Haloween is in the air and on the racks

I came across these adorable toddler halloween costumes at Old Navy Saturday afternoon.  Why don't they make the dragon in my size...I want one!  Strawberry Shortcake is also adorable and reminded me of the amazing costumes my mother made for me and my brother growing up making each and every halloween awesome (and birthdays when we got a second costume of the year) which I *will* follow up with pictorial evadenance post unpackingness.

While for me to complain about the mass production of clothes would be stupid seeing that i work in the industry, I will soap box for a moment about special occasion sewing/making like all hallows eve.  There is something magical about halloween costumes. We often want to wear them all the time as children dressing up and living out our dreams, and throughout our lives for some of us. We are super visual beings with a need to dress the part, even as the knight sent to save the madien by donning a sword, it matters not that its made of plastic or cardboard. We just need that special item to storm the castle and save the seven realms from certain peril.

While I amn't going to have time this year to bust out the Rouge costume , it will remain on the list with fingers crossed for next year and something else will be complied this year that doesn't include eight to ten fittings ; )  I hope everyone is able to take a few minutes and "make" something for themselves and their little ones (boyfriends and husbands included) to help make Halloween special, even a quick five minute hat or wand to spruce up their fourth time wearing that Harry Potter costume. These are our lives and those projects no matter how complicated provide us with both tales and memories for years to come as well as that tremendously wonderful feeling..."you made that? For me?" [Insert amazingly wonderful grin and for get that camera so you have pictures to remember it for years to come].

Who are you going to be channeling this all hallows eve?

How To: Sewing your own Shower Cap

I finally had to say farewell to my Hello Kitty shower cap as the elastic literally fell off and i noticed a hole at the top.  Now for someone with 2+ feet of hair i need a shower cap that is industrial strength and can handle the on/off, being slept in, and not develop a colony of mold.  So instead of heading off to the beauty supply store i went to the fabric store.  I mean seriously, it can’t be hard to just make a new shower cap, right?

Well turns out the answer is no, it’s not hard at all.  So not hard i can explain it to you here in just a few short steps, ready?

Step 0: Before you do anything … look for fabric.  It was a deal breaker for me if i couldn’t find a super cute vinyl to enjoy for years to come.  I found super awesome fabric, and had to compose myself at the $27 a yard price tag.  I mean it’s not even a costume!!!  Well when i did the math and realized i would only need 3/4 of a yard along with the plan to not have any elastic or trims it turned out the cost was still less then i’d have paid for a new one (especially since the last was from Japan and a plan ticket is a lot more than $25).  So, to cross this one off the list ensure you have the following supplies:

  1. Fabric – I chose a vinyl coated fabric, you want something water proof … and CUTE!
  2. Matching Thread – I chose upholestry thread as it’s thicker and will stand up to wear better than plain old poly
  3. Snaps – Sticking with the desire to have less than zero % mold i went with metal snaps instead of elastic
  4. Color Pencil – for Fabric Marking, i keep a couple of yellow ones around the house at all times
  5. Twine/String/Yarn – Something to help you draw a perfect circle
  6. Tape – Anything that will hold the yarn in place for a few minutes with moderate pressure
  7. Scissors – To cut the fabric and thread, nothing fancy required
  8. Measuring Tape – To keep your sewing honest, and so you only have to do things once

Step 1: Prep for Circle Time.  So what’s the easiest way to draft a circle?  unfortunately not what i found on most the internet when i did a couple of searches.  The super easy way to draft a circle is with a piece of twine/rope/yarn (i don’t even cut mine, afterwards i roll it back onto the ball).  As shown below, take the yarn and tie the end to the color pencil. From the tip of the color pencil measure out half of the desired diameter of the shower cap of yarn (10.5” for me so i’d have room for curlers or rags), take a piece of tape and secure the yarn at the desired length to the back of the fabric with enough room to allow you to draft the full circle.

Shower Cap 101: Step 1 - Trace Off Circle

Step 2: Draft your circle.  Now that we have everything setup, hold the color pencil up right without pulling too much on the yarn and draw your circle!  Watch that you hold the pencil upright to get a real circle, instead of an oval.

