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New location!

20 Jun

Hello blog followers! I made the merge over to wordpress.org, so this account is no longer active. If you want to continue to follow the blog via email, you can find it at the same url – www.lemongroveblog.com, but you’ll need to resign up for emails, if of interest. Simply add your email to the far right box, where it says subscribe here.

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It’s Electrifying

18 Jun

When we got a little deeper into the renovation process in the kitchen, we started to realize that a few things had to change. After removing the wall, we started to move on to the finer details of the space, and that is when we noticed that our status quo electricity was not going to work. Bummer dude. See the outlet right there in the middle of the room? We needed an outlet for both the oven (below the existing one) and above, for the microwave (above the existing one).

How to move outlet

Outlet

Since we had not done any exploration behind the wall, we didn’t know exactly where each set of wires went. The previous electrical box had (4) outlets, and we knew we wanted to move two of them up, and the other two down. Assuming the worst, which was that the wires did not go in the general direction we wanted, we purchased a junction box and extra wire in order to run a new line up to our desired location. First things first, after turning the power off, I made Jay do a second level of testing with a lamp in the house, just so we could really make sure the power was off. Better not to have a bar-b-qued husband.

How to safely move electrical box

Checking Electricity

After we confirmed the power was off, we started exploring the wiring in the wall a bit more, to see if it went to our desired destinations. And by George, it did. Always nice when the home renovations God’s shine down upon you. One of the outlets had a wire that literally went straight up the wall we needed, while the other jogged down to the desired location. Now, instead of running new wire up, we just had to reroute our existing wire into the new space.

How to move electrical box

Rerouting Electrical

After some maneuvering and snipping, we were able to get the wires out of the junction box so that we could move them up to where we needed them to be. We did some measuring, and determined that a box that was about 18″ from the ceiling would fit right into the cabinet we will have above the microwave, which would allow up to plug the microwave right into the outlet above it.

How to move outlet box

Moving Wires

After cutting a few exploratory holes first, to make sure the wires headed in the direction we needed, we just grabbed the wires from the original box and slowly guided them up to our new desired location.

How to move electrical box

Stripping Wire

In order to attach the wires to the electrical outlet at the new, higher, location, we just stripped off the protective coating so that we could gain access to the wire. Since the wires ran directly to the location we needed, we did not need to run a new line, or to modify the existing stack of wires. It made for a pretty straight forward job.

How to attach wires to electrical outlet

Attaching Wires

Final step was to attach the wires right onto the electrical outlet and from there we were pretty much good to go! Probably the most difficult part of this whole process was cutting through the plaster to get to the wires in order to move them. Check out how thick this plaster was!

How to remove plaster wall

Plaster Wall

Here is the new outlet above (for the microwave) and the other one that we place below the old outlet location. I was pretty much dreading this project, so to have the entire thing take 30-mins was incredibly awesome and totally unexpected. Now we will just move forward with patching the wall, and eventually, with some lovely subway tiles! Can’t wait until we are to that point in the reno!

How to move electrical outlet

Outlet

Patched, Primed and Ready to Go!

13 Jun

Progress, Progress I tell you! My house is now almost free of plaster dust (my new nemesis). After a month straight of this stuff (backed up to 2-months of bathroom renovations) I’m ready to screaaam from the rooftops and do a happy dance or two while I’m at it. Wootie Wootie, tootie fruitie. See, I’m HAPPY!! While we had the mud out for the patching of our hole from the wall removal, I got all motivated to tackle another, lingering, old house problem. Pillowing plaster, ever heard of it? Me neither, until we moved into this fine establishment.

How to remove pillowing on plaster

Pillowing Plaster

It is kind of hard to see in the picture above, but our entire house has a small crease every foot and a half or so, that is about the size of a pillow. Can ya see it? After lots of research, we found that this issue is totally non-structural, and results when the final coat of the plaster is put on prematurely, which leads to the pillowing effect as it dries. Not the ugliest thing, many would say, old house – adds to the charm! But while we had the trowel out I figured let’s just dominate this room and bust this beast out. Here is a more intense version of the pillowing, it is only cracked like this in a few locations.

How to remove pillowing from plaster

Removing Pillowing

Since we knew we would have to paint the living room anyway (since it is connected to the dining and kitchen), we figured now was the best time to rid the house of the plaster pillowing. It’s a big pain in the rear to skim coat every surface, sand it, and then (often) skim coat it again, but in the long run, I think it is going to be worth it.

