31 October 2012

A Week Of Change...

Maple in Autumn
October is quickly waning and November fast upon us.  The last of the leaves have turned golden and russet on the maple tree.  So beautiful!

Red Breasted Nuthatch
I put the first bird-feeder up at my new home ~ and the first visitors are a pair of red-breasted nuthatches!  So fun to watch them hard at work gathering seed!

While the season changes, things around the new house have been changing too.

Tree Removal
The day the big cottonwood trees were scheduled to come down, we had our first snow of the season ~ about 4-6 inches, which delayed it a day.  But the following day, the crew was there bright and early.  It looked like they took small chunks of the branches off at a time, but when I measure this falling piece on the ground later, it was two feet long and over a foot in diameter!

Taking down the big trunk on the cottonwood
Eventually, the enormous trunk was all that was left.  The crew teased me about all the photos I was taking, but also made sure that I got some good shots!

tree removal ~ huge timbers
The pile of logs was enormous ~ almost as big as the house!  It's sobering to think about what would have happened should this tree have come down in a storm ~ and really puts into perspective all the terrible damage on the east coast from Hurricane Sandy.  My heart goes out to all who are dealing with the aftermath of damage.

grinding the stumps out
Once the trees were down and mostly removed from the yard, they came in with big grinders and chipped away the bulk of the root ball.    In all, they hauled away 5 enormous truck loads of logs, and 2 to 3 of shredded branches and another 2 to 3 of the root chippings.  A friend thought I should have kept the wood for firewood ~ but the logs were SO large, it would have taken an arsenal of equipment to cut it up into usable pieces ~ that I would have to wait over a year to use.  I opted to only keep one "smallish" piece for a project my daughter and I want to work on ~ once we get settled and and all the other work done!

Trees removed
The house and yard feel enormously open and bare now.  But sunlight streams in through the windows, which I'll love this winter, though I may not be quite so fond of it come summer.  In the spring, I'll plant new trees ~ some apple trees along the path, a nice spreading oak on the corner of the lot and maybe a couple of lindens.  In the meantime, I've planted daffodils in the freshly dirt filled spots!

Starting the tile removal
Inside, we've been working hard!  Jessie couldn't wait to get the ugly tile up (it looks far better in the photos than it did in person) and she did a great job of removing all of it!

taking out the counters
DIL Amanda had great fun taking out the countertops!

teamwork!
The whole family has been involved in one way or another!  It's been a real team effort!  I am SO grateful for all their help!  And it turns out I need it more than anticipated as I developed a sudden blurry spot in my eye, the result of a large floater putting pressure on the retina right in front of the optic nerve.  So I have been put on lifting restrictions to prevent a tear of the retina.  Now that's a kind of "fun" that I could do without!  Especially the week before we move in!

countertop layers
The kids got all three layers of the countertop off and all the metal cabinets removed!

There's wood under there!
Underneath the cabinets, we got a look at the great wood flooring beneath!  I think it's fir, though I'll rely on the floor guy to give me a more definite identification.

Scary wiring
We also uncovered some scary things ~ such as this wiring, which needless to say was NOT to code!  When I bought the house, I suspected wiring issues and one of my very first calls was to an electrician about replacing all the wiring in the house.  They are about halfway done already!

Why the plumbing is being redone
But what I hadn't anticipated was having to replace all the plumbing.  I thought we could just upgrade a couple of things such as the hot water heater and some valves, but after looking at lines like this with practically no water able to flow through (and filled with black goo that I don't even want to think about), it was an easy decision to redo the plumbing while we had things torn apart for the electrical too.

Plumbing pipe
So instead of gross galvanized gooey pipe, I'm now have technicolor modern pipes in red and blue!  And you know what?  The water tastes and smells so much better!!!

taking up the tile underlayment
With the tile up, the cabinets gone, scary wiring disconnected and plumbing capped, we set about removing the underlayment over the wood floor.  It was a dusty messy job.  My soon to be SIL David has spent days getting really dirty while helping clean out crawl spaces and chisel up mortar so we could find the screws holding the underlayment down.  I'm bent over in my typical work pose (before the eye Dr. told me I couldn't do this anymore).

kitchen gutted
We ended the weekend with a fully gutted kitchen, covered in sticky notes for the plumber (blue) and the electrician (red) so they would remember everything I wanted done!  The floor was painted black and then later sanded somewhat, so refinishing them should actually turn out to be ok!  Can't wait to get to the point where it's time for that to happen!   Right now, the plumber and electrician have gotten nearly all their work done in here and I'll be able to start patching walls and next week, after we move in (yikes!)  I'll be able to focus on getting the walls skim-coated and painted.  The new cabinets arrive in a little over a week and hopefully will get installed right around Thanksgiving!

