Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Not All About Me...

Okay, who am I kidding?  It is all about me.  Or maybe just mostly about me.

Because today it's actually about my terrific "twin" niece (we share a birthday...along with Albert Einstein).  Beth has always been a pretty crazy, incredible, crazy (did I already say that?) kiddo.  She's very energetic and passionate and those are only a couple of the qualities I admire about her.

A few years ago (probably whilst looking some milestone birthday in the face) she decided to just "DO" something - to get physically active and in better shape. Being a true multi-tasker (I think she got that from her Gma El) she looked not only for an activity that would be of personal benefit to her but also that would incorporate her philosophy of helping others.

She found this in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and became involved (along with her hubby Matt) in their Team In Training Program.  TNT trains runners, walkers, triathletes, cyclists and hikers who then help fund research by participation in various fundraising events (like the Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon that yours truly actually completed in June 2011!  I went to see if I had blogged previously about that accomplishment - what the heck?  How could I have NOT shared that amazingly, incredibly, AWESOME ACHIEVEMENT!!!)

Uh...yeah, not about me... Anyway, Beth & Matt have participated in numerous events - locally in Anchorage, here in the lower 48 (Seattle, San Diego and San Francisco) and even internationally (Dublin, Ireland!).  Along the way they have raised a lot of money to help fund research for a cure...on behalf of family members, on behalf of friends, and even on behalf of total strangers!

This year they will be running in the Nike Women's Marathon on October 20, 2013 in San Francisco.  Check out their progress towards this year's fundraising goal (and if so inclined, make a donation - no donation is too small!)

Way to go Beth and Matt!  You totally ROCK!!!

~later, your favorite aunt tw

Monday, May 20, 2013

You've Come A LONG Way Baby!

Once upon a time ago (a long LONG time ago), we decided to remodel the accommodate the dishwasher (but that's another story).  Not hurt its feelings, we also decided to improve the dining room.  This past week (while we were cruising in Alaska - photos and stories to follow), the hardwood floor (new to the dining room) was refinished.  It turned out beautiful!  And looking back at the "before" photos of the dining room reminded me just how much it's changed in the past (nearly) three months!

BEFORE (with carpeting and a picture window)

DEMOLITION (wall and butler's pantry being removed)



In addition to removing the wall between the dining room and the kitchen, the picture window was changed to double french doors to allow for another pathway to the "outdoor kitchen" area (landscaping will most likely take place NEXT year!)


NEARLY FINISHED:  The floor is GORGEOUS!  The wainscoting (the white part of the wall) needs to be replaced and painted, the trim around the door added and the chandelier replaced but this room is getting pretty darn close to completion!

The hardwood throughout the kitchen,

foyer, and powder room were all refinished (beautifully - so prepare to remove your least for awhile!)

 ~later, tw

Thursday, May 16, 2013

And Now the End is Near...

Okay, maybe not exactly "near" but definitely within sight!

When I left yesterday (to earn books by volunteering at a Scholastic Warehouse Book Fair), I noticed that the oven...the much anticipated, REALLY LARGE wall oven, was standing in the garage... OUT OF THE BOX!  Could it be that it was about to be installed?

I know this entire project came about because the new dishwasher would not fit in the old dishwasher's place (which naturally meant the entire kitchen AND dining room had to be remodeled to accommodate it - right?  I mean, you DO get that?)  But what I was really looking forward to is the new REALLY HUGE Whirlpool Gold 10 cu. ft. Double Wall Oven with True Convection Cooking.  I mean, I will be able to get a full steam table-sized pan in it...them...actually several....AT THE SAME TIME!  I hope you're appreciating this because before this new oven, I basically was baking with an EASY BAKE OVEN!  I could only get a cookie sheet into either oven IF it didn't come with little handles that stick out.  Oh, the things I shall bake!!!  I was so excited to see it in place and to be able to set the clock!

Alas, the was about the end of it for a week or so...

After installation, the balance of the day was spent on the initial prep work for the floor finishers to come next week.  Everything in the kitchen was carefully wrapped in plastic (including the new oven) and doors to the powder room and hall closet removed.  The rest of the house is being closed off with plastic "curtains" - the piano room, both stairways (no easy trick that!), the office and laundry room and finally the TV room.

