Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cottage Insides

I haven't shown much inside yet but we're making progress. Here's what we saw when I climbed into the house before we bought it.

  Every male I know loved the paneling in the "before" kitchen. We did save a lot of it. It's old pine and has turned a sweet pumpkin color all the way through. May be great for a den wall someday but it wouldn't work for our house. The 2nd picture shows the living room. What the pictures can't show is how it smelled. It was occupied by a crazy cat lady.
With everything ripped to the studs, we could reconfigure. Look at the wood floor in the livingroom. We thought we had hit pay dirt but it was in horrible shape and didn't extend to the kitchen area. Repairs alone would cost more than putting laminate in the whole house.

One of the most exciting days ever was the day we got drywall! Look at the far right of the photo. The little door is the new HVAC. Moving it to this wall means we have an unbroken wall in the kitchen.

 Here's the cabinets and floor. When we put the cabinets in was when I decided I could live here! You can see a few of the "upgrades" we did since we were going to live here and not rent it. We got a microwave/hood and Home Depot took back our white dishwasher and replaced it with a stainless one. It will match my existing fridge and stove that are coming with me to this house.
 If you turn around here is the living room side of this open concept. This is the start of a full wall bookcase. It's 16 feet long and will hold the TV as well as my books. I'm going to have to condense my 30 feet of bookcases down to fit this.

 The other "upgrade" we decided on was granite counter tops. BLHubby and I picked out some tile for the back splash but when I went to get it I got sidetracked to this travertine subway tile. Good think BL Hubby is pretty tolerant of my whims. I don't think you should love anything that can't love you back, so I'm infatuated with these stones.

It's almost to the finish line. I have to seal the tile. We'll get the fridge and stove moved in this weekend. Looks like Dec 1 is move in date!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What I Did This Summer - or - A Cottage Update

So it's been hard to work every spare minute on the Cottage, keep the Etsy Store a little bit stocked and blog. So blogging has suffered. My devoted readers (you kids) have wanted to see some progress. I have been taking pictures so here is "What I did this Summer".
We set the house down on the foundation and framed the floor and walls of the former carport so it could become a new master bedroom and bath. 

Here's the inside looking out. Look at that great floor. Best Loved Hubbs and I did that! And the joists underneath! And those stud walls. 
In framing, we discovered that a previous remodel had removed a load bearing wall between the kitchen and living room which left the roof unsupported and sagging. We beefed up the supporting stud wall and changed the open living room kitchen plan to include a small support wall. 
We got electrical service. This deserved a whole line of exclamation marks because now we didn't have to haul the generator over each work day and we didn't have to work with very loud noise it made. 
Here's the connection at the house. We had a Master Electrician do this connection. Entergy approves it when they hook it up. (No, no inspection other than their supervisor, who's a Master Electrician, approving. We did have our electrician meet with Entergy's engineer so they could plan where the poles and service would go.)

We added sheathing to the outside of the house and doors. We had planned to finish the outside with Hardiboard siding but discovered that vinyl siding was half the price of the Hardiboard and then the Hardiboard needed painted. Switching to vinyl let us replace all the windows. Win Win.  Ask the BL Grandboys how much work is involved in putting up sheathing. They were enormously helpful. We also got new soffits and repaired the eaves where they were rotted or broken. Great to have a youngster when you are working over your head.

In the process we generated a bit of waste. This is the 2nd burn pile (we have another one almost that size that needs to burn) and we've taken 3 trailer loads to the dump.
The old HVAC system was part of one of those dump loads. We removed all the outdated ducting as well as the old gas furnace. There was no AC so we needed a modern heat pump if we want a first rate tenant. It seemed at this point like we are taking more out of the house than we put on it.  

