Sunday, April 28, 2013

And a Little Work Got Done . . .

With all the sunshine and visitors and what-not, it was hard to concentrate on indoor tasks. But with our new and really-final-this-time mortgage deadline of May 23rd looming, we have to get our buns in gear. Friday after work, I finished up all the poly-coating on the second floor wood trim. Yay! Scott spent time cleaning and spraying lacquer on the steel that will be used first in the powder room, and later in the stairwell. (Stay tuned for those details.) Sunday afternoon, I took the bull by the horns, finishing the demolition of the old kitchen while Scott worked in the powder room. He let me use his little sledgehammer so the work was noisy but pretty quick. The sink remains to be dealt with but the rest of the space is now a blank slate for our soon-to-be home office.

Stay Tuned for More Progress!

Allie Comes to Visit!

Our adorable great niece, Allie, stopped by late Saturday afternoon after a trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo. Of course, she brought along her parents Nick and Brooke. While Scott grilled hamburgers for supper, Allie had a lot of fun playing with Leo and Wilson.
Wilson is so docile, he didn't seem to mind having an almost-two-year-old hanging around.
Leo was a bit more illusive, admiring Allie from a distance. She was undeterred, and had her daddy lift her up for a better view. Side note: I've promised Allie that the next time she visits, this staircase will be done. Let's keep our fingers crossed!
We really enjoyed spending time with Nick, Brooke and Allie!
We Love Visitors!

New Fire Ring Up and Running!

Since the weather was soooo nice Saturday, we just couldn't resist spending a little time outside. We escaped from our regular routine of new construction, and headed outdoors to set up the fire ring. Prior to the beginning of construction last June, the fire ring had been located north of the house. We selected a new site west of the great room.
It's sort of a long story...but when steel was ordered for the deck outside the master bedroom, two corner pieces were made incorrectly. Scott suggested that the two 50-pound solid steel pieces form the center ring of the new fire pit.
The Ranger toted the cinder blocks from their storage pile. I helped Scott load them up by offering moral support and taking photos. (Those things are heavy!)
Scott laid the blocks in a circle about three free out from the steel fire box.
Voila! Just like that, the fire pit was in action! The large brush pile in the background was created by clearing trees for new construction. It's just one of many that need to be eliminated so I'm sure the new fire ring will come in handy.
S'mores Anyone?

Friday, April 26, 2013

A "Harrowing" Experience!

Calm down, Readers. There's nothing scary afoot. Scott bought a harrow today!

Specifically, he bought a "Loyal Multi-Use Harrow" from our local TSC. He chose to make the investment so he can more easily ready the yard for seed and keep the gravel in line on the driveway. Check it out!
First, a little assembly. 
This model is "ideal for hobby farms" and was made to tow behind an ATV like our Ranger. It is really compact but has 5-inch long cold-formed high-carbon steel tines that easily dig into the soil.
Hooked Up and Ready to Go!
After a harsh year of drought and construction, we have quite a bit of dirt to convert to lawn space. The harrow will really help get the lawn going!

Bonus! The tines pick up sticks!
The Ranger and harrow made quick work of tilling the barren ground. Scott took several passes all around the property, and finished up by running up and down the driveway to push the gravel back where it belongs. 

It's nice to have the harrow join the noTTafarm Tool Team!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Spring is for Kitties

Thursday after work, the Leo and Wilson were chompin' at the bit to go outside and enjoy the spring weather. It was windy but they made the best of it, spending about a half hour outdoors before reporting back to the great room patio door. This was Wilson's first venture outside, and he was very cautious.  Good kitty!
"Ahhhh! Spring Has Sprung!"
Bibbers was on patrol, as usual. He had a nice chat with Wilson, and they've reached an understanding. (That is, Bibbers is in charge and the rest of you "house cats" tow the line or get the heck back inside.)

Wilson and Leo went outside Friday evening, also. Leo reported back to the front door promptly but Scott had to hunt Wilson down in the corn crib. He had rolled around in the dirt somewhere and was absolutely filthy! I had to rub him down with a wash cloth - which, you may be surprised to read, he did not enjoy.

C'mon Over and See the Kitties!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

When The Cat's Away...The Mouse Gets Stuff Done!

What a weekend! 
I just arrived home from an overnight trip to Minneapolis with Amy B., Megan, and Marie, and I am thrilled to see the progress made in my absence! I'll share all the excitement of Saturday and Sunday but first, let's backtrack to Friday evening.
Friday night, Scott started laying out the wall tile, a 6" square version of the tile used on the floor. Because the wall tile will be placed from the bottom up, each piece of the bottom row had to be meticulously measured and intentionally placed. He numbered each tile with a small piece of tape.
Here goes the first piece! 
Scott placed mortar just on the wall; no need to back-butter these small tiles.
 Just a few minutes later, the bottom row was in place.

By 10:30 Friday evening, a good chunk of the south wall tile was in place, and Scott was chomping at the bit to get more done.

