Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Renovation!

We rented a texture gun for the walls and ceilings. Rob got a little adventure when he learned to hold both the top and bottom of the gun after it separated and spilled globby texture all over him and the plastic tarp.

Rob cleaned the texture gun in the shower because he just thought it’d be easier and much more pleasant than rinsing it with a hose outside in the snow and ice.


I spent my days alternating between painting cabinets, walls, and doors and sealing concrete.


We moved the cabinet Rob made into the bathroom, scraping the paint off the doorframe as it barely fit.

We woke up on the 23rd and basically had just a cabinet and tub in the bathroom. Thus begins the long day.

With icy rain the night before, the base closed so Rob was able to stay home. Yay!

We put the back on the cabinet, installed the drawers, installed the face frame, and attached the countertop.


We installed the floor heat thermostat (SO excited about heated floors!!), new switches, expanded the box to provide space for main light, fan, and fan light. We installed the light fixture, backsplashes, side cabinets, toilet cabinet, and sink and faucet.


Late that night, we began cutting and laying the pattern for the tile. I numbered them so (hopefully) it’d be easy to put them back where they fit and mostly it was. One tile was off and made it a little imperfect, but if I can get over it, visitors can too.


We found a surprise in our box of auction tile! Some of it is beige! We had more than enough, but will remember to look more closely at any tile we might buy at the next auction…


We installed the heated mat under the thinset for the tile and finished laying tile at 5am. Whew! When we woke up again, I traversed the bathroom without touching the floor (special yoga powers) and sealed the grout in the shower. I also installed this AMAZING shower and tub set (a SWEET auction deal!).


Rob doing attic electrical work.


We grouted the floor, hung the shower rod, installed drawer fronts, and tried to finish. We’re not quite done, but here’s a picture of the bathroom in an almost completed state!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Cold Weather “Did you knows”

Did you know that after a snow, people in South Dakota still go about their daily lives? Seriously. The world is covered in white and people are grocery shopping and going to work like it’s no big deal.

I kind of wondered why everyone shoveled their driveways and sidewalks the very first morning after a snow (I thought they were just really involved in neighborhood beautification)… did you know that if you don’t, the snow forms ice? and makes it twice as difficult to shovel later?

Rob’s battery died this morning and he exchanged it for a new one at the local Wal Mart. The guy there noted the “s” at the end of the serial number… did you know they sell batteries for southern and northern climates? Rob worked at a battery store in Texas and had no idea. Now Rob’s battery has a 800 crank capability, rather than the southern’s 600.

We’re learning fast.


Renovating a home means that any non-under-construction area becomes a staging area for the project. Plus, when it’s freezing in the garage, these are some of the scenes in our house this weekend. (Note: none of these were staged in any way, this is actually the chaos in which we live now).

We haven’t eaten on our dining room table for months.


The living room requires the grace of an ice dancer to navigate.


Dirty dishes sit next to the mortar stirrer and dish gloves stained with furniture stain on the kitchen counter.


Yes, that’s paint thinner. The health inspector would SO shut us down.


The drill rests next to our breakfast and further down some tile grout visits with the butter dish.



And the tile saw hangs out in the basement with the washer dryer. Wait, that looks kind of normal compared…


But, here is what we accomplished this weekend!

These all got their final coats of primer and polyurethane. The nightstands are ready for assembly and the cabinets are ready for paint.




It got a little sunny on Saturday, so we took the opportunity to polish the concrete countertop outside (it slings water so outside is the best option, but we have done it in the garage before).

Even though it was sunny, the water droplets quickly formed ice on our clothes and icicles dripped from the two-by-fours. Rob rushed inside after each polishing pad to thaw his hands and I changed the pads and managed the water. It was cold, but the countertop is beautiful!



And finally! We tiled the shower!!! And I LOVE it!! It will look SO good with the rest of the bathroom we have planned! I went with simple ceramic subway tiles and am so pleased! (that’s green tape around the edge to protect it from the wall mud).


Rob demonstrated greater skill with the trowel and I really enjoyed the tile saw – so we made a great team with me cutting tiles as Rob laid the mortar.

I also am a little proud of the awesome work here around the shower valve. Tiling a shower took a lot longer than we expected, but we feel very accomplished!


Today is planned to texture the ceiling and walls. Then, we can really get to work finishing the bathroom!

