Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grouting Complete!

On Saturday, Feb. 23rd, we finally had a full day to devote to grouting the floor tile on the first floor. We worked a few nights on the effort during the week but Scott came down with a slight cold so our enthusiasm and energy were lacking. We buckled down, kept our noses to the grindstone and shoulders to the wheel, and had the grouting complete in time for dinner.
I didn't take any action shots (who wants to see me crawling around with my tail in the air? not me!) but trust me, the floors look fantastic!

Now - what should we tackle next? The list of "to do" projects doesn't seem to be getting any shorter.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

It is Winter, After All

The weathermen in Omaha were having a hay-day last week. A large storm was predicted to travel from the west coast, taking three days to creep its way eastward before slamming our area with a Major Snow Event. They seemed to take great joy in whipping their viewers into a snow-fearing, grocery-grabbing, hunkering-down-in-the-dark bunch of weenies. Their predictions were right, though. We did get almost nine inches of snow on Thursday/Friday, February 21/22.
But, it's winter. What do you expect? 
No fear, here at noTTafarm. We just got up, got out, cleared the snow, and went to work like normal people.
Our limestone marker was nearly buried by the fluffy, sparkly snow.
Scott and The Ranger did a great job, as usual! 
Their good job with the plow coupled with the beautiful sunshine we had over the weekend created a wonderfully dry and ice-free driveway.
While Scott drove around inside The Ranger's heated cab, I tackled the courtyard with a shovel and my brute strength. If you really want to feel badly for me...I also had to lift the snow by the shovelful up and over the brick wall so that Scott could drive by in his heated cab and scoop it away.
Pretty Winter Scene (that is, until the turkeys started romping around.)
We had a really cool overhang of snow hanging off the dining room window on the south side of the house. It kept growing and growing until it finally collapsed.
Stay Warm & Bundle Up! Spring is Still 24 Days Away.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mid-week Progress Report

Happy Wednesday!
As the Omaha area prepares for Snowmaggedon '13 and many of you will be trapped in your homes by snow and cold, I thought I would entertain you with some noTTafarm news. 

Last weekend, February 16 & 17, we traveled to Kearney for Ward Family Love Fest! Since Christmas '12 was in the middle of the week, it was hard to figure out a time where all 21 of us could be in the same place at the same time. We turned a late Valentine's celebration into a real family party, complete with a gift exchange, too many cookies, and a beer or two. I have to admit, it was nice being away from our little project - even if it was for just a weekend.
The "Original" Ward Family
Tim, Me, Karolyn, Mark
Mom and Dad
Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 18 and 19), we turned our attention back to grouting the floor tile. We made great progress, and completed the dining area! Now we just have the hallway, entry, and pantry left to do which we may actually finish Thursday and Friday evenings. The process has been pretty easy, and Scott even lets me man my own float so I can smoosh grout just like he does. The hardest part is lugging the buckets of water necessary for sponge-rinsing; luckily, I have a strong husband who takes care of that part for me. 
The finished dining area
Late this morning, the Furniture Mart returned with our range! Scott took an extended lunch hour and was here to watch the delivery. The same driver (Shawn) that got stuck in the mud on Friday was on board today but wisely stayed in the upper portion of the driveway. 
"Ta Da!"
The Range is Happy to Be Home with the Hood, the Refrigerator, and the Microwave
These appliances are really going to "pop" when the backsplash is installed. (Stay tuned for that!) And, now that the range is hooked-up, we can cook in the new kitchen - which we did! We had a yummy steak dinner complete with mushrooms, rice pilaf, and green beans. We also started moving some of the canned goods and dishes into the new cabinets.

The Furniture Mart crew also brought along the stacking kit for the washer and dryer. We still need to install a vent for the dryer so we will have to wait to use it but at least we know they fit in the designated closet and they look pretty cool!
After dinner, Scott brought our cherry table and chairs up from the basement, and set them up in the dining area. We've had them in storage since we moved in so it is wonderful to have them available for use again!
Of course, Wilson had to jump up on the table the minute it was put in place. Silly Kitty!

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Appliance Delivery (plus Some Fun in the Mud)

