Saturday, November 30, 2013

Late Night Walk

Providence Skyline at Night

Me Calling the Number on the Sign that Said:

I Guess they mean it...

We decided to take a break from eating left overs and drove into Providence last night to see the movie Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey at our favorite theater the Avon ( which is located on Thayer Street street on the East side. Anyone who is familiar with the area knows that it has great restaurants large and small along with a number of shops that cater for the most part to the college crowd in Providence. This always makes parking a bit dicey so we parked in our favorite not well known about parking lot a few blocks away. The one with the signs that stated if you park here we will tow you. We knew the signs were just a threat because we had parked there for years and the lot was always full and no one was ever towed.

I guess things have changed. When we arrived at the lot, it was apparent that new brighter lights had been installed and the lot was empty except for one car. So I parked right under one of the lights thinking this is a great spot. As we’re walking away congratulating ourselves about how smart we were to find this off the beaten path parking spot, we figured the lot was empty because everyone was home for Thanksgiving. If only.

Walking back after the movie, which I enjoyed (9 out of 10), we yakked about the movie and what we liked and didn’t like. The night air was 28 degrees and cold enough to make you shiver. Well me mostly because I wore a light jacket unlike my much smarter better half who was dressed for the cold. As we rounded the corner to our parking spot I was thinking how nice and bright the parking lot is now with the new… “hey, where’s my car?” It was gone the lot was empty. And it isn’t big like the lots at Disney so I knew I didn’t go to the wrong spot. Crap. It was towed. And right on that new light pole where my car used to be was a sign that basically said, “If you park here…” The sign I never saw and probably would have ignored anyways.

So we called the number on the sign that they were nice enough to leave and were given walking directions to the car jail and “Oh by the way, you’ll need $138 to bail it out. Cash only.” How convenient. I was in the bank parking lot where there was an ATM. They planned this well I thought.

So we set off in the direction of the tow company which was fortunately a little over a mile away. Me in my light coat. My better half in her nice warm coat. I did my best to laugh about it given there wasn’t much else that I could do. We walked down the streets and across a dark interchange and park which is under construction with the walkway guided only by some plastic netting to keep the drunks from falling in the mud. And over the river like the Goldilocks absent the woods. It was here that my humor went down a bit. The wind was whipping up the river. It was cold. I had a on a light jacket. My car was waiting for me to dig deeply into my wallet to bail it out. In the middle of the bridge my better half stopped and said “Let’s stand here and admire how pretty the Providence skyline is at night. When will we ever get to do this again?” I’m like “Really?” Yup, really. “Really?” “Uh huh.” So we did. I must be going to heaven.

After walking some more and bailing out my car later, I just laughed. It was an expensive night. But I had good company, we saw a good movie had a nice walk and got to admire the Providence skyline at night. What could be better?

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kitchen Unwrapped

Kitchen - Living Room Side
Drawer Microwave in the small L

Kitchen - Outside Wall

Kitchen - Looking from the Dining Room

Beginning the Install

It was raining like crazy outside

Looking Towards the Dining Room

The Stove will be in the Middle on this Wall

Doors Ready to go up

Upper Cabinets

My Cran-Apple Pie (made under direction)
HT - Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Today is the day where we give thanks with family and friends for what we have and we do it with food, lots of food. So much food in fact that I think in the old days it would have actually been called a feast. And we stuff ourselves silly. But there always seems to be room for pie.

In the spirit of this food, family and friends centric day, I’m going to tell you about our new kitchen. And here’s my disclaimer, everywhere we I say “we”, I really mean for the most part “my better half” because this was the hardest job that I haven’t had to do.

When we were first going to remodel the other house we started working with a Kitchen & Bath place in RI who will remain unnamed for reasons to follow. We felt comfortable at first were getting some good ideas. When we decided to build new, Meridian (our builder) suggested that we use a designer that they use frequently. However, we had already put down a $1,000 deposit and didn’t want to give that up so we stuck with the company we were using. And it wasn’t long before we were feeling very stuck. Our designer was frequently late for appointments and even missed them altogether. The few times I went with my better half it was painfully obvious that no work had been done on the design since the last appointment. Months were passing. Confusion reigned. The wrong drawings would be emailed to us and often the designs were not updated with new requests and ideas. We were getting dangerously behind in our timeline. It was fast becoming a nightmare.

On a whim, my now frustrated better half went over and met with Lisa Riley from Riley Kitchen & Bath in Bristol, RI ( see what she might suggest. This was the same company that Meridian had recommended when we started designing the new house. It was such a good experience that a few hours later after some discussion we decided to walk away from the first company (and our deposit) and start over. What a difference. Lisa spent the time going over kitchen ideas with my better half and made design recommendations that we liked and incorporated into the overall design. She is a true professional with significant design experience and always made sure that our drawings were always up to date and reflected what we were looking for. I think the true measure of a company is when asked if you would use them again. Our answer would be a resounding yes!

