The Great Holiday Hurry-Up-And-Get-Things-Done

In that Halloween post I mentioned that drywall was going up in the kitchen.

It was hard, dusty, chickeny work.

Some of you may remember the "nook" area, which used to look like this:

And shortly thereafter, this:

Turns out putting things back together takes longer than bashing them in with a sledgehammer. But now, things are looking up.

We laid the most awesomest tile floor this weekend, despite the fact that both Bren and I came down with the Black Lung on Friday night. And painted all of the walls a light gray (Misty Raindrop or something) except for that dark one, which is blackboard paint. As of tomorrow it will read: "Welcome, Deulens."

I also started a Hall of Fame upstairs.

Guess you'll have to come over to see who all's up there.

And we hung the chandelier in the dining room.

I can't believe how far we've come!

That's all for now. We're BEAT!

Edit: Anne forgot to mention the finished bookshelf, so here it is.

We've worked really well together on all the projects we've done so far, but I did worry just a bit on the kitchen tiles working as a duo. Maybe it was our shared sickness but I thought it might end up like this:

(Art by Al Jaffee.)


Happy Halloween!

Chevy is in disguise. As El Pollo Loco!

In this one, you can see drywall going up in the kitchen! More on that later.

Now, more candy!


Turf War

Remember our post-apocalyptic-looking backyard? Or, more properly, post-ridiculously-expensive-sewer-line-replacement?

Well, Bren tilled, seeded, fertilized, and ever-so-tenderly nurtured it back to life.

There are still some patches that didn't get the memo, but it's worlds better looking. Just in time for the first frost.

In his adventures in watching grass grow, Bren came across a homely little squirrel. He thought he was some kind of mutant squirrel, in fact.

Sunday, I swore all morning that I heard a rustling in/around the heating duct in the basement. Then Chevy started acting all weird and looking up at the ductwork. Bren didn't believe either of us until he came down later in the afternoon...only to find Chevy in a tussle with THE MUTANT! (Bum bum BUMMMMM!)

The best documentation I could manage amid the ensuing chaos was this:

He's behind a paint can in the bookshelves that are currently serving as our "garage" in the basement.

Bren and I eventually shooed him out the back door, after several minutes that might have fit well in a Chevy Chase movie. I thought to myself, "Well, he'll never want to do THAT again."

But yesterday, he seemed to think otherwise.

He peered longingly through our kitchen window. We named him Douglas.

We still don't know how he got in. We're taking bets on Chevy vs. Douglas in the event he tries again, though. The staring contests they engage in through the windows are so intense I keep waiting for a tumbleweed to roll by.

"Do you feel lucky, punk?"


Breaking News: The Swedes are Coming!

IKEA Opening First Colorado Store (Denver Post)

Since they haven't gone through all the red tape for the land yet, and construction takes an estimated 15-18 months, it may be a while. Nevertheless, I'm excited!

In the meantime, we can all take our cues for frugal and fabulous living from my excellent ladyfriends Arwen, Mary, and Carra at Dirt Chic.


Still Life With Pumpkin

The bookshelves are a work of art, though I do say so myself.

Now I get to dive into a pile of...

Books! Chevy is particularly interested in Nabokov and Vonnegut.

FYI, here's how Real Simple magazine (which I love -- thanks, Mom O!) suggests people with a "lot" of books should display them:

I think we're on the right track! Although, if Real Simple calls this a lot of books, my life is more complicated than I thought.


Allow My Shelf to Introduce...My Shelf

Those book shelves are coming along. Of course, when neither wall, floor, nor wood are perfectly straight or level, it's not as easy as it looks. There's some shimming here, some planing there, and a lot of wood filler.

Getting the bottom shelf in was the hardest part.

As of tonight, they look like this:

Pardon our mess. There's something pretty to look at in the living room...

Some bling courtesy of IKEA and CB2. The black things are tealight troughs. Now all we need is a dining table.

I also spent some tedious hours meticulously planning out our kitchen (to the inch) on graph paper. Alas, it's just barely too big for our scanner. Maybe I can do it at work.

Incidentally, work is definitely picking up. Just for fun, I'll leave you with a glimpse of what that looks like:


In the Details

Bren and I came back to town eager to work after Oregon. The problem? A Summer that's shaping up to be Denver's hottest and driest to date. The result? We have turned into sluggish basement-dwellers on an all-popsicle diet.

But we have managed to make some progress despite the heat. First, we put base moulding in the living, dining, and bedrooms:

And register covers. In three places, older and larger holes were covered with odd-sized fixtures that I knew it would be difficult to find. I spray painted them with a metallic paint to match this one, and it actually worked!

In the bedroom, Bren installed a ceiling fan.

We got it on clearance at Home Depot, but the blades were really dark, so I painted them, too.

Incidentally, Bren has begun yanking old wiring out of the attic and replacing it. He's really gotten the hang of it! I'll let him expound, though.

I painted in the hallway between the bedroom and bathroom, and Bren installed a new light fixture (but we saved the original 1920s globe):

I want to cover this hallway in black framed black-and-white photos, so I was looking for a color that would make the pictures stand out and go well with the floors. This one was called "[something] Khaki." I liked the color OK for this purpose, though I normally eschew all things neutral, but I found that I was hesitating because of the name. Khaki...visions of school uniforms and a not-so-flattering Fight Club reference petrified me. Then Bren said that was silly and we bought the stuff.

As it turns out, the color looks more to me like Winnie the Pooh. I don't know what's worse...

In the dining room, the ceiling was the last of my plastering project I needed to finish and paint. It was still showing some ugly texture, but I refused to put up another layer. I hoped a few coats of primer and flat paint would mask it enough, but it was so hot and muggy the paint bubbled up and peeled off of the plaster. So we drywalled the @#%W#&% thing.