Shower Cap 101: Step 2 - Draw Circle

Step 3: Cut it out.  Now that you have a super awesome circle drawn on the back of the fabric grab your scissors and cut it from the rest of the fabric.

Shower Cap 101: Step 3 - Cut out Circle

Step 4: Slit!  Since i decided to forgo the elastic and use snaps instead i need a slit that i will finish off with some self bias tape.  I cut a 3.5” slit with 45 degree angles to allow me easy access for setting the bias tape.

Shower Cap 101: Step 4 - Cut Slit

Step 5: Binding Off.  To clean off the slit i cut strips of the fabric 2” wide for a 1/2” finished width.  Once you have set the tape tack the top edge of the triangle to keep the tape flat (skipping the detailed bias tape instructions as there are about 2 million videos online :)

Shower Cap 101: Step 5 - Set Binding around strip

Step 6: Tuck, tuck, tuck.  Without elastic we still need to reduce the total head opening size.  Shirring is out as this is super stiff fabric, like shirring a fully lined corset – pass!  So i went with tucks!  I started off with 1” total reducing tucks every 1/2” and had to step it up a bit in the middle to hit my target head circumference of 21.5”.

Shower Cap 101: Step 6 - Set Tucks Around Opening

Step 8: Bands and Snaps!  After the tucks i cut out a head band section measuring 23” long by 3” wide.  This allowed me to set the band like a bias tape with a 1/2” seam allowance and a finished 1” band.  I tucked in the ends before finishing off with the machine and then hand sewed the ends shut.  Final touch was a few snaps set at 1” to allow for adjustments

Shower Cap 101: Step 7 - Setting Snaps

Step 9: Your Done!  And in my case it’s dark outside.  It amazing how time flies while hand sewing.  I have given it a whirl both right side out for a quick shower and wrong side out for an overnight conditioner treatment, both with fantastic success.  It sure is nice to not have to wear a towel and syran wrap for those anymore.  Also the bicycles and awesome dots make this dressy enough to totally go outside with … at least for the mail ; )

Shower Cap 101: Step 8 - Ready for your head!

How To: Getting that new Gas/Electric Stove Hooked up!

The stove is here!  It’s so ridiculously exciting i can barely believe it that i will finally be able to eat pasta at home again.  Luckily stoves seem to come with some pretty rockin instructions so i will just cover a couple of tips instead of a massive start to finish and remind everyone of a couple things: a) TURN OFF THE ELECTRICITY before working on any wiring, you never know… b) Read the instructions.  And i mean really read them BEFORE we pull out a single tool.  You never know, step 15 might provide you with a diagram of what you did in step 3 or may tell you to undo what you’ve done and isn’t it nice to know these things from the start?

I am skipping the electrical part as this will be slightly different for each stove purchased, please refer tot he manual and previous posts about wiring duplexes.  Remember, these are just giant, fancy duplexes that can pass a bunch more energy around, so all of the principles of wire stripping and setting are the same.

Basic Gas Piping Connections 101:

First thing to do is check that you have all of the supplies that you need: Gas Piping Tape, appropriate Gas Piping for the extension you are adding, Gas Piping “Goup”.  Note that i kept repeating the word Gas in all of those.  This is important as Black Gas Piping is different then other metal pipes and you will need to ensure that you get the right supplies to protect you from any Gas Leaks.

Step 1: Turn off the gas coming into the house.  This will ensure that you don’t blow yourself up or die from gas poisoning, kind of important to enjoy the stove once you’re done

Step 2: Prep the existing Gas Stub for extension.  Remove the cap placed on the extension, or old pipe if you are disconnecting a previously installed pipe setup.  Place a small amount of goup onto the extension threading and then wrap two full passes of the Gas Piping tape over the goup and threads.  This will provide a secure connection between the pipes ensuring there are no leaks.

House Wk 42: Gas Piping - Step 1: Guop and Tape

Step 3: Screw on the first piece of the extension.  Since i wanted an easy to reach shut off valve before the flex pipe to connect the gas to the stove i decided to add this extension of a 90 degree elbow and a 6” section of pipe to help elevate the shut off.  So far it’s been super handy for all of the stove repairs.