Yellow Jacket nest
We did have a little bit of nature excitement when the electrician discovered not one, but two enormous yellow jacket nests in the attic of the garage!  This big one had to be cut away from around the rafters.  The exterior patterns of the paper are fascinating ~ like paper shells overlapping one another.

inside the nest
Here I've shown it with a large glove to show the scale of how big these were.  The other one was so entwined in rafters that it was mostly demolished in the removal.   I must admit that I am greatly relieved to have them gone!

pillars and layers
It was fascinating to get a good look at the layered structure of the inside.  All the little support posts that hold the layers apart and the perfectly formed paper honeycomb layers.  Just amazing!  We learned from the pest control guy (who was promptly called upon the discovery of them!) that yellow-jackets only use a nest like this once and then make a new one the following year.  I hate to think about how many it must have taken to build a nest this size, but you can be assured, that I will be sealing up the garage attic to prevent any more such nests from being built!

My Piano is home again!
The week also saw the arrival of my piano!  Dear friends have kindly been storing it for me in their living room for the past 8 years!  How glad I am to have it back again!  It's badly out of tune and needs a little TLC, but the piano tuner will be here next week along with my music!  Can't wait to start playing again!

Things will stay super busy this coming week. This weekend, my daughter and I move out of my oldest son's townhome and into our new home (sans kitchen for a while).  I have a job interview on Monday (here's hoping and praying that I have the mix of skills they are looking for!)  We'll have a visit from the chimney sweep, finish the electrical rewiring, vote, have the piano tuned, have a visit from the kitchen installer, get the basement walls and ceiling patched by the drywall guy, while I prep and finish the kitchen walls and prepare to paint, make another trip to the eye Dr. to make sure my eye is staying healthy, plant more daffodil bulbs, prepare for delivery of the kitchen cabinets and attend a luncheon welcoming me back to Colorado put on by the ladies that I used to teach childbirth classes with!  I'm tired already, but eager for the coming week at the same time!  

As I sit here on All Hallows Eve writing this, a night that is said by many to be a time to honor the spirits of the saints who've departed from us, it seems fitting to have been thinking about this past year and all that has taken place.  Despite the sorrow and difficulty of losing both my parents within a ten month span of time, it's been an amazing year with a lifetime dream trip come true, moving back to Colorado to be near my family and purchasing my sweet little cottage.  The grief still catches me off guard at times, and especially with all the changes taking place.  So many times, I've wanted to pick up the phone and tell my Mom all about what's happening.  Though I cannot do that, I know how pleased she and my Dad would be with all of it.  The legacy of faith that came down through my parents gives me strength and courage to move on through that grief when it comes.  And as a result, though this has probably been the most difficult year of my life in so many respects, it has also been one of the most blessed years I've ever experienced.  A fitting tribute to my parents that it can be so.

22 October 2012

Progress ~ Slow but Sure

gold coin leaves
The Juncos arrived today.  My mother always said that they were the best indicators of winter as they don't show up until it comes and when they leave, it's over.  Sure enough, when I checked the forecast, there is snow expected in a couple of days!  In the meanwhile, I'm enjoying the last of autumn.  My new home is surrounded by aspen trees and the ground is littered with their gold coin like leaves.

Autumn in my Front Yard
There are also many Burning Bush shrubs filled with brilliant color.  But the leaves are falling quickly!

Glass Doorknobs
Inside, there is much going on, from the cleaning of the glass and brass doorknobs,

New Table and Chairs
to the arrival of my new table and chairs!  For years I've longed for a table large enough to seat my entire family and this one will seat all of us with room for a few extras!  Right now I have it set up in the living room as the dining room seems to have become the staging area for all the work taking place.

Which Door to choose?
We made the decision to go ahead with the kitchen remodel right away ~ which results in the need for many more decisions, like which cabinet door to choose!  I'm leaning towards the one on the left while my daughter likes the one on the right.

What's hiding under the tile...
We pulled off part of a broken floor tile to see what was underneath ~ it looks like wood!  Though it may have been painted black or have old blackened varnish or some type of glue from another type of flooring.  Can't wait to get the rest of the tile up to see what kind of shape it's in.  Hoping for something that can be refinished!

closet painting
Though I've been cleaning and doing lots of little things to the house, it didn't really start to feel like mine until I put some paint on the walls of my bedroom closet!  I'm keeping the vintage wallpaper, but needed to freshen up the dingy dirty paint above it.  The green trim had to go too as it just didn't go with the wallpaper.  One of these days I'll repaint the trim with a better green that goes with the leaves in the design, but for now, I just needed fresh and clean!

layers of paint
Every single furnace vent (and every electrical outlet and switch) is covered in multiple layers of paint.  It was a heck of a job simply to get the screws removed so we could get them off the wall.  This is my attempt at stripping what is at least 4 to 5 layers of paint.  It took me half a day.   The next day I went back to the home improvement store and purchased new ones to replace them!  The vent in my daughter's room had at least 7 layers of paint including a scarlet red layer!