More Changes

The military really helps me to live in the present. Enjoying each moment is a tough lesson for many to learn, but the military gives me plenty of opportunities to relish in the present.

Our plans have changed. Earlier, before we made Christmas plans, Rob’s boss told him his training dates. We made plans. Later, they found his name on some paperwork and he is to report first thing in the morning on December 27, smack dab in the middle of our planned Christmas vacation. Oh well.

Therefore, we fly to Atlanta on Christmas Day (cheapest tickets and least busy day to fly) and stay until mid-January.

Personally, I’m not very affected. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m callous. I’m of course sad to miss the opportunity to see people over Christmas, but as far as the holiday goes, I relish every time I get to see family and friends. It certainly doesn’t have to be tied to a certain time of year…

Instead, Rob and I get to celebrate Jesus’ birth together, uniting the two of us in deeper ways. And I’m overjoyed to be able to go to Atlanta and stay there while he trains! We’re renting an apartment and I plan on reading books, crocheting, cooking, shopping, and doing lots of yoga! I’m completely stoked about my vacation!

Mid-January, we come back to South Dakota (Rob only for a few days) and we’ll live in the present when it gets here.

In this busy holiday season my yoga instructor side strongly advises you to take a moment today and simply breathe, not thinking about all the things still to be done, but just 2-5 full breaths in the present.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Continuing the Renovation!


We scraped the popcorn off the ceiling and realized it’s not that hard and we could have easily done it in the bedrooms. Oh well. They look fine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy, but it’s not hard.


We taped plastic drop cloths up to the edge of the ceiling, wet the ceiling with a sprayer (we used the weed killer sprayer – rinsed out, of course), and scraped the popcorn off with the nifty scraper we bought at Lowe’s (it has an attachment to hold a bag so that when you scrape it falls into the bag). Cleanup was a breeze as we simply rolled up the plastic and threw the whole pile away.

We took out the tub, took down the tub surround, took out the toilet, fixed the squeaky subfloor, sanded the edges of the walls, and took all the trash to the dump.


Rob did some pretty awesome plumbing work! That’s right, he soldered and used the torch and everything! There was only one fire and it was quickly put out…

We’re both excited about the height of the new showerhead!


We laid hardie backer on the floor and got ready for the tub. It took a pretty long time to get here, but Rob was really excited about a cast iron tub for its strength and I like the heat retention.

A little praise for Northwestern Pipe Fittings in Rapid City, SD. Even though we’re not a fancy customer or big-time homebuilder, they delivered the 300-pound to our house! It took three guys to get it up the half-flight of stairs, but it was standing up in the bathroom before Rob got home!

Then, just a quick call to another B-1 guy (whose piano Rob helped move) got the tub into position!


This is the tile arrangement I’m thinking of doing – what do y’all think? Read below for my dilemma about shower tiles.



I really like subway tiles. Well, I really like glass subway tiles (not see-through or anything, but smooth and light-reflecting, with kind of a vintage feel). Subway tiles are the long rectangular ones, for those of you who don’t watch HGTV…

Option 1 – white glass subway tiles. Expensive!! But, so pretty! Do rectangles mix with the squares I have, though??

Option 2 – white ceramic subway tiles. Much cheaper. Still cool. Rectangles with all the squares on the floor?

Option 3 – white ceramic square tiles. Cheapest. Nice. Plain. Would squares-with-squares appeal to a wider audience for resale potential?

Decisions, decisions.

Our next step is to texture the ceiling and walls, install the new bathroom fan (and vent it outside the house, rather than into the attic…), lay the heating pad, tile the floors, tile the walls, paint, add trim, and put everything back in. Get excited!!

And here’s an in-process picture of the nightstands we’re building! Straight out a a West Elm catalog… via Ana White inspiration.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Before, After, and During

Before and Afters for your enjoyment













I LOVE DEMO! It is so gratifying! While Rob was at work, I relished in knocking the tiles off the walls and adored the sound they made as I hit them with the chisel and they “chink chink ker CHUNK” fell onto the floor! Rob relished in placing a hole where the new shower head would be – MUCH higher than it’s current “duck-your-head-to-shower” position!

While the furnace was being replaced, the workmen marveled as I brought down the sink, shower doors, and countertop.

We moved the old cabinet out and I realized how awesome Rob’s cabinetry work is!! He is AMAZING! I can’t wait to show off the finished product and say, “my husband MADE that!”