House Wk 42: Gas Piping - Step 2: Round the Corner

Step 4: If adding the extension as i did, repeat the steps to cover the threadings on the pipe extension and then screw together using a couple of wrenches to ensure a tight seal.  While you want it tight, you don’t have to kill yourself, that’s that the tape and goup are for.

House Wk 42: Gas Piping - Step 3: Up we go

Step 5: Lastly before the flex pipe we will goup and tape the threadings on the pipe and then attach the shut off valve to the extension.  From here it’s the same thing of goup, tape, attach all the way up the way up to the stove, easy!

House Wk 42: Gas Piping - Step 4: Shut off Valve

House Week 42: The Meaning of … My House

As we hit this milestone things are in a good and steady groove within mi casa.  No, things are no where near done, but somehow it is all starting to come together.  This week, with the help of my new best friend the oven, bread and cookies were baked and life returned a bit back to pre-move normalcy.  I am really enjoying the oven and just need to get the stupid broken knob fixed.  Oh well, something has to be on the fix it list at all times right?

Also to celebrate the milestone (and offer me a bit of flexibility) the week numbered posts are goin’ the way of the dino…to be only seen in the archives going forward.  Oh don’t think this means the end of the house updates!  In truth it’s more so i can bombard you with all sorts of other things about the house that have nothing to do with progress and not feel guilty about the blogging and lack of items i’m able to check off the to-do list at the end of each week.

Some existing news … i ordered my flooring!  I went with a stranded poplar in 4” wide planks which happens to be 100% recycled.  The flooring is a beautiful deep red/brown/black with different highlights throughout as is produced by Eco Timber – Last Dance.


The idea is to run this in a single direction the entire length of the house to mimic the original fir flooring that was in the home when i purchased it.  We are still figuring out if this is a project we want to do ourselves or just pay someone else to do.  Unfortunately if it gets added to our “family” list then i may not have a floor until Christmas (yes, it’s not even Memorial Day yet!) which, while not the end of the world, is a lot longer then i would like to have to wear shoes at all times in my own home.  So many things to figure out…

Winter is Finished … in Cardigan Form

Back, oh so long ago…March, i finished the cardigan i have been toting around since the end of the summer from place to place doing knit knit knit knit knit knit.  Yep Just knitting the sleeves in the round somehow took me forever.  But alas i have finally finished the Tea Leaves Cardigan!

Thank you Inder for the FANTABALOUS pictures of my Purple bundle of warmth!


Next … onto a re-do of my first sweater.  You remember the one, where i was wider than tall.  Yea, it’s been ripped out and i am nearly 50% done with the body!

House Week 41: and i said Let there be Light! (and a couple of Smoke Detectors)

It’s amazing how much a few lights can really make a place look lived in.  Or in my case … live-able.  I have been stealing time away from work and everything else in my life for months so since the move in i have put a lot on the back burner to try and re-connect with the world and my friends.  The outcome has been a much happier me.  The second outcome is that i don’t have tons to blog about regarding the house (knitting coming soon!!!) as little process has been occurring, but that’s more than none.  So what have i been finding time to do around here?  Install lights!

First off…not one single shock!  Crazy i know, but with all of the electrical work i have done on this house i have not shocked myself once, not even a little bit.  I guess it pays to check, re-check, and re-check once more that all of the switches and breakers are off before beginning any work.

Installing lighting fixtures is one of those 15 minutes here and another 10 minutes there type task that you can perform whenever, as long as you can get another light into the room so you don’t fall off the ladder onto a pile of shoes or something equally deadly.  Luckily i have plenty of portable lights since the move in was completed before all of the walls were sealed so non of the lights were set yet.  So how do you install a light fixture you ask?  Easy!

First pick out the fantabalous new fixture that you will enjoy for years to come and get it to you house.  Once you have the fixture there are a couple of different types so the installation will vary.  The first set i tackled were the closets which being a super simple ceramic pull chain were a snap!

PULL CHAIN CERAMIC CLOSET FIXTURES - These are the most simple and what i found on the pull chain lights i installed in the closets.  Follow these instructions if you fixture does not have any wires coming off of it, only screws (similar to the duplex outlets installed earlier).  First you strip off approximately 1/2” of the covering over the wires you have already run everywhere.  Actually let’s back up one step.  TURN OFF THE CIRCUT BREAKER FOR THAT FIXTURE.  This is so you don’t die and can finish the rest of the installation yourself.  Ok, with the power off and the wires stripped bend the tips into a horseshoe shape.