Hints of old Wallpaper
In some rooms, when the vent came off, we found evidence of old wallpaper.  I can't imagine living in a house with wallpaper this color of green!

DSC04857
But the biggest surprise came when we finally got the return air vents off.  This doesn't qualify as a "dust bunny".  I think it's more like a "dust rat"!  YUCK!!!  Good thing the duct cleaners will be here in a couple of days!

Antique Crazy Quilt
I did get to spend a little more time browsing an antique mall one morning while looking for light fixtures.  I fell in love with this beautiful crazy quilt with all sorts of textured velvets in lovely deep colors.  It was well out of my price range, so I had to content myself with some photos of the unusual stitching.

Antique Crazy Quilt Stitches
At first glance, it looks like feather stitching, but upon close examination, it turns out to be some other type of wrapped stitch.  This was such a gorgeous quilt and I loved the weight of it.  It was so tactile that it made you want to just curl up in it.  It would have been gorgeous draped over the back of my sofa in the fall and winter!



14 October 2012

Kitchen Remodel - Phase 1

View of the house from the driveway
What a weekend it has been!  This delightful house belongs to me now!  A dream come true!  Oh, how many ideas I have for it!  Built in 1941, it has sound bones though it could use a little TLC.  This little cottage home fulfills the vast majority of the items that I had on my "Forever Home Wish List"!

Basement bedroom
For a while, there won't be a lot of stitching on this blog as I focus on getting a few areas remodeled and get settled in.  Eventually, this room will be the sewing room for both my daughter and I!  Can't wait to get it fixed up!

Workmen Present
In the meantime, there have been lots of workmen at the house.  The house was vacant for a period of time, so there were lots of little things to deal with right away ~ like far too many spiders and crickets...

Workmen
and a phone line that no longer connected to the house.  There were also doors that didn't lock properly, light fixtures filled with dead moths and bulbs burned out all throughout the house.  All fixed now!

Boxes and a Sweet little Friend!
I've had a cute little helper during this time.  Skip is a dear friends little dog who has been keeping me company while his people are out of town for a few days!  He's a sweetheart, though a little bewildered by all the goings on!   When we did the walk through of the house Friday morning before closing, these boxes were already waiting for me!  Delivered several days early despite my request for delivery this coming week!

New Chairs
Inside those boxes were my new dining room chairs!  The cushions are coming later this week.

The built in cabinet
It has been a busy three days with the long list of things to do!  One of my accomplishments was to get the china cabinet all cleaned up and new shelf lining in place.  So glad to get rid of the awful sticky dirty contact paper that was on the shelves!  I had to fix some hinges - some were on upside down ~ so the hinge-pins fell out and the doors wouldn't open properly, as well as the doorknobs, which were on screws that were over an inch too long ~ so the when you pulled on the knob, it pulled out of the door!  The brass outlet plate was covered in thick layers of yellow and green paint.  It's all shiny again!  The tile counter also needed a deep clean ~ very grimy.  Eventually, the tile counter and back splash will be replaced with a painted wood counter to match the cabinets ~ probably when the main kitchen remodeling takes place.  But for now, it's nice and clean and ready for me to fill with dishes!

Beginning the Demolition
The first phase of kitchen remodel is underway!  This part is fairly simple, just removing the upper cabinets.

Kitchen Demo phase 1
How great it was to have help from my son's Zach and Jonathan!  They did a great job of getting the cabinets down neatly!

Kitchen after phase 1 demo
Having the cabinets down makes the kitchen feel so much more open.  Eventually this wall will have open shelves on it.   Until the electrician moves (removes?) the wires, I won't be able to do much to this wall, other than patch a few holes and maybe a light coat of paint to make it livable until the big remodel which is at least a couple months away.  It's so exciting to see it starting to take shape already!

The next few weeks are filled to the brim with all sorts of activity from more kitchen cabinet removal, closet remodeling, duct cleaning, chimney sweeping, tree removal (sadly, both of the huge trees in the front yard need to come down as they dying and starting to lose large limbs ~ must be taken down safely before they crash through the roof!), electricians and plumbers, piano moving and tuning, delivery of more furniture (a dining room table!), more cleaning and then... finally... moving in!

09 October 2012

Knitting and Planning

New Mittens!
In between all the other things taking place, I was able to finish the pair of mittens I've been knitting!  I had a very similar pair when I was growing up that my Mom had knit of blue acrylic yarn.  Pretty sure that I wore them out!  This pair is knit with a double strand of wool from Brown Sheep Company on size 10 1/2 needles.  The pattern is a vintage one that I found here.  They are soft and warm and ever so cozy!  They still need blocked but I'm wonderfully happy with them even as they are!

