Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Wonders!

This last weekend was HEAVENLY!!!  The temperature soared up into the 60s!!  And that meant that life seemed livable again!

We finally got the desk set up in the office---the computer had been sitting on a wobbly folding table in the kitchen all these months.  But we found the hardware and put the big desk all back together again.  It was a bit like putting Humpty Dumpty back together again---and weirdly, we had 4 screws leftover....hopefully it won't all fall down!

With a little more work, we can make this room look nice!  We've never had an official "office" room before.  So that is kind of fun!  We probably should have painted and fixed the whole room before moving the desk in---but we needed to get things settled--and I quickly painted behind where the heavy furniture would sit and will paint around it soon!  Is it weird that I want to keep the 90's era wall paper border?

The weather was SO nice, we had to get some steaks and BBQ!  It felt positively brilliant to be doing something OUTSIDE!

Scott bought me lovely bright and happy flowers---that made it feel even more like Spring!

With our new energy boost from the warm weather, we got motivated and moved ALL the rest of the boxes and furniture out of the garage!  A lot to go through and put away!  But we are finally officially MOVED IN!

The sunset Sunday night was BEAUTIFUL!  There are still great heaps of snow in places where it drifted into deep piles, but grass is showing through all over the place!

Friday, March 28, 2014

One More Fix and DONE!

When last we left the Snack Bar Pancake Bar (as per my children's new input!) we had the appliances and flooring installed and nothing had fallen down.  But there was one more thing that needed fixing!

Part of the laminate counter top was missing.  Probably came loose at some point and was just ripped off.  But since we were bothering to make this kitchenette look all nice and tidy and since we didn't want to replace the counter top with expensive granite---at least not any time soon---it only made sense that we should try to fix it up and make it look better.

I thought about using some laminate from where we cut the hole bigger for the cook top.  But it wasn't wide enough.  I thought about using the laminate from the sides where the refrigerator goes, but it was too skinny on one side and too short on the other.  I thought about stealing laminate from the backsplash--but then I would need to tile the whole back wall.  I thought about getting out my oil paints and trying to paint it to match....

Then as happens when something is too difficult to figure out, I stopped thinking about it!!  And I began to think what I could do with this open space to the right of the refrigerator.  It is a very deep counter space and above it, it goes all the way up to the ceiling.  It seemed like wasted space and I wanted to figure out a way to make it useful.  A bookshelf?  Could I build one in there?

It is on the carpeted side of this kitchen area.  And lends itself well to being part of the family room more than part of the bar.  But I was worried that if I added even more weight to that one support that was holding up the top cabinets, it would be disastrous!

Enter...THE CUBE!

I looked all over the internet for bookshelves or cube storage that would have the right measurements to fill the space.  Lucky for me?  The winner was Ikea!  And we have an Ikea right here in Minneapolis!

It was finger and hand intensive to get them all assembled!  (Only 3 blisters!)

But when I was done, they filled the space PERFECTLY!  And I like playing the black color against the wood tones in the room!  The cook top and refrigerator had already added a touch of black.

Now, do you notice something missing?!?

That's right!!  In order for the cube storage to fit snug against the back wall---something needed to be removed!

And that something was JUST what I needed!!

With a little persuasion, the backsplash came right off!

I patched the holes....

Caulked the gap....and painted!

Then it was time to use my new found booty to make my other repair!  In order to pull laminate up, all you have to do is iron it!  (That's also all you have to do to stick it down!  If the contact cement is still there---a good ironing will stick it right back down again!)

After a bit of warming it up with the iron---the edge could be pried up.

Pretty soon I had a whole big piece pried off!

When it was long enough to cover my missing piece, I stopped and cut it off.

It would need trimming down to be exactly the right width...

and length!

I would need to cut the remaining laminate on the counter to be a straight edge...

Then heat it with the iron to remove the little broken bit.

Once I had a nice straight edge and a piece of the new laminate cut to just the right size, it was time to apply new contact adhesive to both sides.  What was left on the old pieces wasn't enough to stick it down with just ironing.

I used a spray-on kind.  It also comes in a tub where you paint it on.

The spray came out like spider webbing all over the back of the laminate piece!

I taped off and masked the area on the counter that would be getting the adhesive.

When the adhesive has dried to tacky---about 2 minutes---you put the two surfaces together and it is an instant hold!  With very little room for moving it.  After a bit of wrangling, I was able to get the replacement piece into place!

It isn't perfect---and there is still a line---but if you didn't know, you would never notice that anything was ever amiss!

Time to start filling the shelves with books and decorating a little!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ghost Swans!

They came back!  Those Ghost Swans!  And I was finally able to steal their photograph!

Afraid they would fly away as soon as they saw me, I started snapping pictures as soon as I got out of the car.