House Week 41: Pull Chain Light - Curling Wires

Next place the appropriate wires over their screws and use the electrical pliers once more to tighten the horseshoe shape around the screw so the majority of the wire is now touching the screw.  Next take the screwdriver and set the screws tight clamping down the wire in place.

House Week 41: Pull Chain Light - Looping around Screws

If you have a grounding screw in the light can you can use that for your remaining stripped copper ground wire so that you do not get shocked each time you pull the chain on the light.  Otherwise there are bars and clips that you can purchase at the hardware store to replicate this, and grounding is important!  Now that you have all of the wires set to the fixture and box we will set the fixture.  For the ceramic pull chain fixtures i set the screws most of the way prior to placing the fixture on so that i didn’t have to hold it in place the entire time i set the screws.  Now that it’s attached, turn back on the power, screw in a blub, and pull the chain.  Did it light up?  If so…congratulations!  If not, i’d call an electrician.

House Week 41: Pull Chain Light - I did that!

HARD WIRED SMOKE DETECTORS: While i usually only procrastinate a little bit, for these i was way overdue.  I know they are annoying and i know they always go off at the absolute wrong time, but they really can save your life.  And if you cook as much as i hope to in the future (once the oven arrives) then they are a must regardless that they are required by law.

So how to you set them?  TURN OFF THE POWER and then connect the colors!  Using my new best friends “Wire Nuts” you simply place the white with the white, black with the black, and if you are linking multiple units the red from your 3-way wire to the orange on the unit! 

House Wk 41: Smoke Detection - Making the Connections

Next set the screws a bit, same as the pull chain lighting, before setting the smoke detector onto the wall so you don’t have to hold it in place the whole time that you are setting the screw.  Slip the smoke detector over the screws and set them the final few turns to firmly attach the unit to the wall/ceiling.

House Wk 41: Smoke Detection - Setting the Housing

Plug the wires into the unit and swivel the unit onto the housing until it is snug.  Turn the power back on and perform the initial test to confirm it is working (usually holding a button and having your ears blasted with a couple of quick beeps).  Also check for the magical green light!  If you have it…you are a go! (roger, roger)

House Wk 41: Smoke Detection - Green Light mean Go!

***BREAKING NEWS*** I have an Oven!!!

Yes ladies and gentleman … i have received my fantastic Aga Oven i ordered over a year ago.  Here it is, fresh off the truck, sans the plastic, and i am super ready to get back into the baking swing of things.  I have greatly missed my banana breads and cranberry scones these few months that the toaster oven just couldn’t reproduce.

House Wk 42: My STOVE

Now i just need to do a couple quick things before i begin my baking spree…

  • Pipe the gas line from the wall
  • Wire the new duplex super fancy plug
  • Attach the handles
  • Set the burners, covers, and grills
  • …and buy a new bread book!!!

All of these fun things will be written about this week!  I promise!  Lots of pictures for anyone else out there thinking of getting a new fancy pants oven for themselves or a super loved one.

Also for those of you out there wondering just how i’ve been eating for the last two months, here is a picture of my ENTIRE kitchen worth of food prep: table, drying rack, electric kettle, toaster oven, and Brita pitcher.  Also the “kitchen sink”.  Yep, this oven is long over due along with maybe some cabinets…

The kitchen prep area   The kitchen sink

House Week 40: Screwing Things in Place – Front Porch

So after weeks and weeks of rain i was finally able to get all of the porch boards sealed on all sides, which meant once i got back from LA they were ready to be drilled, screwed, and walked on.  Since we had planned ahead (for once) all of the boards were cut and marked making it truly as easy as it sounds.  Here’s what i did:

Step 1: Determine the Spacing for the screws and boards.  While this sounds easy, it actually is!  The hardest part is ensuring that the holes for the screws are equidistant from both edge of the boards.  This is helpful if you ever damage a board and want to turn it over to the other face so that holes align and you are not tearing up the boards or joists.  As the template we drilled our holes into a paint stirrer stick which was super light and easy to use board to board.  Also to ensure that the boards don’t move around or squeak i placed screws on every other joist.  This meant that the boards were screwed down in three different positions the length of the board averaging every 24”.