For those that like the details, the cabinets are Waypoint ( with the 650F door style in Maple Cream Glaze (sounds like ice cream doesn’t it?). We’re still undecided about the draw pulls and knobs. Probably another decision I’ll need to just go “uh huh” to.
Truthfully, I have had little to do with the kitchen planning. I know my place. The only thing I asked for was one of those cool drawer microwaves. It's stupidly expensive but I'm getting it. I've never liked the over the stove microwaves because of the height and the potential for spilling hot food. My last house had one installed and I found the built in vent and lighting to be just passable. I'm not sure that anyone has designed a combination of the two that works really well. That's why we're going with a separate vent. And a cool microwave in a drawer. 

It’s fantastic to see drawings turn into reality. The house is up. The walls are up. The plumbing is installed. The wires are run. The doors are swinging. And our kitchen is being installed. Things are really moving along rapidly.

But even as thankful as we are for the work and those that helped get us there, we are also thankful for our families and the many friends we have made across the years and even on this blog. Because at the end of the day, they are what life is really about. 

Please remember those in need and less fortunate than us during these holidays. Because that completes why we are here to begin with.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Trim Work Continues & Other Work Begins

Cutting the Trim in the Living Room Shop

The Stairs to the Room Over the Garage Have been Installed
They look great!

White Oak Treads

The Crown Molding Breaks up the High Wall Nicely
LED tape lights will provide nice up lighting.

Windows Trimmed out and Crown Molding in the Dining Room
The Orange Paint outlines the Stone Wall and Walkway
Stone Veneer will Wrap the Garage wall

A Load of Processed Material being Delivered
Boxes of Kitchen Cabinets in the Kitchen

And more in the Dining Room
The trim work continues. All the interior doors have been hung and working smoothly. Crown molding has been wrapped around the Dining Room and three quarters of the Living Room. With the high walls the crown molding breaks it up nicely. We left the wall opposite the fireplace without the crown molding to give the impact of a high wall. Sort of like having two rooms in one. I suggested to my better half that down the road we could put LED tape lights along the backside of the molding to give an up light effect. She liked the idea. When I then added that we could also set it up to have changing colors like red, and green and white and have them change every ten seconds or so, she commented that now would be a good time to stop.
While the trim work was going on in the inside, outside I met with the Mason, Mike Carpenter from Stone Age Masonry ( to go over plans for the stone wall alongside the driveway as well as installing stone veneer on the garage wall. We had originally planned to slope the side area and put in granite stairs. But like with any plan, the more my better half I talked about the different possibilities the more we liked the idea of a stone wall. We also wanted to cover up the unappealing concrete wall on the garage so we’ve decided to have it covered with a stone veneer.
I had planned on building a nice stone patio and walkway next year on the garage side of the house near the kitchen, but never having enough weekends and knowing how much outside work we’ll be doing next year, we’re obtaining quotes from Mike for doing the work instead.  He’s already provided some really good ideas and we’re glad he’s doing our masonry work. JM Equipment also dropped off a load of processed material for use in the work. They are a busy company and dropping off the material was really appreciated. It's companies like this that keep things moving along.
In the middle of all of this, the kitchen cabinets were delivered. This calls for a big YAY! I’m not sure when they’ll start the install but just having them on site is huge progress. And with Thanksgiving coming up this week it seems appropriate.
Enjoy your week.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Starting the Interior Trim

Trim and Stair Parts

Doors, Doors & Doors

Master Bedroom Entrance & Closet Doors

Hallway Closet

Bedroom Closet Sliding Doors

The Living Room is also the Workshop

Deep Window Sills

Door Casement

Trimmed out Window

Before the skim coat of plaster had even finished drying the interior doors, trim and stairs were delivered. It was exciting to see the doors and boxes because that meant we really were heading towards completion.
Within a few days the trim work contractor ( D.E. Zeilstra, ) arrived and starting installing the doors and window trim. I was happy to see that the sills on the windows were deeper than some contractors use. Of course I didn’t measure it but I guess the best comparison I can give is that it will hold a Christmas window candle nicely without fear of it being knocked off. The trim around the windows and doors is also wider then you see in some homes. It’s the little things that make a difference.
Doors can be difficult to install and this is where the quality of the work really counts. On my last house I had removed a couple of doors, frames and all, and they were a nightmare to reinstall. Of course if I had left the trim on one side it would have been easier. But I didn’t know that at the time.
Thank God I’m not doing these.  I had a chance to meet the owner of the trim company and after I went room to room trying all the doors I said to him “people will never notice a door that fits right but they will never forget a door that doesn’t.”
These guys are doing a great job.
Enjoy your week.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Plaster - It's a Wrap!

