling blog recently that approximately 3/4 through the project is when the homeowner morale is lowest. The last few weeks have been my dark place. I think perhaps banshee is a good word to describe me around the house....I can not wash one more dish in the tub. The dust is making me insane. We are literally 2 weeks from done and I still can't believe this will ever be finished. It seems to eek along at a snails pace. We had snow this week, another delay. Our appliances were delivered but not the oven. The snow comes down outside tonight and I wonder if any work will happen on Monday. I had a dream (nightmare) last night in which they told us we would be still working on this thru February.

We painted last weekend. Here we are getting ready to paint. The color I picked for the kitchen accent walls took 4 coats. I was painting my kitchen on Monday night at 10:30 pm. That was fun. I do love the color, though. It is exactly right. Photo taken at night - color looks better in daylight. It is LIME. In a good way. To the right of the lime will be an accent wall of wallpaper once I get to that in the coming weeks.
This is the upstairs with paint. To the right of the window is our new bathroom - unfinished for the time being. We didn't intend to finish it immediately, and will do so gradually over the coming months. We're actually getting all crazy and trying to do the remaining work ourselves - tile, flooring. Nice to not have chaos outside the bedroom anymore...

Snow continues to Fall tonight in Seattle. They said 4-8 inches in the metro area.. we walked to a local restaurant for dinner. Peter has been unable to get to work for 2 days. I tried to take my car out today to run errands. As soon as I was in our street sliding on ice towards our neighbor's car I decided nothing was urgent. We remain snowbound for the rest of the weekend...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Spirit

I've not had a lot of holiday spirit this year.....the above photo of my dining room might tell you why. People talk about their holiday decorations and my only comment to the conversation is: There is no point in decorating my house this year. See above photo. Do you want to decorate that? Put lights in a window that has boxes stacked in front of it? Half of my driveway is piled with construction debris. Every room has a layer of drywall dust on it. Let's accent that! A girlfriend came over a few weeks ago and just said "Wow. Your house looks like Beiruit."(and yes it does)
Just a few days later, this is outside of my bedroom. It begins to look like a hallway. The door at the end is our new bathroom.
And this. This is the piece de la resistance. I came home one night last week and this was what had transpired. The most beautiful thing I had seen in so long. My eyes literally filled with tears of happiness. Our bamboo cabinets were beginning to be installed. They are stunning. I have a hierarchy of spending in the home. Things you use all the time you spend dough on. Sofa - spend some cash. A bar stool that you sit on for 20 minutes at a crack - inexpensive. I have Target lamps that are cheap yet lovely. Cabinets - these things are the foundation of your kitchen. Good ones will last forever. Crappy ones will not. (was at a friends house a few weeks ago and slid a perhaps 7 year old cabinet drawer to have it semi collapse in my hand....) The slide on ours is like buttah. I have lived in places with crappy kitchens where you struggle to shut a drawer. Not these. They have a "soft close" so about 3 inches from shutting they will shut themselves silently. No slamming will ever happen. As I stood in the kitchen oohing and ahhing the husband yelled - "slide a drawer!!" Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about. And they just look soooooooo pretty. (sustainable, too!)

Oh, but look how I go on and on about my cabinets.....

Although my Christmas spirit is low, a few things happened to me lately that make me feel the spirit of sharing and kindness. I was walking the dog and admiring neighbors gardens a few weeks back. My garden is in serious need of help. I tore ours out last year (hideous. weedy.) and it's just a bit barren now. My dog walk thought was "I wish someone would share some of their plants with me." I turned the corner and literally there was a pile of uprooted plants with a sign "FREE PLANTS". Needless to say I got my car, drove back and took them home. They look so lovely filling in the empty spaces. I plan to leave a thank you note on the doorway of the house that gave them to me. It honestly was just what I needed that day.

The second thing is knowing we have such good friends. Thanksgiving weekend, the huz took a sudden trip back home to be with his family. His mother is not well, she suffered kidney failure a few weeks ago, had surgery, was in the hospital for a week and was put on dialysis. It was important that he be with her - of course. We thought it was the exact time we needed to paint the kitchen and I would be left alone to primer and paint in 2 days. I hate asking for help. It's just how I am. I sheepishly emailed friends for help and had so much help offered in return. It felt so good to know our community was there for us. At the last minute the schedule changed and we couldn't paint that weekend. I was touched by all the support regardless. My mother in law is doing okay, slowly but surely. She had her family there to comfort her, which is more important than anything you can put a price on.

In our last weeks of remodeling, and the negative budget left to cover it, we look for anything we can do ourselves. (there will be action shots of us wallpapering in a few weeks....) Peter has a good friend who is not only a neighbor but an electrical engineer. He can install an oven in his sleep. They have kids, they are busy - we understand they have more obligations than we do. Although, we do have neighborly exchanges. I went to consult on a paint color recently, Peter helped install a banister. We do these things. We're friends. We have wine. They're great people. We told him and his wife that in exchange for appliance installation help we'd pay for a babysitter for an entire day for them. She can go do whatever her heart desires while the boys install a range hood, oven, dishwasher.....They said fine - saving us a ton on paying someone for it. Another good friend to the rescue.

There might be a Santa Claus after all.