Step 2: Lay out all of the boards exactly where you want them and mark the spots for the screws.  By laying things out first you are able to ensure that you have all of the boards in the right spots and make adjustments if necessary.  Mark the holes using a sharp felt tip marker.  When you remove the template check that you can see your marks, little is more frustrating then having to go back and remark everything a second (or third) time.

Step 3: Drill!  Well before you drill check that you have the appropriate sized drill bit.  I had the right size but found out i have a talent for breaking off drill bits.  Off to the hardware store i went with a piece of the porch and they were able to help me find dre_ah strength drill bits which i managed to not even break one of…nice!  Drill as straight of a hole as possible where you placed you marks on all of the boards.

Step 4: Screw!  Once you’ve drilled the boards realign all of the spacing around each board, the Merbau recommended 5/16” (check the manufacturers info for the board spacing as some woods need more than others).  Once in alignment pull out your giant box of deck screws (ensure the screws are appropriate for the weather you porch will be enjoying) and screw down the boards.  I found it helpful to stand on the individual board i was setting to ensure it didn’t move.  Also i placed one screw along the top of each of the boards down the entire row came along the back of the row repositioning each board setting one screw to get them all right where i wanted them before setting all of the remaining screws.  This allowed me to maneuver them instead of having to pull out the screws to make minor adjustments.   Here is a picture of what we have so far…

House Wk 42: Screwing the Porch

Step 5: Set the remaining screws…and you’re done!  Time to enjoy that awesome porch!  Or in my case, go buy a rosemary plant.

House Wk 42: Finished Ft Porch     House Wk 42: Top Down Front Porch

House Week 39: Prepping the Merbau Boards for the Porch

Having made the decision about the what, now all that was left to get started was picking them up. This was made easy as they come in 12’ lengths, so with a smile a request was made to have them cut in half and in half they were cut fitting perfectly into the truck!  Thank you Ashby Lumber!  Once we had the boards back at the house it was time for some planning on where and how we wanted to position them for the best look (the porch isn’t quite square…).  We decided to align the first board with the inside edge of the front steps so we could work our way towards each end from a central starting point.  This allows us to adjust the spacing for each board as necessary to accommodate the shape of the porch.

The board to the far left is our “starter” board, the first board we positioned for the porch and what all of the other boards will be spaced from.  To the right we have started to trim the other planks to fit recessed in the porch.

House Wk 39: Merbau Decking - Positioning

After each of the boards were cut it was quittin time so piled high into the garage they went to await tomorrow when they would begin their path to “sealed”-ness.  Luckily we had a bit of good weather allowing me to get a coat of wax along each cut end to seal the boards from a future damage.  Even through they are kiln dried they still need to be sealed to prevent moisture from entering the wood, which is done all over the boards at the factory so i only had to touch up the spots where we had trimmed them to fit in the space.

After the sealing is done and dry, another day, then it’s time to begin the multi day process of staining each of the surfaces of the planks for added durability.  Yes they have a crazy warranty and yes they are already sealed, but this is one of those things you do so you don’t ever have to do it again…ever!  Here are the boards laid out after i have applied the stain to the top.

House Wk 39: Merbau Decking - Bubbly!

Once the stain has been on the board for 30 minutes or so what is going to sink in has and it’s time to wipe the excess off and allow the wood to begin drying.  Be careful what type of rags you use as a) if it has fuzzies they will be permanently left behind on your wood and b) after this it’s going in the trash (no favorite dish towels please).  I found painters cloths to work well and my father swears by microfiber cloths.  Oh, almost forgot, wear GLOVES!  THis stuff will totally eat your hands, even the eco friendly ones.  When they called them “green” they must have been thinkin of piranhas!