The next morning, I was out the door by 5:45. While I enjoyed shopping at IKEA and the Mall of America on Saturday, Scott emailed two progress reports to me:
 By lunchtime, two walls were nearly done.
This photo was forwarded at 8:47PM when Scott took a break for dinner. Just a few tiles left to place!
As his last task for the evening, Scott mortared the transition tile at the top of the stairs leading to the basement. He "borrowed" 12 small tiles from what will be used in the master bathroom shower. The darker brown color accents the steel trim nicely. Steel will play an important part of the stair rail system - but that's a story for the near future.
Interesting tidbit about this particular piece of steel:  Scott salvaged it when the front porch was rebuilt at our Grant Street home about 15 years ago. Wouldn't you just know that, if you save a rusty piece of flat steel, and keep it in your garage for a decade or so, you'd eventually find a use to pull it out, scrape off the rust, and use it to cap off the tile of your new house.
Good Job, Mr. Pack Rat!
As he predicted, it took most of Sunday to hang the powder room door. Scott had to round up all of the frame parts and hardware, then put it all together. The good news is that the door is fully operable! All that remains is finding trim pieces and nailing them into place.
Sunday afternoon, Scott invited Kevin of The New People to noTTafarm for some demolition fun. The old kitchen will soon be the new home office, and all of the cabinets and remaining appliances need to be removed. Sadly, Scott neglected to take photos of the action. (I took these photos after arriving home Sunday evening.)

The room looks much larger without the peninsula that held the stove top, and the section of wall that held the double oven. 
Thank you, Kevin, for all of your hard work!
Kevin also had the unenviable task of unloading all remaining items in the old kitchen. My pantry is now full of all sorts of odd-and-ends for which I need to find new homes. Of course, if the pantry had actual shelves as planned, I would have a place to store all of this!

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!
Maybe I should begin planning another weekend getaway...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tiling-up Loose Ends

Tiling has resumed at noTTafarm! Scott installed the tile floor inside the powder room, figured out how to do the transition from the hall into the former kitchen, and designed a transition from the new stairwell to the landing in the connector. There was a lot of thinking and measuring and thinking and cutting but finally, some mudding! Check out the details:

Friday night, Scott laid out the tile to ensure the room was square (hence the laser level.) 
Saturday, the first six tiles went down before lunch. We are using the same 12x24 tile used in other areas of the first floor. Because the room is so small, Scott chose to utilize the simpler "stack bond" pattern for the floor. 
Each tile around the perimeter needed to be cut so it took a little more time. By Saturday late afternoon, most of the floor was covered.
Sunday morning, Scott began tinkering with the idea of creating a transition pattern between the herringbone-patterned hallway and the stack bond patterned powder room. He chose to create a row of baby-sized tiles (about 2.5 inches wide each) which line up perfectly with tiles inside and outside the bathroom.
He also worked with the transition from the hallway into the former kitchen. He will need to do a little work on the existing sub-floor before we can call this one "done."
Meanwhile, over by the door to the garage at the top of the basement stairs . . . Scott played around with a few ideas to create another smooth transition. The blue tape indicates tiles that hadn't yet been put in place since we finished the rest of the tile back in February.
Scott is bored by using number to name his tile. For this batch, he used symbols. What a nut.

Meanwhile, upstairs . . . 
My work with the poly-coating continued all weekend. Saturday, I completed the coat of brush-on poly on everything on the second floor. Sunday, I started sanding the trim, and adding the two coats of wipe-on poly. The big excitement is that I completed the entire master bedroom and was able to take down the frog tape. This room is nearly "done!" 
Removing the frog tape is the very best part of this process (that, and the beautiful woodwork that is created.)
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Friday Family

Friday afternoon (April 5th), I was excited to welcome my sister, Karolyn, and brother-in-law, Alan, to noTTafarm for the first time! Karolyn had actually visited way back in June, 2010 before we closed on the property but this is the first visit since.
Al and Pooh
Alan had a meeting in the Lake Okoboji, Iowa area Friday morning. I was happy to skip out of work a couple hours early to give them a tour. I showed them all around the house and even took them down the west trail. Unfortunately, a small sneaky snake startled Pooh on the trail; she and I have the same hatred for those particular creatures. The time flew by and before I knew it, they were on the road to Kearney to meet their girls for dinner. I hope they are able to visit again soon!
Family is the Best ~ Don't You Agree?

More of the Same

Hello, Devoted Readers! We've had a busy week of the same stuff we had a busy week with last week when we were busy!

Pardon my silliness. I think that the stain and poly fumes are getting to me...

As I was saying . . .we've made more progress on the windows and trim finishing, and the powder room. Scott has the Duroc and drywall all in place, and we should actually begin tiling this week. 
This is the first time in over two years that the poor little powder room has had walls and a sturdy floor. We were quick to tear it out but it had to wait a while for its day in the sun. The room is pretty small so we are anticipating a quick turn-around ("quick" in Scotty time, not actual time.) We'll be using the same tile as was utilized on the floor in the kitchen and connector.

While Scott worked on the powder room, I continued my quest to coat every window and door and piece of trim on the second floor with two coats of stain and three coats of poly. I've made great progress, and am about half-way done applying the first coat of poly throughout. 
The door to the deck off our bedroom offers a good example of two coats of stain vs. one coat of stain. Can you tell the difference?
Even the little attic access doors have to be treated like the door trim. Scott is going to create a panel to fit the opening by using some leftover flooring. It will look pretty spiffy when complete! (That should give you something to look forward to.)
Stay Tuned for More Progress!
Scott is taking a break this evening to do our taxes; keep your fingers crossed for a stress-free effort and a good result!