7.30.2014

Grouting the pantry floor.

It was grout day for the pantry floor.

Indeed, finally, getting closer to finishing the floor and a big check mark off my to-do list.

Despite my teases I'm sure you accurately guessed because you're all very smart people:  I made sawdust grout.  You can find information on how to do it online, but I must say it's an intuitive thing.  Mix a binder (polyurethane, glue, sticky stuff) with a medium (sawdust) and voila, you have a "grout."

So here are my supplies:

  • Minwax High Build Polyurethane, semi-gloss
  • Mineral spirits
  • paint bucket
  • plastic putty knife
  • mess of paint sticks
  • sawdust
  • rubber gloves
  • my trusty can of Coke in a Menards coozie


Oh, and tissues.  My constant companion as of late, tissues.

That other thing in the box is what I'll use to apply the polyurethane to the floor.  Did not realize the poly had a pronounced brown tint to it, by the way.  I blame the song playing at Menards while I was in that aisle, causing my eyes to well up.  I may exchange gallon number two tomorrow.

Don't fret if you don't have a great woodworking friend like my friend Scott with lots of sawdust.  I incidentally came across an ad on Craigslist in the free section from someone giving away bags of the stuff.  Or, search for woodworkers in your area, contact them, see if they have any they are willing to give away.  I'm sure they'd appreciate knowing their sawdust went to good use rather than the garbage bin.

I have to say, man, it was a pain in the rear end, the grouting process.  Ok, tedious.  Labor intensive, shall we say.  It's not that it was hard; it was easy but very painstaking and slow going and it required a plethora of patience.  If all of the wood pieces and gaps had been uniform, that would have made it easier for sure, but they weren't, so....

Because I was worried I'd run out of Scott's sawdust, I had picked up some from the Craigslist ad and I knew right when I saw it that it was not what I wanted.  In my compromised state, I didn't want to be rude so I bagged some up, graciously said thank you.  Scott's dust is very fine; this other sawdust was from a planer so not really dust per se, more like shavings.  That didn't work out so well, the shavings, and in fact they were rather frustrating.

This is solely Scott's sawdust, not the other stuff.
I began by using a mix of the two, poured in some poly then poured in some mineral spirits to thin things and make it more viscous.  I was also hoping the mineral spirits would speed the dry time since this poly is oil based.  I mixed everything outside as a.) it's stinky, b.) it's messy and c.) it was nice outside.

Both types of sawdust here.  Mmm, granola anyone?
As you can see, it's pretty chunky.


As you can see, not great results.  Don't be like me and mix a big vat thinking it's going to work straight away; mix a small amount and test it first.  Right, so back outside I trundled for more mineral spirits and poly.


This mix was still not working for the smaller gaps due to the large shavings type of "dust" so I resigned to use this bucket's-worth on the larger gaps and it was fine enough.  I was able to use it up and not waste it.


Batch two was better using a lot of analysis, thought, trial and error, solely Scott's fine dust, and more liquids.  It was certainly a learn as you go, jump on in kind of day as I'm sure you're gathering.

After a lot of mushing and squishing and cramming and scraping and sculpting with the mixing stick, putty knife and my (gloved) fingers (yes I had to mention gloved fingers as I might ordinarily do this not intelligently sans gloves, but since it's oil based, I gave in to the gloves), I was finally getting some results.  Big learning curve.


Patience is a virtue, I kept telling myself.  You already understood patience, but thank you Hailey for teaching me more about selfless patience (in a good way).


I realized due to the variations of the gaps that I'll have to rely on and make my polyurethane do a bigger workout when I go to seal everything up.  It'll be fine though.  I realized too that I need to think of this floor as more like art, an art installation, where the imperfections make the work.


After a long day, five hours+ to be approximately exact, I finally got it grouted.  It's hard to see in the photos (I didn't want to get my crusty sawdust/poly covered fingers despite the gloves all over my nice camera) but it's pretty messy.  It was a fine line between scraping up the excess so as to minimize sanding/clean up and scraping out what I had just struggled to get in there.


Right now, it just looks like the floor is wet-ish with lots of chunkies on it.  I really hope I don't have to sand too much, which I'll do by hand to protect the patina of the wood, but we'll see, huh?


Some friendly tips:

  • constantly stir the mix as the sawdust settles quickly
  • wear a respirator if you have one; run a fan and open windows otherwise
  • wear yucky clothes as you will get gooey crunchy
  • it doesn't behave like real grout or like patching a wall
  • work in small sections or areas at a time, especially if you use poly as it will absorb fast
  • oh and be patient

So I'll see tomorrow how this all panned out.  It sure is smelly in here.