The temporary kitchen (aka the re-purposed laundry room) became a bit more crowded as I quickly "rescued" some cereal and bowls/cups/silverware that will tide us over for the next few days as we will no longer have access to either the "pantry" or the refrigerator (now safely hidden behind the plastic curtains).

It's strange to see our foyer once again - refrigerator free and without the protective covering the floor.  It's been two-and-a-half MONTHS since this project began and now we've eaten our last meal out there.  (I'm SO ready to have a real kitchen again!)

The kitchen / dining room seems cavernous and echoes loudly now.  Soon it says...soon!

later, tw

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

(Almost) Everything...

...and the kitchen sink!

The faucet fixtures were installed:  Faucet & sprayer, soap dispenser and insta-hot (so Gerry can have his tea instantly while I heat mine in my teakettle on the stove).  The soap dispenser is only temporary since we - Todd & I - thought it looked too shiny to really be satin nickel finish like the others.

Lights are starting to appear...and work!  These are the can lights (which like most of this look much better in person - you'll have to trust me on this.  Or better yet - come visit us and check it out for yourself!)

Also, the drawer microwave is in.  Naturally, being very tactile, I like to play with my new toys so Todd hooked it up temporarily to power via an extension cord (the island isn't "live" quite yet).

And finally, Carol and I did what I hope is the final shopping adventure for the kitchen remodel.  Once the beautiful, if previously unseen, countertop was installed it was clear that I would need to make a slight modification of the tile for the backsplash.  We tried, without any real success (and certainly without any warm fuzzy feeling that anyone wanted my money) and I finally thought maybe we should try the place where we got our tile for the fireplace and bathroom remodels a few (okay FIVE - where did that time go?) years ago.  I really had enjoyed shopping at ProSource (it was QUICK and relatively painless because I am NOT a shopping animal by any stretch!) so we headed to Bothell.

Amazingly, it did not take me long.  Carol was convinced we'd be coming home with LOTS of samples since I didn't even have a sample of my granite to go from.  Nope!  I quickly scanned through the options, pulling out the cards of any that looked remotely close.  I saw one (Mannington's Seregenti Slate - BOLD colors), pulled it out and continued to look at a few more cards.  Backtracked to review the slate...continued to peruse a few more cards...backtracked again.  I was convinced - third time the charm and all that.

So I came home with exactly one sample - and it is going to be beautiful.  (Sue, my designer, had also brought me some samples - mostly river rock which I knew was definitely a NO GO - too many nooks and crannies to put behind a sink with a sprayer!)   Todd and I talked at length about how we're (and by we're I mean HE and the TEAM) are going to incorporate the various color tiles to become the back splashes and window trim / wrapping.  (Oh and you can see the pendant light that now hangs over the beverage bar area.)

Another successful shopping outing - I could really get into this.  NOT!

~later, tw

Friday, May 10, 2013

Well Ya Got Trouble...

...right here in River City!

We recently were treated to another mighty fine, I say a MIGHTY FINE performance by the St. Alphonsus Parish School and this year's production of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man, Junior."

We've known for months (actually a tad long than the star himself) that our nephew, Nick R., would be the lead in this production - a role practically tailor-made for this guy!  He has a tremendous voice and just the right amount of chutzpah to really pull off this part.  If you've ever seen the movie, you know that Harold Hill has LENGTHY soliloquies  requiring any actor to be not only light on their feet but quick with the delivery of all lines.  Nick was definitely up to the task!

So were all the other cast members.  We've come to expect wonderful things from this drama department.  I don't know how they do it, but costuming, scenery and talent all come together to put on "way-more-than-your-run-of-the-mill" grade school production!

The role of Marian, the librarian, was performed by Victoria L.  She was incredible last year as Dorothy and as I suspected, she equally delightful in this part.

Nick's younger brother, Philip R., was also in this production - as one of the school board (and therefore barbershop quartet) members.  Like his brother he has an excellent voice!

Two other memorable performances were those of Mayor Shinn (Daniel W.) and his wife, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Serafima H.).  The mayor's wife is pretty "over-the-top" and requires "extra energy" to carry off this part and Serafima was wonderful!

Another standout performance was given by Mrs. Paroo (Maggie K. - seen last year in The Wizard of Oz).  Her Irish accent was delightful (and consistent!) and her voice, beautiful!

