Monday, March 31, 2014

Bedroom Blues

When I asked Doug on Friday night how he would feel about me painting the bedroom on Saturday, I got "the look."

Doug is a DIY-er with the best of them, but he is never on board with change for its own sake.

I am....

When we bought our little house in Newark almost 8 years ago, the previous owner had just had all of the rooms painted.

For the most part, I liked her choices... except for the master bedroom (and I use that term loosely--in the 1930s they didn't build master bedrooms in houses like ours.  Yes, one of our two bedrooms is slightly larger than the other one, but it's still only about 10 x 11).

Anyway, that room was painted a kind of purply chocolate brown, which just made it seem cave-like.  We lived with it for two years, and then I couldn't stand it anymore.  I chose a blue kind of like faded denim jeans and repainted the room.

But after five years, I realized that the blue was just too blue to be neutral, and it really limited my ability to change the look of the room by changing the bedding (and I don't have a prayer of changing the look by moving the furniture--you don't rearrange the furniture in a 10x11 bedroom because there's only one way it fits...and barely at that).

So on Saturday morning, I went to Sherwin Williams in search of a nice grey.

Hmmm.  Do you know how many greys there are? Some are bluish, some greenish, some khaki-ish.  I finally chose one that looked grey next to the pale blues but is actually bluish after all--kind of like sea glass.

Here's the room on Saturday morning after I took down the pictures and before I painted. We had to just work around the furniture:

And here's that same corner with the new color on the walls and everything back in place:

With Sherwin Williams paint running $45 a gallon WITH my coupon, I was determined to get by with one gallon.  So we opted not to paint the heat registers (one is behind the bed anyway, and the one in this picture is my version of an accent wall):

There's a story behind the curtains too.

The painting took only a few hours because we were doing only the walls, not the ceiling or trim.

So at about 2:00, with the bed remade, the pictures rehung, and the mess cleaned up, kittens called to us.

Our favorite antique store, Brandywine View in Chadds Ford, Pa., had been posting pix on Facebook of a stray cat they had taken in.  Last week, they discovered that she had kittens in a box on their porch.

I can't resist kittens, so off we went. (No, I wasn't going to bring one home, but it was a good excuse to go there on a rainy Saturday afternoon.)

How cute are these two little dudes?

While we were there, I sorted through a pile of grain sacks and decided I could make curtains out of them for the bedroom.  It's hard to get good pix in this room because of the light and the size of the room, but I'm happy with how they turned out. We open our windows from the top down for air, so I use just short cafe curtains on the bottom half of both windows for privacy:

Now that it's all done, Doug admits that he likes the new color.

He just hates change.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fair Vanity

Warning: This is a long post because yesterday was a long day.  But it has a happy ending.

When we bought our beach cottage almost 2 years ago, it would have been hard to pick the most disgusting thing about the place because it was ALL disgusting, but the bathroom ranked right up there with the kitchen for the top spot in the list.  The toilet was stained, the tub had been painted with latex paint, and the vanity--made of particle board and plastic--was falling apart.  And of course everything was filthy.

It turned out the toilet just needed a good cleaning, I'm still peeling paint out of the tub, and I was able to pull up the linoleum and paint the subfloor with porch paint.

As for the vanity, instead of a compartment with a door, it had two falling-out half drawers, which we removed.  I painted the front of it, strung a little curtain across the opening and called it finished.


A few months after we bought the place, we spotted a bathroom sink--a real one, not a cheap plastic one--on the side of the road.  We stopped and picked it up, and it's been calling to us ever since.

Since we were waiting for our kind neighbor to finish redoing our water system from the street to the house, our plan for this weekend was to build a new vanity here at home on Saturday and have it ready to take down to the beach place when the water was hooked up.

Then, on Friday night, our neighbor emailed us and said the water was done!