I just wanted to say thank you to those who sent messages or commented after yesterday's post.  It was genuinely difficult to write after everything that has happened (Mike read it and the first thing he said to me was, "how did you do that?").  Every day, every hour, is arduous for us right now to say the very least, so to hear you all care and support us and are thinking of us and continue to read along means quite a lot.  Thank you.

I am dedicating this blog in its entirety to Hailey as if it hadn't been for her, we would not be in this house.  It is uncomfortable to call this a "home" without her.

7.29.2014

Back at the pantry floor. And life, it's....I don't know.

So.  Hi.

It's been a bit, I know, a week and half-ish.  Our lives did a 360 on us or a 720 or who knows what.  July 20, in the morning, after breakfast and some cheese, Hailey unexpectedly and suddenly passed away.  The sheer terror, the utter panic, the...I don't even know.  Traumatizing.  We are profoundly devastated and from the bottoms of our souls bereaved.  There are no words to describe, really, it's so excruciating.  She was our world -- everything we did, we did for her.  We bought her a house, for goodness sake.

Almost a year old you are here, my sweet baby doll.
My little soul puppy.

Thankfully, I have an extraordinary and smart husband.  Not only did he, does he, and always will love that silly little pea, he had the wherewithal to say, "I have to take you out of town, right now, get away from the house," so we left.  The one place I always want to be, home, was, and now is, a place that's so upsetting to be in.  Thankfully too we have friends like Scott and Corinna who helped us get through last week.

But life has to and does keep moving forward, I hear.  It hurts.

Sorry to start this post so glum, but such are our lives right now.  To keep busy I turned to the pantry floor project since it's something I need to get done before starting work on Monday for Sirens.

This past Saturday, I stopped by to see Twitchy one last time and collected a handful of wood.  I think I also stopped by Menards that day as well to get the floor underlayment I had picked out online.

Today I began fitting pieces, filling in the last little areas and along the opposite wall.


It was tricky and I was concentrating hard to not cut my fingers off with the saw, but I got all the bits and ends and pieces in.  I have all my fingers intact.


Ah, there's that Lemon Curd paint color.  It's nice and bright and cheery, dontcha think?


Next up was the underlayment.  I rolled it out to measure and cut which is super easy because it's just rolled foam, sorta like the packing material kind.  Not the highest of quality in underlayment maybe but I didn't need nor want anything supremely fancy.


After measuring and cutting came feeble attempts to stay on top of my brain.  To keep all the pieces of wood in the same order I painstakingly laid them down in, I stacked them in reverse order in small piles, placed the underlayment, then re-placed all the wood pieces.


As I was re-placing each piece, I gave any scruffy edges a light sand by hand so as to not mess up the patina.  Slow and onerous maybe, but a power tool here would not have been the right choice.

Once all the pieces were down, my next decision was the small step.


I had picked up some thinner, narrower pieces of more slat-like wood and fitted those onto the top and face of the step.



Mike suggested painting the edge face of the tread which is a great idea and what I will do.  I might try to find a piece of half round to cram into that gap on the side of the step.  Or slice a thin piece, I'm not sure yet.  Those slat pieces also help wedge the floor pieces too, an added bonus.

Next up, nail all those suckers down.  My woodworking friend Scott, sheesh, he....he's been such a great friend to me.  He loaned me his compressor and nail gun.  Even gave me brads in two different sizes.  I didn't ask, he offered; I'm loathe to loan out my own tools as something inevitably goes awry, so his seriously generous overture was humbling.

Messy image, I know.
And of course something went awry because it's me.  The nail gun stopped working.  After going over and through it and over it, I discovered a brad got stuck.  Then I couldn't get it out.  Then it wedged itself further.  After talking to Scott on the phone, with assist from his girlfriend Corinna, we got the darn thing out but then it wasn't seating the brads right....Sigh, heh.  After a long day at his job, he came by and fixed it.

A tiring day and I'm exhausted.  I couldn't get going on the "grout" but I'll do that tomorrow.

Thanks everyone for following along with me through these projects, for following my tales of Hailey, her cancer, our quiet lives now, for reading along.  To take time out of your busy lives to read what a modest little DIY'er is doing with her house, I'm appreciative.