House Wk 39: Merbau Decking - Removing the excess stain

Once you get the excess off its back to waiting, something i have found i spend a lot of time doing with this house.  I gave each side the full day with applying the stain by 10am and then leaving them to dry in the sun until i brush my teeth for bed about 10pm, only doing a single side each day.  It has taken four sessions, but they look great and haven’t stuck to each other once!  Here is a shot of a board in the sun after it has dried for a few days from the stain.  Pretty yellow flecks…

House Wk 39: Merbau Decking Stained

House Week 38: Researching for the Right Planks for the Front Porch

Yep, it’s a real house all weather tight and i have officially moved in!!!  YEA!!!!!!!  Weather tight is actually more important then you may think here right now with our sideways rain and shooter marble sized hail.  Another thing that is tremendously important is solid ground, and well it’s about time i move on from the ever so trendy plywood porch to something a bit more traditional, like wood planks maybe?  So off to the wood planks place (Ashby Lumber) i went to find some wood…

The weekend consisted of researching the ever burdening question “What kind of material should i buy?”  While this sounds easy, it’s actually tricky since there are tons of products out right now that are really only made to last a few years.  Crazy huh!  Who’d want to spend all of the time laying boards down for their porch to only do it a few years again?  Well the answer is no one.  Most of these products are marketed to people who want to do something cheap and don’t care for one reason or another, usually they either are already selling the place and just want to spruce it up or they are planning to soon and would like to get a ouple of extra dollars.  I narrowed it down to a couple of different products.

First was Trex, which is made of “recycled materials”.  I hate it when things refuse to tell you what they are made of…it’s just lame!  So that was one ding, and they were eliminated as a choice when i found out that it is not recommended to place the boards in direct sunlight.  Ummm, that is silly!  From speaking with others who have it installed it seems to hold heat a bit too well so the surface becomes ridiculously hot to the touch which would so not work with my need to be barefoot all year.

Second was Merbau, which is a super hard wood which for this product is grown sustainably in the tropical Asia-Pacific region and was promised to not burn my feet, yea!  The wood has a soft brown grain with streaks of yellow highlights giving it a fantastic depth.  The product has a 50 year lifespan, which then you can turn it over and use the other side so 100 years in total.  Another bonus, something i only have to do once not matter how long i live.  It wasn’t cheap, but it did not break the bank either, decision made, time to go pick it up.

House Week 37: Back to Stripping … Paint

There is a never ending amount of items original to the house that i have been stripping 90 years of paint off of since last year, and unfortunately the pile has not visibly shrunk.  With the trim going up around the windows in the front of the house it is imminent that the actual windows themselves will need to be ready for installation.  With the world thinking all of the rain needs to fall now and in Berkeley i took advantage of a break in the storms to attempt to strip the two fixed windows that will be set in the living room as i will not have time to finish all of them before they go up, and well it seems to make sense to focus on the ones that will be nailed in place…right?

Stripping paint is definitely not a strenuous job (like laying a porch), but where it lacks in strength it makes up for in time.  Lots of time!  Most of stripping is waiting, testing, waiting some more, and then waiting just a bit longer still, and THEN going at the object scraping and swirling with steel wool trying to loosen as much as possible before you start the whole thing over again.  I have found a relatively earth friendly brand of paint stripper i like, Citristrip, which has a super pleasant odor of oranges and lemons so it’s not so bad during all of the waiting while i read.  Also it works…watch!

So here are the 90 year old windows i focused on in all of their 7+ layers of paint glory…

House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, in the beginning

House Wk 37: Fixed window edge that has never touched paint     House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, all of the layers

