Home In Disarray

February 21, 2013

“Fun” with the floor

“Fun” with the floor
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Well, the contractor that’s been working on the floor has been done for a couple weeks now and we’ve been  enjoying the heck out of it.  After constantly inspecting it though, we’ve found a bit of an issue with the grout. It’s cracking in some spots.  As it cracks, it comes out, and then there’s holes.  Based on my research, this happens when grout is mixed incorrectly added to the grout joint being on the larger end of what is deemed acceptable for unsanded grout, and that seemed to do the trick.  I’ve been trying to get ahold of the contractor that did the job for the last couple days but so far no luck.  Otherwise, it really looks beautiful.  It’s just when you get down and look closely at the joints that it’s kind of wonky.

Cracking grout on wood look tile
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Cracking grout on wood look tile

Regardless, the house is coming along beautifully.  We got a new TV and put it in the family room after we both decided that we prefer to sit in that room on the new sofa and be surrounded by the more open space versus the long narrow room that’s hard to fit groups into.  We got a new credenza that doesn’t come in a color that works with our decor, so now it’s on the list of things to spray paint when things warm up.  I nagged the heck out of Craig and my Father-in-Law and they capped off the hole in the ceiling and wrapped the island last weekend.  Since Craig’s going to be out of town this weekend at a match, I shall be focusing on trying to get the darn thing finished so we can be ready to install a counter top once I find the perfect piece of soapstone.  Oh, and maybe try tackling that MOUNTAIN of laundry that I’ve been avoiding.  Ugh. Not as much fun as using a steam mop to make sure my floors are clean enough to eat off of.

February 8, 2013

Pickled Beets & Quail Eggs

Pickled Beets & Quail Eggs
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For Christmas, one of my coworkers made me pickled beets with quail eggs.  They were beautiful and delicious little gems.  Craig was obsessed.  I kept finding little red drips all over the counter from him taking the jar out and stealing one of the morsels for a quick snack.  We finally finished the jar and Craig has been feinding lately, so I set out to replicate them as best I could.  It helped that she gave me the recipe.  Start out with quail eggs.  I got mine from our local Asian supermarket.  They cost $2.29/10.  I dropped them into boiling water, 10 at a time and boiled for 4 minutes, as my compulsive research suggested would create a perfectly boiled quail egg.  It worked!  No green, but fully cooked yolk!

Quail Eggs

Then set the eggs aside to cool down.  Get your beets out.  For some reason, the asian supermarket also has these enormous beets for only $1/lb.  So I just used the gigantors. As such, I peeled and sliced them prior to boiling instead of after.

Sliced up beets

boiling beets

boiling beets

While the beets boil, peel your eggs. This will take a while.  They’re tiny, and there are lots of them.  But the insides of quail eggs are a gorgeous pale tiffany blue.

Peeling quail eggs

Quail egg shells

Then you prep your jar, and start layering your beets and eggs.

Clean Jar

Beets and quail eggs

Now get started on your brine.  The recipe for the brine is:
2c cider vinegar
1c beet boiling water
1c sugar
2tsp kosher salt
2Tb mustard seeds

Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Cool for a while before pouring into the jar.  Let sit for a few hours to cool.  Now here is where you want to avoid doing what I did.  Don’t put super hot liquid in a jar, seal it, then decide to rinse the spilled brine off using your faucet that has very cold water coming out of it.  You may imagine that this would be a quick way to experience an exploding jar, super hot vinegary beet juice pouring out of the jar, and numerous splinters of shattered glass going all over your sink and impregnating the food you just spent 2 hours making.  You would be correct in that assumption.  I’ve made pickled beets twice this week as a result.

Pickled beets & quail eggs

Posted in: Cooking, DIY, Food
February 8, 2013

Green drawers

Green drawers
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Like…. bright green.  Yeah, I know, you thought this was going to be about my pantaloons.  It’s not.  You see…. I spend too much time on pinterest.  And one of the things that I saw on pinterest was where someone painted the inside of a dresser a bright and unexpected color.  I was smitten.  I needed to do it.  But then I didn’t have any dressers that I was willing to sacrifice.  But now I have the island!  And along with the island, I have totally gross drawers and shelves, with decades of someone else’s drawer crud.  It’s more than I can bear to consider putting my food preparation items in something so….yucky.

Gross used cabinets
Perry looks pissed, right?