Kitchen view towards Garage door
Much of my time has been taken up deciding what to do with this kitchen.  The old cabinets are outdated metal ones, probably dating back to the time when the house was built in 1941.  Covered with layers of paint and inside, layers of yucky contact paper, they leave a lot to be desired!  I've got a vision of what it could be.  I've been dreaming of kitchens for years, and so when I saw the lovely kitchen at "A Country Farmhouse" that matched my dreams, I bookmarked it and have been an avid follower of Trina for some time.  Now that I have a kitchen of my own to redo, I am using her kitchen as a tremendous inspiration!

Kitchen planning
But even with lovely inspiration, it takes a lot of work to make it happen in a different space.  So I've been sketching and making trips to the kitchen designer and reworking ideas, over and over again!

Kitchen sketches
But I think I finally have the basics right and now it's just a matter of small tweaking, getting the right cabinets and fixtures chosen and finding the right contractor to do the job.   My sketches make the space look much bigger than it really is and all the walls are not shown.  I find it helps me to work out the space by drawing it out like this.  I love the open feeling it will have and the more European look of it.  All in white with wood counters and a wood floor (which we think is lurking underneath the tile!)

On top of all of this, I'm still job hunting (with another interview scheduled for tomorrow!) and preparing to move in a just a couple of weeks!  Plus getting contractors scheduled to do things on the house in the meantime!  Needless to say, things are BUSY here but it is also very exciting to see it all coming together!  So much to be thankful for right now!

02 October 2012

Busy Week!

I forgot how busy things can get when buying a new house.  So many things to do and think about!  Here are a few snapshots from my week as I prepare for my new home!
Beautiful Embroidery
I headed toward an Antique Mall to see if I could find a better dining room light than what I was seeing in the stores.  Needless to say, I got sidetracked when I found this gorgeous bit of embroidery on a circa 1900 shirtwaist!

Violet Dishes
And I fell in love with this lovely set of violet plates!  10 dessert and sandwich plates each and an assortment of other lovely pieces ~ oh how I'd love to add them to my china collection ~ but I was strong and left them for someone else.  I already have "several" sets of china, most of which have been packed away in storage for the past 8 years, so I certainly don't need any more!

Strawberry Pincushions
Every time I go to this particular Antique Mall, I have to stop and look at the vintage sewing tools in this booth. I just adore these big old velvet strawberry pincushions, but they are a bit beyond my  budget.  Sure wish they made nice velveteens like this nowadays so I could make my own!

With his new vehicle
It was good to be able to help my youngest son as he made his first ever car purchase!  He worked hard to make it happen and it makes my Mother's heart proud to see him achieve his goals!  

Checking out the Knitting
There was a bit of time for some knitting ~ and of course it had to be inspected by the kitties!

Bath Rugs
I debated purchasing new a new bathroom rug for the new house ~ but decided that the bathroom rugs I have are in great shape, so saved myself some money!  But I do love that dusty aqua color!

Bathroom Light Fixtures
I've looked at endless light fixtures.  This one might do for the bathroom when the time comes to do some updating.  For the moment it will wait as there are more important areas to update ~ like the kitchen!  I've looked at stoves and dishwashers and kitchen cabinets till I see them in my sleep!

Vintage Closet
I've been debating the joy of this vintage closet which has loads of charm if not much space!  At a mere two feet wide and seven feet long with only a small door towards one end (and no room to enlarge it if I want to have a dresser in this room), it will be a challenge to fit my clothes in here!  I'm thinking of adding shelves at this end and putting a double rod at the opposite end.  My dresses and coats will have to hang in the entry way coat closet.  It will be incentive to keep my wardrobe pared down to just what I really need and use!

Flagstone Terrace
With two inspections needed, I got to spend lots of time at the house this past week.  I love the front terrace and patio of the house and am excited that it appears to have lots of bulbs planted around the base of the tree!  Can't wait to see what spring will bring!  There are so many decisions to be made as I prepare to move in in just a few weeks time!

Cross in Boulder
On Sunday, I attended the Boulder Bach Festival's opening concert of the season at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder.  It's a wonderful building with features that I love, including this cross on the roof.  One of the things I enjoyed so much on my trip to England was the music in the cathedrals, and I realized I needed to make more effort to include music more regularly in my life at here.  I wasn't disappointed ~ the music was fabulous!  I look forward to many more musical events throughout the year!

Sunset in Colorado
When I wasn't living in Colorado, one of things I really missed seeing was the beautiful sky here and the fabulous sunsets.   What a joy to be able to enjoy skies like this on a daily basis!

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