We got rough plumbing. We hired a master plumber to do this. BL Hubby is pretty comfortable with plumbing but there are some codes and calculations to make so we felt it best to hire a pro. We did the same with the "Little House" we did previously. The existing plumbing was almost all removed in moving the house. We kept the bathtub in the existing bathroom but nothing else. The shower in the back is going to be in the new master bath. Went with pecs plastic. The old vents and bits of water pipe left were copper and I salvaged them for $110. Glad to see the cooper go as a lot of homes are damaged by folks who want to steal the cooper. 
This is the future kitchen sink water. Note the new electric plugs. BL Big Boy helped rewire the house. There were three versions of old electric service and we needed it modernized. 
Pipes in the house are no good unless they are attached to water company's pipes. Best Loved Hubby got to rent a big tool and did trenches from the street to the house and then farther up the property to shed that came with the house so that we could have water on the fruit trees and blueberries as well as to the house. 
Before the BL Boys left us they wrapped the house! I found out that this product was invented to help homes be more energy efficient but is now used mostly for a water barrier that helps your house last longer.  The BL Boys made quick work of putting it up. 
All this dirt doesn't look that exciting but it covers a new septic system! Yup, the septic tank is in the front yard. That's where down hill is and we all know what flows downhill.  The white pipe marks the distribution box and our septic guru put it there so we don't drive over it or cover it with a side walk. When all the outside is done it will be removed but there will always be two small green plastic caps in the front yard. Now we have water in, water out but nothing in between. We will need to install sinks, toilets, showers, etc as we finish.  
One of the easiest tasks was putting in the windows. It took BL Hubbs and I only a day to get all of them installed. New windows make the house feel like it is brand new. We used Home Depot's least expensive in stock vinyl windows and because we had no siding it was easy to change window sizes to match what HD had in stock. We used a sticky tar like tape to seal the wrap around the new windows and keep rain from leaking around the windows. 
All this lead up to the best thing ever. We got the siding! We planned to do it ourselves but we discovered a great group of professionals that do small residential drywall, siding, flooring, painting, etc. on the weekends. They did our interior drywall (I'll show you the inside next post) and were so amazing we decided that they should do the exterior and it was a great decision. Three men finished it in one day. Oh, and look at those soffits and eaves. I painted them the lovely white. Lots of caulk and two coats of brightest white plus primer. Hardest part was fitting it in between the rain we got. That and I would work early morning before it got too hot. 
Here's the east side all covered up with lovely vinyl. The gray color was Lowes in stock. I wanted a gray house and BL Hubbs wasn't so sure. I would have painted it darker but the ease of upkeep make both of us happy. 

We still need to finish trim but isn't she pretty? Best day ever! 

I'll post again with the insides. Lots happening there too.  What did you do this summer?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Something New

I've learned to not take custom requests. Oh, I'll change a piggy's shirt from blue to red, or I'll give you one animal, not two - but I get quite a few inquiries that start, "I love your work, can you do  _______?".  It's fraught with peril. I worry so that my vision is nothing like the clients. It also takes me an unreasonably long time to design. Trial and error seems to be my method and I hate to send something out that I'm not in love with.  But. . . I got an email from a lovely mum who had purchased one of my Noah's Arks last year. She was looking for a farm/barn set that used the same size animals as the arks and wondered, "can you do it?"  I just so had a barn in the unpainted state that I'd been thinking of before Christmas.  So I told her I could finish it up for her. Usually our "first editions" go to our own kiddlets.

 Some of you may not know that I have a big helper. The BLHubby does a lot of the building of the basic Ark boat. He also is responsible for the 3 Pigs houses. For some reason I make the 3 Bears houses All the animals and bookends I do all the woodwork. I always do all sanding and of course  the painting. If I could get a helper elf I would put him to work sanding.

 He handles the stuff that is cut on the big mean table saw. For some reason that saw and I don't like each other. It's sad. I"m all for ladies and power tools. I can use most all of them. But I've had a few mishaps with the big saw (kick backs that throw big pieces of wood right at my chest and bend the blades) and I'm a little gun shy. This barn is a good illustration of how BLHubbs and I work together. He works in manufacturing and is all about reproducing things exactly. He thinks about how to cut things out so the wood won't be wasted. When I wanted a barn he calculated angles and roof lines. I then say things like "It's too wide" or "can you do one a little taller?" and he without grumbling too much will do it. We struggled with the roof. It took a bunch of angled cuts to roof it and I didn't like how it looked or felt.  Then I come in and hold a piece of wood against something and think "that's about right" and I cut it out with the scroll saw. If it doesn't fit I sand it down.   I glued some roof "shingles" on the top of BLH's roof and I liked how it turned out.  We work well together.

 This was fun to finish. I've been slow to put it into my regular line up of items but this has been a bit of a struggle to get my head around. I think we'll do some "tweaks" and a few changes. It uses the same size animals as the Noah's Arks but I think a farm needs baby's. I did get some baby piggies.