So, this week I'll wrap up that floor and take care of those ugly television/cable wires thanks to my friend Janette.  

7.24.2014

Change of gears

I'm sorry I've been away.  Hailey suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on Sunday.  We've been utter wrecks.  I'll hopefully be back soon.  Thanks so much for reading along.


7.19.2014

Slow down Saturday but gearing up for floor completion.

Ah Saturdays.  It's always been my most favorite day of the week.  Many years ago, before Mike, I used to lollygag lazily all day, watch cooking shows on PBS for hours on end then make myself something ridiculous for dinner, like a frozen pizza.

These days Mike works on Saturdays so I consider it a work day for myself.  Although today, I opted to take it a bit easy.  It's been a busy week in these parts, what with getting Mike's office painted, then trying to tackle the rain barrel situation, plus all those little things I did the other day, oh and then working on the front doors.  Plus, yep, I'm pooped from Phish last night and Hailey waking Mike (us) up at 2:30 am and me at 7:30 am with tinkle emergencies.  I deserve a break, don't I?

I did swing by and see Twitchy today.  He's setting things out for me in the hopes I'll stop by!  Heh, kinda cute!  Plus he actually almost smiles at me now!  He was all excited to show me a bin with lots of brand new 1x4 pine pieces that he put out for me.  I should stock up on those just to have as stuff like that comes in handy.  Can't beat the price either.

He let me go all the way in back into the big shed where the guys were slicing and dicing pallets and wood so I could rifle through the bins in there.  One of the other guys recognizes me now too and he pointed me in the right direction.

If only I were a wee bit stronger, if only my lame ripped up "construction grade" garbage bag had held a smidge more, I'd be done collecting wood!  Ah rats!!

Doh!!  Soooo close, yet so far!!
I'll need to rip down some pieces somehow and wedge them into this unfortunate gap seen below on the right hand side.  Hm.  That will be interesting.


Tuesday will be the big floor day.  It's supposed to be a scorcher then too.

I'll visit Twitchy, grab a few more pieces, swing by Menards for floor underlayment, maybe rent the compressor and nail gun then too, pick up some poly.  I've decided to go sans stain (thanks Vannessia!).  The poly will deepen the wood and even out the tone all on its own.  I'll make some cool funky "grout" to fill in gaps thanks to my woodworking friend Scott, an idea both he and my friend Micah suggested to me (which I'll share later), and get this floor d.o.n.e. done.

I'd start on Monday but we have a big scary vet appointment that morning.  Last time we saw Dr. H, after considerable discussion, we decided to give Hailey a chest x-ray to see if the cancer has spread to her lungs.  This will help us see where we're at/decide if we should give her more chemo or plan, um, cry, otherwise.  I'd rather not give her more chemo because I worry it's doing other harm and we always have some kind of issue after each dose but then again, I'm also paranoid to stop.

That day will be torturous hell for her as she does not ever roll onto her back, not even for us ever (except two or three times in almost 12 years, unwittingly in her sleep which was sooooo cute), she hates people, and she hates going to the vet.  The regular vet would only do a chest x-ray if she was doped up, if that gives you any indication of Her Royal Squirminess.  It's torturous hell for us biding time, waiting for this appointment, speculating, worrying, and we're beyond terrified of receiving bad news that day.

Praying to the Puppy Gods on Monday, we will be.
Ahem.  In other news, later this next week I hope to have a super duper spiffy DIY done involving the television and errant messy wires, a zillion thanks to my friend Janette.  She rocks and I'm quadruple head-over-heels excited about it.

So stay tuned, my friends!  Lots of doing ahead and sharing will be bountiful!

Off to Phish show number two tonight, yay!!  Hope you're having a fantastic weekend!

7.18.2014

List Schmist.

Yeah, I went totally off-list today.  So much for having a list then, right?!  This project was on that secret mental list, though today, just so I could have the satisfaction of crossing it off, I wrote it on the actual list.  I know, I'm a dork.

The front door exterior.


It would not be my first choice of doors in general, overall, for a slew of reasons, but it's here and doors are expensive, so, I thought I'd paint it.  Since I needed to return the spray paint I picked up for our new patio chairs, I figured I'd pick up door paint in its place.

I asked Mike, who generally doesn't always have an opinion about house stuff, but does have a great inherent sense of design, what color he'd like for the front door.  It's his house too, though he has proffered many a time that I can do whatever I want.  I wanted to include him in this decision.