So here’s the steps…

  1. After i got the windows out and setup in a shady spot i gave them a damp dusting, not too wet, just enough to break through the dirt/dust (and cobwebs) that has been accumulating on them since they came out of the house a year ago.
  2. Once they were clean i used a dry cloth to make sure to remove any remaining water or dust.  They have to be *dry* for the stripper to work.
  3. Time to glob on the stripping gel.  I just open the jug and pour in over the surfaces sparsely and then go back over it with a paint brush to distribute evenly.  I think the directions say to put it in a can and brush in on from there… (but we all know i hate directions!)  The trick seems to be a good even layer nearly a 1/16'” thick over the entire surface to ensure good coverage.  This is one of those times that more is totally better.  Also note that if you have metal hardware on whatever you are stripping, like the casement hinges on the windows, you can remove or leave on and the stripper will help clean them up too, no damage
  4. Time to wait!  I give them about two hours before i even poke at them…
  5. You will need to test an area to see if they are ready yet, but i wait a minimum of two hours AND look for the tell tale sign of the paint curling together.  No curls or bubble, it’s not done.  If it’s dry and there are none, add another coat to help restore the moisture levels so the stripper can get back to work.
  6. Once you have the ripples test a corner using a plastic scraper (metal at you own risk, i totally learned this the hard way with an ugly scratch on the glass).  You should get a good couple of layers off at a time.
  7. While it would be nice, this is not a single coat type thing.  For my crazy hundred layers it took two passes, which is nothing!  So from here depending up how much paint you got off repeat steps 3 through 6 at least once more and and many times as necessary to get close to the wood.  Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t all come through, we have something else for that. 
  8. Once you have *most* of the paint off time to move over to the Mineral Spirits and Steel Wool.  Unfortunately this is something that stinks to the high heavens.  There are “Green” and “Odorless” ones, which i used, but they are definitely not odorless!  Be sure this is done outside or somewhere you and nothing else will be for at least a day.  Pour a sparing amount of mineral spirits directly onto the wood and scrub at the remaining paint.  I started with “00” pads and they worked great without scratching up the glass and metal.
  9. Keep working with adding more mineral spirits and changing out your steel wool pads once they are full of paint (remember they have two sides!).  I used an old rag to help clean off the areas as i finished them.

And here are the windows after a full day…

House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, windows...the end     House Wk 37: Stripping Paint, DONE!!!

Aren’t they fantastic!  I am super impressed and can’t wait to see them up in the house!!!  Which will mean i can move in :)

House Week 35 & 36: Trimming the Windows and Entry Doors

Now that there is a bit of paint over the interior walls and ceiling in the east side of the house it is starting to feel more and more like a real house.  One addition i decided it was time to get moving on was some trimmings around the windows to help finish off their look and really bring the house back to the 20’s.  I found a fantastic Wood Worker, John Kraft (who does not have a website, so message me for his contact info if you are looking for an amazing carpenter).  We were put in touch though Belmont Hardware when i decided that chiseling out the front door to enlarge the mortise area was a bit beyond my skill-set, a realization that occurred in the form of dreams where i put a giant hole in the front door and spent the next two months looking for one that was the same size.

After getting through getting locks onto the doors we discussed a couple of options for casements around the doors and windows and decided to go with a relatively flat look that has a small bead of wood along the header intersection to help break up the to portion of openings and give them a bit of grace.  Aren’t they fantastic?!?!?!?!

House Wk 35: Bathroom Windows Trimmed

House Wk 35: Window Head Casing Detail   House Wk 35: Window Apron Profile

House Wk 35: Front Door Trimmed     House Wk 35: Front Door Trimming Detail

Most of the windows are complete along with all of the exterior doors.  The interior doors will follow in a few months once the floor is in place to ensure the casings are flush with the floor with the exception of the bathroom door which has been hung to give everyone a bit of privacy within my still totally a construction zone home.

My very first Housewarming gift!

This is totally my kind of neighborhood. There is a bbq down the way with bicycles locked up to every pole on the street and I was just given an amazingly tasty loaf of Banana bread...my favorite!!! It is super nice to feel this house thing really is all worth it.

House Week 34: It’s a dusty job, but someone’s gotta do it … Dusting the walls to prep for paint

Now that the drywall is up, mudded, and sanded it’s time for me to get to work clearing out all of this drywall dust from the walls and ceiling so i can get the drywall sealed with primer and move onto the fun real decorating portion of the home owning.  You would think that this would be a super fast thing to do, but drywall dust is a tricky little buggar.  The dust is super fine and it seems to evade all types of cleaning cloths.  The project was begun using plain old terry cloths rags and a ladder which drained not just my patience but also all of my energy.  It is super annoying to rub in circles on the ceiling removing drywall dust at the speed for a square foot every 20 minutes.  So i turned to the all shortcut knowing internet to assist me in speeding things up…there had to be a better way.