There are hay bales, well, straw bales, that go with it, too.
 So glad to see this done and off to some little boys.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Updates From The Cottage

We have been working on the Can Do Cottage.  The big blue box delivered a load of cement blocks so that our favorite brick layer could build a foundation for the house to set on.
We were glad to wait for him and his crew. He did our previous move on house and we can't say enough about how professional and how perfect and level his foundations are. He uses this device often to make sure that the blocks are perfectly level and plumb. 
We had requested the foundation be about four blocks high on the highest edge, and the foundation crew had to even it out all around. On one corner the blocks are only about two and a half blocks high. They had to build around the iron beams the are still holding up the house. 
They also had to build piers under the house to hold it up at critical points. 
They left with a beautiful, straight foundation. We called our house movers who came out the next day and set the house down on the foundation.  They jacked it up a tiny bit, removed the pilings the beams were setting on and then set it down - corner by corner. 

This house had lost most of it's bottom sills when it was removed from it's foundation, so we had to add some 2 x 10 pressure treated boards to the top of the foundation to replace them.
The house has a carport that's completely under the roof and at the back there is a small storage room. It's only single wall construction and had a washer and dryer in it and a lot of water damage. This part we replaced a bunch of the foundation pieces and our movers took out a vent to make a place for a jack and the  jack supported this area until it could set on the foundation. We know we need to rebuild some of this area which will become part of a new bathroom.
 When it was all set down their winch truck hooked up the beams and pulled them out.
Our little house has touched down and home for good.  Off went the support beams it had rested on since it left it's birth place.
Only now could we call our insurance office and tell them we had a house and they could cover it against loss. They couldn't insure it until it was on the foundation.  It's no longer mobil but a house. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Money No Object Monday

The Best Loved Hubby and myself have been enjoying some wonderful visiting. He had to go to So Cal for business, so I tagged along and got to spend some time (not enough) with my parents and sister. We just came home and were blessed with the Best Loved Biggest and her kiddlets (who are determined to refute the kiddlet label).  Good times all around.

Even with all this fun I found some covetable dolls. Elizabeth Pongratz is a doll artist and manufacturer in Germany.  She and her husband make a few hand carved and painted wooden dolls each year.
Elizabeth Pongratz dolls/ private collector
 They are usually about 14" tall and their limbs are jointed with a unique spring joint unique to these dolls. Their hair is made of mohair or human hair. There are babies, too. They are usually soft bodied with painted hair.
Elizabeth Pongratz dolls/private collector
I am so in love with them. They are exquisitely designed to be played with but I doubt that any child is ever gifted with one as they cost more than a used pick up.
Blonde Girl in Light Blue
A site called "The Toy Shoppe" has several current ones for sale. This beauty in blue can be yours for $2750. They will make payment arrangements. Babies are less.
Awake Baby in Pink
The above baby is seven inches in length and has a body made of cloth filled with sand so she has some "heft". She's only $625. "The Toy Shoppe" will ship for free is your purchase is over $100.
Ebay has a few dolls listed.  The one below is sweet and can be had for under $1900. 
Ebay listing - starting bid $1700, Buy it Now $1900
The dolls often are dressed in hand knitted outfits, like the one above and usually have one piece knitted underwear that's so sweet. 
Ebay listing shown above
I am so torn by the fact that these beauties, built for play, are too desirable to be put in the hands of children. The Best Loved Baby Boy commented a while ago that in 20 years, no child would be allowed to play with my Noah's Arks due to their being valued too precious for kids. I would be so sad if that were so. One of my favorite buyers (who bought not just an Ark but a Three Pigs Set, also) wrote to let me know that she loved thinking of her son's grandchildren playing with them.  We got a chuckle when one of the Best Loved SIL's was so protective of the Grand girls American Girl Doll because it was so expensive. One of these would give him a heart attack. Would you let your child have one of these?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Signs of Spring

It's been a long gloomy winter but there are some sure signs of spring. This little guy was given full access to pick the daffodils.
He was dressed for the occasion. A real boy needs a coon skin hat while picking daffys.  (He is from Kentucky).
The bucket was his own invention. A great holder of flowers. Yes, the grandmas put them in vases just cause he got them for us.  If that isn't proof enough of spring in the air-

Found this little mommy in the parking lot at the BLHubbs place of industry. I'm reluctant to say that I felt compelled to look up what kind of birdy she was. Why would I be reluctant? Two of my darling sisters are "birders". Hard core birders. Like, keep life lists and travel to different continents to see more birds kind of birders. Me, never so much. But, I have been gifted with the "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" just in case I should be tempted to "bird".
S & J would be proud to know that I know this little bird is a Killdeer. She's a little south of what the Field Guide says her nesting area is but not by much. I'm a little sad that she chose to nest so close to the cars (I could have hit her nest with my car door) but it was a treat to see her and her pretty, camo eggs.