We decided to stick with our original plan to build the vanity here (where all of Doug's tools are) and then, if we had enough time left, take it down to Kitts Hummock.  We modified our original plan slightly -- I would paint it down at the beach house rather than here, so that we could get going as soon as the piece was together. Doug warned me that there might not be time to actually install it.

Doug hauled out his scrap wood, some new birch plywood, and an old solid-core door that he had rescued from an on-campus renovation several years ago.

He got to work.  I'm the assistant--kind of like the OR nurse who hands over implements when needed.

By 11:30, we had this, and we loaded Jodie and some tools into the car and headed for Kitts Hummock.

When we got there, I started painting. I knew I had to get it done quickly, or we wouldn't be able to move the finished piece into the bathroom.  It was windy, which was good news and bad news. Good, because it meant the paint would dry quickly, bad because it meant that paint was blowing all over the place, including on my poor dog.  I donned a pair of plastic bags--one each from Lowes and Home Depot--over my Uggs to keep them clean, and of course Doug had to take a picture:

That was the end of the laughs for several hours.  

While I was painting, Doug turned on the water to the house and discovered that a piece of PEX under the kitchen sink had burst, so we had yet another leak to fix. Luckily, we had extra PEX, and Doug had brought the PEX kit so he was able to fix the leak pretty quickly.

More cursing followed.

It turned out that the kitchen faucet, which we had just installed last year, was leaking.  The unbelievable cold we have experienced this winter was hard on the equipment, and Doug was pretty frustrated at this point.

He turned his attention back to the bathroom.  Out came the old vanity. Here it is in all its glory out in the yard. The only part that didn't look too bad was the part that I had painted when we first cleaned up the bathroom:

But the sink was a hideous yellowed plastic:

The particle board was falling apart:

And the bottom was lined with this lovely contact paper:

Fittingly enough, the whole thing broke apart when Doug put it in the car to take it home for the trash.

The new one went in great, although Doug had to make the 20-mile round trip to Lowes for an extender for the trap.

We also had a few scary moments when we got ready to carry the new one in (it was actually a few worried hours).

While the new vanity was still sitting in our garage at home, Doug had noticed that it looked kind of big, but he brushed off his concerns because he knew he had measured multiple times.

But then all of a sudden, I had an awful thought. We might not even be able to get it INTO the bathroom because the trailer hallway is so narrow. We sweated out those thoughts the whole way down.


We had to open the closet door to add some wiggle room in the hall, and we had to pull off the shoe molding in the bathroom to get it to wedge into the space between the wall and the tub.

23 1/2 inches.

24 and it wouldn't have made it.

But we got it in and hooked up, and it looks great. We bought a tension rod and used the same curtain that I had originally tied onto the old vanity using string and screws, and it fit perfectly.

Although the sink we found had a faucet with it, we ended up getting a new one at Home Depot because there were some issues with the drain on the one we found.  I like the one Doug picked out with the hot and cold handles:

Now, we actually have room for a hand soap dispenser:

And for this beautiful fish soap dish that my friend Jenn brought back for me after she and Martin spent January in Florida:

Total cost of the vanity project was about $55 ($15 for wood, $32 for the faucet, and $5 for half a can of primer).  I used a coupon to get a free sample pot of paint from Lowes (Belle Grove sorbet, which came pretty close to matching the Sherwin Williams sea salt on the walls).

While he was Lowe's, Doug bought another kitchen faucet, and he actually managed to get that installed as well.

When we left to come home at 5:30 yesterday, we were pretty sure we had actually solved all of our water problems. But we're almost afraid to give Martin back his PEX kit. That might just jinx everything.

Since this is a beach house post, I had to add a picture from the quick trip I made to the beach with Jodie:

We're hoping that the next trip down is more beach and less B.S.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Green Weekend

Spring came to Delaware this weekend, and we had an awesome two days.

On Saturday, we headed to Kitts Hummock so that Doug could do his part of the plumbing work.