Living Room - North Wall
It's not that dark. Just a weak flash.

Living Room - Looking towards the back yard

Living Room - Towards the Kitchen
Living Room - Looking towards the Front Door

Master Bedroom
Kitchen from the Dining Room

Kitchen - Looking into the Dining Room

Dining Room

From This
Skylight in Stairway to Room Over Garage
To This - Look how smooth it is
Garage Side wall

Garage Ceiling

The plasters worked like crazy over a couple of days and now have completed their work. All of the walls and ceilings have a coat of plaster that is so smooth it feels like a tabletop. And to think, they did it all without sanding. Not a bit. There wasn’t a single sheet of sandpaper to be found anywhere Me? I’m pretty sure if I did it no amount of sanding would match their craftsmanship. And I’d be doing that until next summer. They were so neat about the work, laying paper on the floors and covering the outside doors to protect them from gobs of plaster. It was almost like they were never there. You’ve got to admire their skill.
Every time another trades person completes their work, the house takes on a bit more character and gets closer to being our home. I think we’re heading down the home stretch.
Next up. Inside finish work.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lawn Mower Friend

A New Friend

Man is known to have a lot of friends. Dogs, beer, buddies, boats and so on. All of them equally important and all get in the way of chores that we're supposed to be doing instead of having fun. However, I think I need to elevate a new one. The lawn mower.
Along the way when we combined houses I declared that there was no longer any need to have somebody come in and cut the grass because we can save money if I took care of it. Of course I would need a good lawn mower because my John Deere tractor was over at the other house (the one with a dirt yard). So I hunted around on Craigslist looking for a self-powered Honda that I've wanted for years. Now, truthfully, when it comes to push mowers, I usually buy the cheap model with the knowledge that they usually break down sooner or later as they seem to have a built in short life. So I never change the oil, treat the gas or sharpen the blades. The one I have now from my old house is six years old. It sounds like it's running on half a piston and blows smoke like crazy when it first starts. But it won't die. I've used it over at the house being built with the dirt yard when it wasn't all dirt to keep the grass down to jungle height.
But being a guy and seeing an opportunity, I told my better half that we're going to need a really good lawn mower for the new house. She gave me that look that only a wife can do, you know the one where their eyes get squinty, they cock their head look at you out of the corner of their eye and you know their brain is thinking "he's scamming." And I was. But I had her convinced that we needed this Cadillac of push mowers and we might as well get it now. So I found one on Craigslist that I had to travel about an hour and half for but it was a great deal. Even more so after I got the price down even lower. This is a Honda Model HRX 217 self-propelled mower. And it's great. It starts with one pull and moves along effortlessly while bagging grass clippings like a charm. Mulching is as simple as shifting a lever. I've never had a better push mower.
And this is where the new best friend part comes in. One day, after I had put off cutting the grass longer than I should have, my better half decided that she would give it a shot while I was out.  She discovered (and so did I) that she enjoyed the way the lawn mower cut the grass and found that she didn't mind doing it. At first I would feign insult that I wanted to cut the grass and would throw out that phrase that every women hates by saying "It's a man's job." Heh heh. That always works. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction…
I had her hooked. More often than not she would cut the grass this past summer. She even started claiming that she could do a better job than me. It was a competition that I secretly let her win. So now I have to elevate the lawn mower up a bit higher on the friend level.
Who knows, I might even change the oil on this one.
Enjoy your weekend

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


First Coat of Plaster -Staging Everywhere

They Wear Stilts to Reach the Ceiling
They covered the front door (on left) with paper to protect it.

Plastering Over the Screws and Joints

They even laid paper over the rough floor

Living Room

They Used Staging to Reach the Cathedral Ceiling

Dining Room

About ten plasters showed up and immediately went to work laying paper over the rough subfloor. Having the paper over the floor made clean up incredibly easier. With all of the plaster that is dropped during the plastering, they would have had to spend hours scraping the floor. Instead they only had to roll it up and throw it all in the dumpster. They even covered the doors to protect them which I thought was a great idea.

They put the first coat on by covering the screws and the joints that had mesh type put over them. They wore stilts to make it easier to work on the ceiling instead of having to move the step ladder around. In the Living room they set up staging to reach the cathedral ceiling.

The next step will be to do a second coat known as a skim coat completely over all the walls and ceilings. This will give them all a smooth coat.

You know, it’s really starting to look like a real house.

Enjoy your week.