While we will be sad next year (because Nick is moving on to high school...and hopefully the drama department there), we're hoping that we will still be treated to another performance by his brother (Philip) and by the leading lady, Victoria (who is still only in 7th grade and AMAZING!)

Way to go, St. Al's!!!

~later, tw

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monday, Monday... was all I hoped it would be.

I had survived the entire weekend sans countertop.  Fortunately, the sunny weather and chores kept me otherwise occupied so I didn't really have too much time to lament the fact that nobody showed up to my house on Friday.

Monday proved the wait was so worth it!!!  

(I do realize there are a lot of photos but it was less nerve-wracking for me to be taking photos than just standing around holding my breath!)

The countertop arrived - all 6 pieces and many hundreds of pounds of it.

The pieces were carefully standing on end in the truck - held securely in place for transport and after seeing how they came out of the truck, I don't even want to think about how they got them INTO the truck!  I wish I had been here to document how Collin went about making the templates for each piece.  I was only here briefly to discuss particulars (Where was the granite going?  How wide did I want the piece that would cap the top of the bar area?  Where were the faucet fixtures going to be located?  What type/style of edging did I want?) and then I had to boogie to an "off-site" (aka lunch with friends).

I was here for the arrival though and incredibly impressed (not only with the granite itself but that fact that these three guys could so expertly maneuver the rock into place)!

The first piece to come in was the bar because two guys could, while not exactly "easily," get this one into the house and into place, followed quickly by the three other "small" pieces (the kitchen window ledge, the ledge by the bar and the small counter by the wall oven area).

Then it was time for the first jumbo piece - the kitchen sink counter.

Ten feet in length but only two feet (plus overage) wide, it was still heavy and had the added "bonus feature" of the cut-out for the sink. I watched as the guys first clamped a bar to support the opening and then put it on the "dolly" to wheel it into the house.  At 10 feet long, there was not enough room to go directly around the island so they had to open the door to the gazebo and make a 3-point turn into the kitchen before lifting it into place.

Whew!  A short break was definitely in order before tackling the last piece!!!

The big piece was just plain "scary" - start to finish.  Just watching Collin try to keep the piece upright while the other two got the dolly and braces ready made my heart stop.  The island is ENORMOUS - 10 feet long and 5-6 feet wide (the "breakfast counter" is an extra foot in width for roughly two-thirds of the length) plus the cut-out for the cooktop.  Lots of places for scary stress to occur here!

After making a first attempt that failed, the three guys were ready to lift the rock onto the dolly - which immediately flattened at least one of the tires.  (I told you it was a REALLY HEAVY PIECE OF STONE!)

Slowly they made their way down the ramp and then two of them held it in place (not easy) while Collin detached the ramp from the truck and situated it on my porch.

Finally the slab was in the house and through the kitchen, but again it would not make the corner into the kitchen.  The guys took it all the way out onto the deck walkway (between the house and the gazebo) and "spun" it around - lift, turn and set it down, repeat (without anyone miraculously falling into the pond!) and back into the house.

Then the choreography of getting into place began.  First they got the piece within 18" of the island and measured to make certain that it was centered.

They carefully lifted the piece to remove it from the dolly and set it down ~12" from the island

and gently, ever so gently, allowed the piece to lean back onto the island.

While one person supported the cut-out area (cooktop) and Todd and Hymie watched the top corners, Collin and Ben braced the bottom edges with their "outside" foot.

On the count of three...everyone pretty much collectively held our breath as the three guys lifted the piece - about halfway onto the island

and then slid it the rest of the way into place.

It was amazing!  I don't think Collin was a bit surprised at how accurately he had cut these pieces (not his first time at this particular rodeo) but he was pretty amazed at how absolutely PERFECT it was - with the cabinetry, with the hardware, with the paint.  Especially since this was the very first time I was seeing this granite.   [I had picked out a piece but the installer had a discussion with my builder and suggested that I would not be happy with this piece after all since there was not a "bookend" piece - meaning that because it was a smaller piece, requiring a seam, there was nothing to match it to.  He suggested this piece: Junaparana Rio - instead and in a leap of faith, I totally trusted him with it - a great decision on my part!)

Before they left, they dropped the cooktop into place, just to be sure that it would fit (as if there was any doubt!)

PERFECT was indeed the word of the day!!!

~later, tw