I began to pry up the floor (after I used my buddy the shopvac and cleared out the debris). The vinyl was coming up without much problem, but the 1/4” plywood it was glued to did NOT come up without a fight.


And this pile of debris in the living room has tripled in size since this photo and I only have one more trip to the landfill until I get another water bill. (I didn’t know I only got one per bill until AFTER I took two loads of styrofoam in my car! Oops!)



Here’s the concrete countertop! We (Rob) used our new concrete polisher (he had been using an angle grinder while we were still experimenting because it’s cheaper, but now we’re into the big time!) And the polisher is SMOOOTH! Rob was just gliding across the piece – thank you Moores for the polisher!

Before grinding




And After

IMG_6305 IMG_6306 IMG_6307

We even made a backsplash!


And this piece is truly “green” too! We used sand made from glass acquired at the recycling center, broken glass from our own house, broken granite salvaged from a countertop place, a shell from the beach in Florida, and rocks picked up while hunting here in South Dakota!

The next step is to slurry the piece, filling in any holes or uneven surfaces. Then, a week of curing. Then, a really nice polish until it SHINES!

By that time, we hope to have the ordered cast iron tub installed (crossed fingers that we can maneuver it into place!), the new cabinet installed and painted, the floor tiled, and the new walls up.

I’m really hoping we get it done before Rob has to leave! I don’t want to live 9 months with a half-finished bath!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Okay, the cold has hit. And I’m having plenty of moments that reveal me instantly as a cold virgin.

I continued to wear my Texas winter clothing (layers and a cute sweater coat with cowboy boots) on Sunday as it dipped into the teens and started snowing. That was stupid.

I woke up on Monday morning to 3 inches of snow outside and realized that my denial of actually living in a cold climate had prevented the purchase of a snow shovel. Thankfully, South Dakota neighbors are kind and one shoveled the walk of the poor Texans. Rob brought home a snow shovel last night.

I’m learning that scarves, hats and gloves hold a very essential purpose in the keeping of warmth. I kind of thought they were just cute winter accessories. Don’t laugh. I really did think that.

My brain doesn’t fathom the single digits on my kitchen window thermometer… especially in conjunction with the fact that I know it runs warm, being on the window. Can. Not. Fathom.

Along those lines, my phone tells me it’s negative four right now. NEGATIVE four. Uh. What??

Rob took my car on Monday as it was the first “on the roads” snow and we don’t know how his two-wheel drive truck will do. As a result, I didn’t leave the house all day, too scared to drive his truck. Get over it, McKay.

Rob will be getting some sandbags for the back of his truck as we’ve been told they help the back end from sliding around. I continue to be amazed by the things cold weather dwellers say as if it’s standard procedure “…if you wash your car make sure you dry the weather stripping because it can freeze together and seal you in or out…” what??

In defense of the cold, it is very pretty. It’s very dry and fluffy and kind of drapes everything in winter decorations. Like spray snow in the windows of Texas retailers. Only better.

I think there’s something to this “dry cold” too. If you’re just going from house to car to business, you don’t have to dress for the arctic – you can dress for a regular Texas winter and it actually doesn’t feel as cold as the Texas winter! Amazing to me that lower temps can feel less cold…

Apparently that style that people from Colorado wore in Texas – that whole “I just got in from hiking… wearing my North Face fleece and gore-tex hiking boots…” lame… is not just a style. And apparently, I need to wear that… because those people look warm.

I’ll keep updating you on the cold front… he he. Just in case any Texas decide to relocate to the “tropics of the north” – yea that’s Rapid City – because it’s a milder winter than most northern areas… milder…

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Non-House News


We enjoyed one of the last warm Rapid City days by fishing at Canyon Lake on the other side of town.

I got some great shots of Gus while we enjoyed the serenity and sun.





In backyard news, Gus alerted us to the presence of a rather large buck right outside our fence!

Sorry, I didn’t get great pictures – you’ll just have to trust me that he was really close!


I was in love with this beautiful barn on the outskirts of town and,  wonderful husband that I have, Rob noticed that they were starting to tear it down. He actually stopped and asked about the structure and got permission to take some wood. So, a couple afternoons last week, we went out and salvaged some barn wood!


And my totally amazing husband built this oh-so-awesome work table with the wood!