Drywalling overhead is ridiculous. But this job is our best so far. Now we've finished and put up double crown moulding:

Nice. I'm excited to start putting up some art. Tomorrow I'll begin work on the built-in bookshelves. 15 boxes of books are roasting in the bonus room.

I think I may have forgotten how to read...


Don't Tread on Me

Subtitle: Piso Mojado.

So goes the saga of our poor floors. We found them under two layers of disgusting carpet.

And a glued-down faux brick entryway.

I tried my hand at making repairs, with limited success. The bedroom closet area, which was a bathroom in the original construction and therefore had never had hardwoods, was incredibly intimidating. In the end, we called in the experts. They did the dusty and stinky work while we were away. Now they look like this:

The bedroom lace-in and finished product:

So cool! Now we can finish the base moulding up here and some final details, and we can start unpacking some stuff and decorating! Very exciting, and just the push we needed to get energized again. The kitchen awaits.

Sometimes a Great Notion

We're back from Oregon! It was great to see friends (Cass and Kevin) and family (the parents O and the grandparents Wolfe), and the festival was way cool. Here's a shot of the outdoor theatre where we saw Comedy of Errors adapted as a musical set in the Wild West (It was better than it sounds):

And Bren in Lithia Park:

That was Ashland. The most wonderful thing in Portland is this:

Voodoo donuts, in the Skidmore district. Famous for bacon maple bars, donuts with shots of Pepto Bismol or NyQuil in the center (to cure what ails you), and other frosting concoctions varying from cereal to candy bars to Kool-Aid mix.

We also visited IKEA, of course, and evidence of our looting will follow. Happily, there is also a Trader Joe's in Portland, and we scored several bottles of Two-Buck Chuck. Other scores included an ancient Shakspeare anthology from a used bookstore and a yellow-pink rose bush (Oregon is famous for its roses).

Overall, a nice vacation. But we're never driving 18 hours in one shot ever again. Oh, and gas? The most we paid was $4.29/gal. Sheesh!


Long Overdue...

It's been a while. Here's what happened. Bren and I sort of killed ourselves trying to get copious amounts of stuff done before a) our year anniversary of homeownership came and went, and b) Grammie came to visit and see the house for the first time.

The year came and went, Grammie came and went. Our last "wind" came and went. We're officially on break until after we get back from our trek to Oregon, but here's the latest scoop:

We put up double crown moulding (not shown) and wainscoting in the master bedroom. I did the wainscoting myself, cutting by hand. It's all finished now, and it looks like it's always been there. This room housed Miles for a few days of late, as he was in between residences, and now serves as Arwen and Brandon's vacation home away from home.

In the bathroom, we're down to the finishing touches:

Now, Bren is not a high-maintenance person, but TP placement is a crucial issue to him. It took some consideration to determine the perfect position.

In the kitchen, we have begun laying the cement board over the subfloor.

Almost ready for tile -- black and white 12X12s. In other kitchen news, we couldn't stand being without an oven anymore. We are cooks, and we miss baking, roasting, broiling, etc. Actually, we miss frozen pizza. So, Bren scored a brand new (if ugly) range on Best Buy's employee auction for $60. It's "biscuit" colored (gag), but by God we had frozen pizza tonight. And it was glorious.

Starting on Thursday, the hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, master bedroom and hallway will be repaired and refinished. We got three quotes, and knew we had the right guy when he walked in, looked at the floor, looked at Bren, and said, "So, what instrument do you play?"

For fun: the quotable quote of the month, courtesy of Adele, Carra and Jesse's beautiful little girl. When Chevy got tired of playing and hid under the table, she said matter-of-factly, "I think there's another happiness kitten upstairs." Incidentally, Chevy is suffering from teen angst and refuses to pose for pictures as "happiness kitten."

Instead, here's Bren:

Kids, this is your brain on Guitar Hero. And yours truly:

In desperate need of vacation. We're off on another nerdy literary adventure as of Saturday. Perhaps we'll still make headway on the house, though -- there's an IKEA in Portland. Shakespeare, bacon donuts and IKEA.

[Angelic choirs]


Mama's in the kitchen (Part Deux)

We are grouting machines. I don't think I have fingerprints anymore on my right hand, but it's done. I always did want to be a spy.

We sealed, too. And installed the tub filler and knobs. And took baths. Real baths. Spa baths.

The bad news is, we're still waiting on that last box of green tile for the shower. And a screw broke off when Bren put in the tub's hot water knob, so we have to order a replacement part. It's always something, but at least we can while away the time making up for lost hygiene.

There are remaining projects we wanted to tackle while we await these deliveries, like installing crown moulding in the bath, dining and bed rooms, but we're dead broke.

But you know what? Demolition is always free. Remember the hardwoods I discovered under two layers of linoleum in the kitchen, then tried in vain to resuscitate? They used to look like this, overgrown with tar paper even after hours of attention:

We've had these unsightly floors covered with paper and a rug for some time. Last night, though, I decided it was time to start prepping the room for tile and drywall. The floor is creaky and it was necessary to check the status of the subfloor, so all that hardwood had to go.

My late-night second wind afforded me a peek. I woke up early this morning and went to town. This is what it looked like by noon:

It's in much better condition than we thought it would be after removing the hardwoods, but still creaky and there's a bit of water damage on the far left, so it looks like we'll continue with our plan to replace it before we lay cement board and tile.

When he wasn't carting my demolition detritus out to the dumpster, Bren was installing the toilet in the bathroom. We're still missing a few components (like a seat), and we don't have a faucet for the sink, so pictures of a complete bathroom will follow soon.

Chevy was pretty confused by the goings-on, and I think he'll be relieved when I leave for work in the morning.

He likes bags. I don't know.