So that’s why I painted the inside of the island an exciting color.  And if I hate it in 6 months?  It’s just paint and several hours of my life.  Easy enough!  When I painted the original kitchen cabinets, I used Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo Alkyd based.  It forms a beautiful hard shell and is silky to work with.  But it STINKS and is such an ordeal to clean the brush.  But off I went to the Benjamin Moore store to talk to their expert about my options.  He suggested their Advance line.  It’s a hybrid apparently, which means that you get the super hard finish and satiny creamy goodness in the application, but you can wash your brush with soap and water…. FUCK YES!  So my handy dandy paint associate mixed up a quart of “Douglas Fir” for me, and then gave me a paper cup full of additional pigment to tint the stain-blocking primer that I’d be using.  Turns out I suck at guessing how much of anything to use for painting, so the first stuff I primed was a pretty green color, and towards the end I was totally out of pigment and just priming things in white.  It still seemed to work.

Primed drawers and cabinets

After the initial coat of primer, I waited overnight and got to coat 1 of paint.  I should have sanded between the 2, but I didn’t.  It stuck fine.

First coat of paint on cabinets and drawers

I let that dry for a few days as it seems to take a little longer than a standard oil based paint to set up hard enough for sanding.  Worthwhile tradeoff.  Long dry time, no fumes, no paint thinner.  Anyway, By then I had some drips, rough areas, etc that needed sanding prior to the possible final coat, so I got to it!

Sanding between coats of paint

You can see the yellow spots and streaks.  Those are high spots from the primer peeking through.

Sanding between coats of paint

Sanding drips of paint
Big drips from the primer.

Sanding between coats of paint

tack cloth

Follow up the sanding with a good wipedown from a tack cloth.  It’s basically a piece of cheesecloth that’s impregnated with some sort of sticky waxy material that picks up dust.  It’s totally rad.

Anyway, I did a second coat of paint and feel reasonably pleased with how things look.  So I let them dry for another few days and installed the glides and the island is back together for now.

Posted in: DIY, House, Kitchen, Projects
February 8, 2013

An update on the flooring situation

An update on the flooring situation
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A few weeks ago, I gleefully began blogging about our flooring install.  And it really does look nice.  But it’s still not done.  Sure, most of everything has been completed…. but not everything!  Week one involved tearing up the carpet in the main area of our house, laying tile through most of that area, and grouting most of it.  The edges of the hallway were left untiled, a 2 foot strip in our kitchen was also bare, and the area where our stair to the sunken living room is remained unfinished.  I get it, tile is time consuming.  By the first Friday, most stuff had been grouted, and we were able to move our living room furniture back, as the contractor had a previously scheduled trade show to attend the entire following week. I intended to take some photos of everything, but then didn’t, so I’ll include random photos that I’ve taken over the last few days with my phone, because who wants to read a blog post without photos?

Dog lying on green shag rug

Something that I was expecting, but not expecting to be quite so… extreme?  How loud the house is without carpet.  Like… really loud.  It felt like we were in a gymnasium.  So that Saturday, I cleaned every last bit of grout residue off the floor, and got some rugs.  Avocado shag rugs to be exact.  We’ve decided not to waste money on expensive rugs for the house, as they will eventually (as with the old carpet) get dog-y.  And it’s much easier to feel OK about parting with something that you purchased as a temporary item to serve a purpose until it’s usefulness is no longer(or the thought of touching it to clean it makes you queasy).  Like cheap tupperware. So I felt great about buying (admittedly) intense avocado shag rugs, because if we don’t like them in 2 years?  We were gonna get rid of them anyway.

Grout color swatches
We chose “Sable Brown” as our grout color… the darkest brown they had.

Anyway, last week, the contractor came back and got to work tearing out the carpet in our sunken living room and getting that tiled.  Then, little by little, he chipped away at getting the kitchen done, hallway, etc.  He was out part of this week, and last night installed the transition strips at the door thresholds where we have carpet.  There is still a pretty fair amount of grout work that needs to be done.  And he still needs to finish the stairs.  And several tiles still need to be ripped up and re-laid.  They either got stepped on when the thinset was wet or are warped enough that they just won’t lay flat.  Then all of those areas need to be mortared, sit for a few days, and then the whole house needs to be sealed.  He claims he’ll be done on Saturday.  Perhaps he meant NEXT Saturday, because he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of completing all of that in the several hours he’ll be at our house.  Anyway…. HOPEFULLY things will be more-or-less back to normal.  In the mean time, I have coerced my father in law to take down the old dining room fixture and install the 2 pendant lights above the table, and hopefully early next week the special paneling material that we’re wrapping the island in will be delivered.  If you know anyone who wants our old fixture… tell them to come get it!

Sleeping Malamutes
We’ve had to increase our numbers of dog beds now that there’s not really anything soft for the dogs to curl up on anymore.

So while things are more-or-less put together, everything will once again need to be moved for the grout sealing, and we still need to install all-new trim, so I still feel like we’re camping just a little bit.

Light Fixture
One of the sockets doesn’t work… but hey, it’s free!
Posted in: Flooring, House, Renovations