The better way was found deeply rooted in a message board post about cleaning up drywall to prep for paint where someone mentioned Swiffer dusting cloths.  Normally i would have shied away from such and un-eco friendly method, but the terry cloth rags were so full of dust i wasn’t going to be able to wash them either so it seemed like a worth while trade to give the Swiffer cloths a try so out came a box i have had for many years to give it a try.  The results were an entire ceiling in 20 minutes.  It was a very nice change!!!  After depleting the box i ventured out in search of more of these magical drywall dust removers to finish the work and returned endowed with 15 boxes (running out would have been annoying).

The rest of the house went smoothly and i have decided sticks with rags on the end rock!  All of the walls and ceilings are dust free and in only four evenings after work, not bad.  Unfortunately the “tower of towels” was thrown away before the documentation ceremony could occur so i leave you to imagine what a nearly two foot tall stack of dust laden Swiffer cloths stacked in a slightly leaning tower looks like.

Helping out in the NeverNever

Sometimes the ads in the BART stations have an instantaneous giggle producing effect on me...enter the fairy assistance ad. Getting a couple dollars off for checking in somewhere or status on a scoreboard is cool, but assisting fairies in modding their bodies is much more intriguing. I wonder if there is a chart to track the fairy morphing progress? Or if I could pick the fairies to assist or meet them and determine the wing type and shape. I think I may need new wings myself ; )

House Week 33: I have to install how many switches???

Now this may only be a 1200 sq foot home, but i think it has enough electrical plugs, switch, and lights for a 4 floor hospital!  Luckily it’s super easy to install new duplex outlets, so there it begins.

I managed to race through the standard duplex outlet plugs installing all 35 in less than a day.  It basically entailed stripping half and inch off of each of the wires, bending them into a slight loop, pulling the loop over the screw on the outlet, tightening the screw and attaching to the wall…with more screws!  Piece of cake!  Then it was onto the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters).  These are the fancy ones that trip at the switch when they are overloaded.  In 2010 these were required anywhere with “water”, so the bathroom and kitchen counters all required these special plugs.  The special plugs were very special in price (1500% more than standard plugs), but extremely easy to install as they had the screws to attach the wires to like the standard outlets, but you can also wire them by inserting the stripped wire into the back of the outlet and setting the screw.  No need to try to keep the little buggar in place and following orders.  As there were three in the bathroom and four in the kitchen this rounded out a morning while waiting for my latest building inspection, sign off for power!!!

From the plugs i moved onto the switches.  I found some fantastic push button switches with an inlay of mother of pearl at Rejuvenation (where all my gorgeous lights are coming from).  Very similar to what the house would have had when it was built in 1920 they were also a critical style detail for me.  They sell all of the basic “types” of switches in picture below right to left.:

  • Single Pole – These are singularly responsible for turning things on and off and have a single mother of pearl inlay on a button
  • 3-Way – These share the responsibility with another switch somewhere else to turn on/off the light(s), these have mother of peal inlays in the top and bottom buttons as both are live
  • Dimmer – These come in both single pole and 3-way versions, unique here these have a “button” for the top portion of the switch and a turn knob in the bottom to control the brightness of the light, there are even different wattages 300 or 600!

House Wk 33: The Basics

I have most of the switches in, but a few will have to wait until my final inspection as there are building codes about what kinds of switches you need in laundry rooms and bathrooms, which is lame.  Oh well, lame doesn’t mean i don’t h ave to do it…so off to find occupancy light switches i go!  Here are a few receptacles attachment pictures.

House Wk 33: Plain old Cheap Duplexes   House Wk 33: Screwing Wires   House Wk 33: Fancy Dancy GFCI's

House Week 31 & 32: No love lost in saying goodbye to an old friend … the portable toilet has been removed from my front yard!!!

Over the holidays both us and the tile guys worked towards a single goal of finishing in the floor in the bathroom.  So what’s so important about the floor you ask?  Well the floor needed to be finished to set the toilet, which has been in my living room for 7 months, but more importantly once there is a toilet the portable toilet in my front yard would get to go away!!!

Not surprising the motivation was right and i’m happy to say the toilet was set before the new year.  The Shower walls and floors are completely done and beautiful.  I’m so impressed at how well everything is coming together.  Well here are the pretty pictures…  Someday i may even get a bathroom door ; )

House Wk 32: Bathroom with Toilet!!!

House Wk 32: Bathroom Floor

House Wk 32: Finish Grouted Shower