As I walked closer to them, I knew I was still on land because there was a telephone pole.  Grass is not always an it grows up out of the marshes.  And since I'm deathly afraid of falling through the ice---I kept my distance.

But there they are!!! Seven beautiful Trumpeter Swans!

Trumpeter Swans are the heaviest bird native to North America and the largest living species of water fowl!  They are positively REGAL!

Canadian Geese are quite large---but you can see how dwarfed they look next to the swans!

I came up right next to the edge of the frozen lake.  But going any further was against my instincts.

This boat-heater-waterchurning thingy was making thin ice and I couldn't tell where that thin ice would begin and end.

I snapped a few more photos of the beautiful creatures....

Then I noticed that all the birds had turned to look in one direction.  Were they facing into the wind?  To keep from getting their feathers ruffled?  Or was it.....

THIS!!!  An ice fisherman---complete with truck and trailer zooming out onto the frozen lake!

The temperature was above freezing yesterday....but apparently the lake was still amazingly strong!

He drove clear out into the middle of the lake---way past the signs warning of thin ice---way past the swans and geese.  Stopped his big truck and trailer and set up camp!

I cannot get used to this.  Lakes frozen so solid that big trucks with trailers can safely drive over them.  It is the end of March---and just in case this fisherman was wrong---I quickly got in my car and drove away.  I didn't want to see him fall through the ice.  I didn't want to have to run out over the ice to try to save him.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raising the Bar!

Our Money Pit Beautiful New House, came with a very large family room and a full scale bar!  Since we don't drink alcohol at all, we've decided to call it the "Snack Bar!"  And since it is an integral part of our family room---we had to find ways to fix it up and make it look nice.

Here is what it looked like when we moved in.  I kind of liked the fake burled wood laminate counter.  But the cook top was very old and the knobs were broken off and only one burner worked.  The cabinets sagged in the middle--like they were starting to fall down.  There was a spot for a refrigerator, but it was missing.  If you look near the floor of the cabinets, you can see a rough-hewn 2x8 board as the bottom wall below the cabinets.  Originally, we think they rolled the carpet up this wall to meet the bottom of the cabinetry.  But we weren't interested in carpet rolling up the walls!  There is also a bit of laminate missing from the side of the counter.  So we had a substantial amount of work to do!

Another original photo---showing how integral this snack bar is to the family room as whole.

The very first thing we did was to lay flooring in the "kitchen" area of the bar.  It seemed silly to have carpet below a sink and cook top!  You can still see the long fibers dangling from the previous carpeting that went up the wall here.

The flooring went down rather quickly.

And made a much more appropriate floor choice for that area.  But what to do on that wall below the cabinets?!?

Once the carpet was laid...

and we started moving furniture in....we sort of forgot about the bar for a while.  It didn't look too badly and we really had no idea how we were going to fix it up right.  So we ignored it.

But the brain continues working on problems even when we aren't conscious of it!

And one day, while perusing my favorite home store--something we've done a LOT this winter--I came across this lovely product!  Paintable wallcovering!  It was the perfect solution!  Thick enough to smooth out the rough bits of the 2 x 8 board and yet paint-able to match the rest of the family room walls!

I cut it the right width.  Rolled it up and got it wet and then "booked" it so that the paste would get all nice and sticky.

Then I carefully smoothed it on to our board below the cabinetry.  It was just the right thickness---as the cabinets came nearly flush with the 2 x 8 board.  We knew we could install baseboards to trim it out nicely.

We bought a new cook top and refrigerator to finish out the area.  But since nothing is easy at our house....

The cook top was slightly bigger than the old one, so we had to carefully saw out a bigger hole in the laminate.  We also discovered that the entire counter was not held up at the back and we had to reinforce it with 1x2s.  Luckily we could do that while the cook top was out.  How did we know the counter wasn't held up by anything at the back?  Well, let me begin....

Remember how I told you that the upper cabinets all sagged in the middle?  Well, they sagged SO much that they were a 1/2 inch lower on one side of where the refrigerator was supposed to fit.  We got the smart idea of using a car jack to raise them up so that we could slip the new refrigerator in under them and then it would help hold up the cabinets!  But when we jacked up the upper cabinets---the counter top started going down!  It was a hilarious scene for a while.  Something out of a 3 Stooges movie---except there were only the two of us!   Things going up!  Things going down!  Worries that everything would break and come tumbling down!  After much ado---we finally got it situated!

Counters reinforced.  Refrigerator in place.  Cook top installed.  It was a lovely scene!

Even the flooring turned out well!  The baseboards were a little trouble---going from carpet to flooring was difficult---it left a gap---until we thought to fill the gap with a little bit of shoe molding.  And that was the perfect thing!

One Snack Bar!  Ready for Service!

What do you think?  Did we "Raise the Bar?!"