Friday, February 15th was a big day for noTTafarm! I took the day off so we could take delivery of our new washer/dryer, range, and refrigerator. The crew from Nebraska Furniture Mart arrived right on time but I was a little surprised to see them drive the truck on the lower part of the driveway, narrowly clearing the cottonwood branch that hangs low over that section. I was even more excited to see the truck head straight for the dirt near the barn so he could back in to the driveway.  The wheels spinning in the mud was the first sign that something may have gone wrong.
But - being professionals, the three-man crew hopped out of the truck and quickly took the washer upstairs. After some consultation with Scott, they decided to stack the dryer on top of the washer so the hoses and cords and such would work better. The lack of a stacking kit could easily be taken care of but we didn't realize that we had ordered a steam dryer so they're was a little bit of head-scratching about what to do.  
While the washer discussion ensued, two of the delivery guys brought in the range. Scott was relieved to see that it would indeed fit in the space allotted - but his joy was shortlived. The order did not reflect that we needed a propane gas kit rather than a standard natural gas connection. NFM policy dictates that the LP kit be installed at the warehouse...so my beautiful Cafe Range went back on the truck and will return to us next week.
Bringing in the GE Cafe Dual Fuel Range
Unpacked and then Repacked . . . 
With one guy (let's call him Larry) in the house to hook up the refrigerator's ice maker, the other two (one guy is Shawn...the other guy will be called Willie for purposes of this story) headed outside to try and get the truck out of the mud. They tried a variety of things to earn some traction: 
First, Scott dumped two buckets of gravel under the back wheels and Willie did his best to position it. 
Next, Willie used packing blankets wedged behind the wheels. They worked up to a point.
Then, Scott offered a piece of rigid insulation which appeared to work for a moment before the weight of the truck smashed it to smithereens. 
Next, they hooked Scott's Escape to the truck with one of our tow ropes. You wouldn't think this would work but it did - up to a point.
Maybe turning the Escape in a different direction would help? Not really. Finally, Scott had to leave to get to a meeting, so I tried my foot at the Escape gas pedal but I was quickly replaced by Willie as driver. He gunned it and the big truck lurched southward...
...southward right into the low-hanging branch of the cottonwood tree. It made a slight dent in the box of the big truck.
After all the hub-bub, Shawn and Larry carried the dryer upstairs. It will be installed on Wednesday.
The shining star of the day...the new refrigerator! I already transferred all the food but it will take some time to get used to all the bells and whistles.
One last task after a two hour delivery...moving the old fridge into the garage! We are really grown-ups now that we have a Garage Fridge...now, where is that beer?
Have A Great Weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

With Love from noTTafarm

A beautiful sunset greeted us as we arrived home from work Wednesday evening. It was a wonderful expression of nature, and winter, and Nebraska, 
and all that is good in the world.
We hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day with the people you love
in a place as special as ours.
Happy Valentine's Day!
and Happy Birthday to Chris in Kearney

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Grouting Begins at Last!

After another two days of cutting and fitting and mortaring tile, we finally began grouting Sunday after dinner! Yay! Due to the late hour, we have made a modest start, and have about two-thirds of the kitchen area grouted. As I type this, we are waiting the obligatory two hours before performing the final wiping of the glazy hazy grout leftovers that cover the tile.
More of the perimeter tile was measured, cut, and mortared on Saturday and Sunday. The tile pattern stayed true throughout the first floor space.
The east entry is the last hold-out. Scott has to figure out how to handle the area that transitions to the stairs leading to the basement but the rest of the entry floor is done.
What's a blog post without one more picture of Scott laying down a bed of mortar?
Some of the pieces that Scott cut are about an inch wide. Good thing he bought the new tile saw!
No, that's not a loaf of banana bread waiting for the oven . . . it's a small pan of grout, ready to go!
We worked with small batches so that the grout wouldn't dry out before it could get properly smushed into the joints.
After the grout set-up for 15 minutes, it was my job to wipe the excess grout off with a wet sponge. Despite my spiffy new gloves which I thought lent an air of professionalism, I was still constantly reminded of the proper technique. Luckily, I passed the first test and will be allowed to continue.
Looking pretty good! We are happy that the color of the grout matches the tile color pretty closely.
Wilson sauntered past so I forced him to have his picture taken. He is now officially "our" cat and has taken up residence in the guest room. He and Leo are becoming buddies, too! I'm sure Wilson will be featured in a few stories now and then.

OK - time to go wipe off the glaze. Wish me luck! Keep your fingers crossed that the grouting process is much, much faster than the tiling process, too.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Four Weeks In . . . Tiling Continues

You know that 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, when Bill Murray's character wakes up every day to relive the day he lived the day before? How ironic that on Groundhog Day 2013, I woke up to repeat the same set of chores we've faced for the last month. February 2nd was just another day of laying tile at noTTafarm. 
Saturday morning, Carl and Scott worked on tile for the east entry and the pantry. 
The pantry is looking good! 
Just need some grout, some baseboards, some outlet covers, and some shelves.
Scott added an extra layer of mortar in the hallway to even-out an out-of-whack area. It took about an hour until our house guest, Wilson, let his mark. It's just unfortunate that these paw prints will be forever covered by tile.
By Saturday evening, the majority of the entry hall was done.
Sunday afternoon relaxation.
Leo is happiest when he has a patch of concrete to roll around on. Too bad this mortar is not a permanent cat amenity!
When I arrived home from church Sunday, I found Scott under the stairs. He had a ladder propped up from the basement to the landing so he could access this tight spot.
New Day, Same Chores
By 6 PM Sunday, the work effort had moved to the back hallways. Carl and I did prep work while Scott moved from one hallway to the other to place the tile. 

The good news is that we only have about 20 more tiles to put in place. The bad news is we still have about 20 more tiles to put in place.  
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!*
(*It will probably involve tile.)