His Saturday wasn't quite as much fun as mine, as he spent part of it under the trailer rolling around in the dirt. I didn't take a picture, but let's just say that he was so dirty, I made him change his clothes on the screened porch.

Jodie and I, on the other hand, had a great time at the beach.

It was magnificent.  The tide was in, the snow was gone, and the sun was shining.  It was a really windy day, but because the wind was coming from the west, it was actually warmer at the beach than back at the house.

Jodie had a great time running around and sniffing. Thankfully, she didn't eat any bad stuff this time.

After the beach walk, I cleaned our little cottage, although without water, there was a limit to what I could do.  The porch awaits buckets of warm water and soap before I can set the furniture up for the season, but the inside of the house is vacuumed and dusted.

Back at home on Sunday, we participated in the local Shamrock and Roll 5K, which raised money for MS.  Doug is relatively new to the 5K circuit, but he won a medal for being the second-place male walker to finish. I've been running for years but have backed off racing in recent years.

While we were waiting for the start gun to go off, I ran into an old friend who told me that he recently ran a 5K with his 10-year-old grandson. The kid finished in 22 minutes.

"Remember when we ran that fast?" I said to my friend.

"Yeah," he replied.  "It wasn't that long ago."

Yesterday, my friend and I had to be content with finishes in the mid-25s.  But the advantage of getting older in road racing is that everything is age-group-based, so we're still winning. He took first in the male 70 and over group, while I won the female 60-69 class.

Doug took off his number before the awards ceremony, but here we are afterwards with our medals:

St. Patty's Day races always draw out the characters like people in green wigs and this guy in a kilt and matching hat:

In addition to my medal, I got a $10 coupon for Greene Turtle, which is right in our neighborhood. I see a cheap lunch or dinner in our future. Doug and I also now have green T-shirts to wear in next year's shamrock event.

To continue the theme, Doug made rye bread, corned beef, and potatoes last night:

It was a great weekend.


Not so great. We just got three more inches of snow to take the place of the grey mess that had finally melted.

Thursday is the first real day of spring.

PLEASE let this be the last of the white stuff.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Snow on the Beach

This has been an awful winter for most of us in the U.S., and Delaware is no exception.  But it wasn't just the cold and snow that kept us away from our little cottage by the bay, although the cold was responsible in the long run.

When Doug redid our plumbing last year, he replaced everything but the main valve to the house, and we kept a small heater under the sink to keep everything from freezing when we weren't there.  Under normal circumstances, that heater would have been enough.

In 2014, it wasn't.  Several weeks ago, we came down on a whim just to check things and found a light mist emerging from under the sink onto the laminate floor that we installed last spring.  The copper had frozen and swelled causing a leak.

It wasn't enough water to cause a flood, but it was enough to make a mess. We quickly got the local water guy to turn our water off at the street. We then mopped up and closed the house for the rest of the winter.


Well, we still don't have water because we need the weather to break before we can get all of the inside and outside work done, but yesterday, we packed up Jodie and headed down to just enjoy the 55-degree day.

We always worry that our little house is going to undergo some awful disaster while we're gone for weeks at a time, but everything was fine.

We took Jodie out on the beach, which I had never seen with snow on it. She was so excited, we couldn't slow her down enough for a close-up picture and she blends right into the sand from a distance:

I was pretty happy too:

After the walk, we caught up with Dick, the water man, and made a plan for fixing everything within the next few weeks.  Dick also agreed to come haul away the mountain of junk in our backyard--old lattice, construction waste, branches etc.... We have some awesome neighbors down there.

Then Doug and I had an inside picnic with food from our favorite convenience store--Wawa. It brought back fond memories because that's what we ate when we were working on the house and had no water AND, for that matter, no kitchen.

After lunch, we headed out for one of our favorite places--Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge.

As a photographer, Doug is always looking for wildlife to capture with camera and his big lenses, but I just enjoy the scenery.

Twelve days until spring....