He said dark green.  Not a color I might ordinarily choose by way of not being a big green fan, but he said for some reason he has always wanted a dark green front door.  Who am I to refuse?


I really don't know what's up with this door anyway.  It's not the original door but it's not a new door sooooo, either the flipper took it from another project/house/stole it and installed it here or picked it up in an alley somewhere.  I'm betting alley.  It's beat up and dirty with unremovable dirt.  Oh and I have scrubbed.  Many times.  Scrubby scrubby scrubby.  Nothing.  Nice, right?


It's not often I use brush-on oil based paint and despite all the years I've been painting things which has been a lot of years and a lot of painted things, I still suck at using oil based paints.


Yeah.  Needs a second coat, clearly, but because oil paints take so long to dry, it'll have to be another day.  And maybe another type of brush, maybe a small roller to get it even.  That's always my problem, getting the paint even.  I suck at brushing oil paint, heh.

After I put this paint on I realized oh, well, huh.  That puts a kink in my plan to stop by Twitchy's for more wood for the pantry floor.  Rats!

Maybe it was the fumes, maybe it's me, I dunno, but that's when the day veered off into crazy town territory.


We dislike the awkward, clunky, unwelcoming, pretty well unnecessary security door.  Uh oh, right?

Since I was painting the main door dark hunter green, having the white security door glaring in front of it defeats the whole purpose of painting the main door.  Yep.  I opted to paint the security door too.  Crazy town.

As the hinges are buried, I couldn't get just the door off to paint it.  Sigh.  Taking the whole door frame out to paint it was not an option for me today.  Nor will it ever be until we replace this door with something more friendly.



Staring at it from the inside, the thought of hand brushing the paint on all those itty bitty parts made my head hurt.  The thought of applying a second coat on all those itty bitty parts made me queasy.  After analyzing the door and all its parts, out came the screw gun and off came all the interior parts.

Thankfully I've toted a roll of brown kraft paper around with me all these years so I papered up the door from the inside, then headed out to spray paint it with the matching color spray paint I bought.


So ok yes, I did kinda sorta a little bit possibly premeditate doing this.  I didn't expect it'd be a train wreck though.  Despite cleaning the door, the paint went haywire.


And despite my best efforts, the spray paint went everywhere.


Ugh.  This sucks.  Ugh.  Ok.  Can't figure out why this is happening unless I needed to clean more thoroughly.  Ugh.  Sob.  Ok.  Let it dry, I thought, then come back.  Maybe the pitted areas will seal up.

In the mean time, the crazy town ship sailed again and I painted the front steps, off-list.  There's soooo much iron work that needs painting it's ridiculous but I figured if I could at least get the steps painted and if I can't get to any more of it, at least the steps will be protected through the winter.  And so now they are.

I did end up talking to a neighbor from across the street for a bit, or at least more so than I have in the past.  We affectionately call him Sweeper as he is out every day, several times a day, sweeping his sidewalk, neighboring sidewalks, and a large portion of the city street.  Every day.  Yes, even in winter.  With a little red plastic broom.

He's lived here for 30 years and keeps a close watch on the immediate area as he has family living in about three or four of the houses around him.  While we do ever so slightly get a kick out of and shake our heads at his OCD sweeping activities, we appreciate it and him and all he does by making his watchful presence well known.

He asks about Hailey when we see him as he saw me out front with her one day shortly after her surgery.  He was visibly painfully bewildered at her missing leg and is genuinely concerned for and worried about her well-being.  Long story short, we like our neighbors.

But back to the door.

Even after letting it dry, then a second then a third then a fourth then who knows how many more sprays, it still yielded this mottled look.  Soooo, I thought I'd convince myself the door wants to go for that hammered look and I will call it done.

After the second or third coat?  Can't remember now.
Lots of touch up to manage, but if I don't get to it in the next two weeks, it's not the end of the world.  We rarely see the front of our house and it's not too particularly horrible nor offensive to the neighbors.

If you look hard enough, you can see Hailey evaluating my handiwork.
No, I didn't paint the frames of the interior parts but the white isn't bothering me.  Yet.  I'm looking forward to shutting the front door and seeing how it looks from the sidewalk.

Oh!  Ice machine is working again, finally, for now anyway, and since I have to dump the first batch, I'll revisit that DIY dyed art project again, see how that pans out.  I'm thinking of stitching some dimensional yarn elements into it when it's done too, a la macrame-ish, we'll see.

Off to scurry about and make dinner super early for eating on the fly.  Phish is in town starting tonight for a three night stint so that's our weekend!

7.15.2014

It's the little things. They add up!

You guessed, it's been a day of little things.  But, they do add up as I now have a smattering of X's instead of words on my list.  Plus, as a bonus, I did a few extra things not on my actual list, but on that secret mental list.

Feels good, I tell ya!

After a zippy quick tour with blow-in insulation estimate company number two, a jaunt to the p a r k with a fine furried one and a whirl around the yard with the mower that finally decided to start for me again, it was time to get shakin'.

Yes, I spelled it p a r k.  Hailey is smart.  She hears what I type.  I'm not crazy.

I apologize in advance for the crummy photos.  Took 'em with the phone, phone taking poo poo photos today.  :(

So here's the highlight reel!

Task one began by putting vinyl tiles under the kitchen sink.


I've seen the idea bandied about, can't remember where exactly, but thought it was a clever one since that area always is messy trouble.  Got some black vinyl tiles for a mere $0.59 each and went to work.  Super fast; sheesh, super easy.  Done in like what, ten minutes?  Why'd it take so long to get that project wiped off my list?!  Ah ha, vinyl tile, wipe, pun.


In the end, yes, it's dark and it makes the cabinet interior even darker, but I was concerned light tiles would stain and always look dirty no matter what I did.  Yick -- if I'm gonna clean, gosh darn it, it better be clean when I'm done with it.


Next up was the guest bath faucet.  I had to remove it as my plan was to add a rubber gasket between the faucet and the sink top to stop it from sliding all over the place every time I merely glanced at it.

Faucet, doesn't stay still.
Menards had this spiffy make-your-own-gasket rubber pack.  I wasn't able to find the exact gasket I was looking for, so this was a funky option.  Turns out it worked better than anticipated.  Not only did I use it on the faucet, I was able to bonus project cut a gasket for a jar that has a glass lid.  Nifty!

After tracing the original gasket, I cut out two circles.


I wiggled the first one on and since the faucet base is not round, I trimmed up the edges with scissors.  Easy peasy gaskety goodness.


Reassemble everything, tighten it all down, and hey!  The faucet doesn't slip around!  Neat!  As an added layer of no-more-slippy-slidey-please, I used that same white Locktite adhesive that went on the access panel and did a bitty makeshift caulk job.  A few hours later, and bingo, good to go.  X!

I did tidy up the excess glue after everything set, no worries.
Since I was in there, I touched up the paint.  Another X!

Wet paint!  Woo hoo!  X!
And, since I was upstairs and had painted that last wall in the master bedroom despite not wanting to because I want to rip apart that wall and install a pocket door to the bathroom, I opted to hang one of my most precious possessions.  I don't consider all that many things as "precious possessions" because, well, things are things and they can be replaced plus we all likely have too many things.  Except these tiles can't be replaced.  

There's that dresser I want to strip of paint.
Ok ok, I will admit to being sentimental about some belongings, all right.

I made these tiles when I was two years old and this assemblage hung in my grandparents' kitchen until my grandfather passed away.  I would look at it every time I visited.


I'm not sure who constructed this, I'll have to ask my mom, but every time I move this it gets personally hand packed and carried by me.  It's nice to see it again as it has been three years in packed hiding.

Last project for the day, or as of this writing anyway, was working on the area where I tore out that depressing leaning tower of handrail mess.

Waaaay old photo.
Several weeks back, I gave the affected parts a work-over with patch stuff, so today was about cleaning it up and wrapping it up.

First, the wall got a finish sanding and then ahhh, Summer Shower paint rained upon it.  Like that unfortunate hand rail never happened....


Feeling a wee bit perfectionist-ism because the flipper people did such a crap job of installing the wood here, I ended up slathering on a second goopy layer of Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty and gave it another round of sanding.  They don't kid about that rock hard characteristic.


A couple 'a coats of semi-gloss white and bam, like it never had those unsightly spindles impaling it.  X and X!

I Hate that "carpet."  Capital H hate.
Nice!  What an accomplished day, right?  Oddly, even though I did a bunch of stuff, somehow it doesn't feel like a great deal got done.  Likely because I've got that pantry floor haunting me.  Or, maybe it will never feel like enough gets done.

But.  I will say, the list looks muuuch shorter now.  Huh, wonder if I could get those kitchen cabinets painted after all.....

Oh!  Rain!  Gotta run!