How to fix pillowing of plaster

Fixing the Pillow

We came through and added a skim coat along the lines we found the most offensive. We didn’t go after every single crease, rather we tried to go for the ones that we knew were the most glaring to the eye, namely ones directly above a lighting source, since the creasing led to shadows on the wall that made the lines look even more pronounced.

How to remove plaster pillowing

Sanding Wall

Here is the wall against our couch after the first round of sanding. See what I mean with the 1″ coat of dust around this joint. For real people.

We knew that it would be super important to come back over each coat of mud with a thorough coat of primer, since the joint compound really sucks up the paint. If you don’t do this, it will make your paint coat look very uneven and the joint compound section will have a different texture from the rest of the wall. No good, amigo.

How to seal drywall joint

Priming Wall

We had some places to patch up in the kitchen as well. Under the window sill (where there was some backsplash tile) we had some patching to do. The rest is going to get the subway tile treatment, so we left it unpatched.

How to patch plaster holes

Sanding Mud

While we were at it, we decided to paint the kitchen ceiling, too, to get the room ready for it’s coat of paint. Just saying that makes me giddy. I can’t fa-reaking believe that we are going to be painting soon, now THAT feels like progress. We definitely had a rainbow effect going on in there. See all the different colors up on the ceiling. It was high time to take this melting pot and turn it into one lovely shade of crisp, white, ceiling paint.

How to paint ceiling

Paint Ceiling

 

Marching on Through: Monthly Round-Up

1 Apr

So, March was busy. Dusty, cold and busy. I can say with the utmost confidence that I can bid adieu to this phase of the bathroom reno without a tear in my eye. I don’t mind kicking the whole month of March to the curb. Early spring, yeah… not. so. much. Still snowing here in my dear mitten state. Meh. Cheers to a balmy April, that is fo shizzle.

Keeping the Heat On 

Started the month out with a brand spanking new furnace. After much deliberation, we decided to go with the Lennox EL195E. The jury is still out on our total annual savings with the unit, but since it’s a 27 year, and 25% efficiency improvement over the last guy, we figure were saving a few bucks each month. Plus, our current one was on it’s last leg, so coupled with a $1,000 rebate, it seemed like the right time to move on it. Spending your hard earned dolla bills on a furnace is not the most exciting thing, but  certainly a necessary improvement.

Lennox EL195E

Lennox EL195E

Back it Up

In anticipation of our tile job, and after a thorough coat of insulation to keep the house nice and toasty, we installed backerboard in the upstairs bathroom. After learning a few things the hard way on our first house, we took lots of extra time and attention to detail on this step to make sure that everything came out flush and ready for tile. Overall, I think it was a success.

How to install backerboard

Measuring Backboard

Bring on the T-ile!!

Yeah buddy! Herringbone tile, it had a few hiccups, but sweet mother of pearl, I’m a fan. Like sign me up for the fan club. I’ll even be the president. Major lessons learned. Cut once, measure twice. I think that should just be a general mantra for all home reno projects. At least round these parts. Here is a recap of phase 1 and phase 2 of the herringbone tile install.

Herringbone Subway Tile

Bathroom | After

My Dear Friend Craig

In between all the bathroom renovating, we also found time to do some craiglisting. It takes patience, but every once and a blue moon a winner just pops up for the snagging. These moments are especially perfecto when the said item is a steal of a deal. Winning.

Vintage Brass Hardware Table

Vintage Brass Hardware End Table

Built in Beauty

Before we knew it, we were back to the bathroom grind. By mid-month though, we were really starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the space was actually starting to come together and feel more like a ROOM and not a construction site. We started working on the bathroom built-in (still working on it…) but I am pretty pumped to see how this guy turns out. Just need to add some paint and trim it out and we are done!

How to construct a builtin between studs

Built-In

Floored 

By the end of the month – we had the floor down and the room was nearly ready for prime time! Still waiting on the sink, the lighting and au toilet and we will be ready to roll.

How to grout marble tile

Grouting Tile

Day Zero List

1 Jan
Day Zero Inspiration

Day Zero Inspiration

I can’t help it – I just love a good solid list. Lists and I, we are like peas and carrots (said with a Forrest Gump voice). Something about the pure ecstasy that hits me as I check my task off, it just gives me a little buzz. Like putting money in my savings account, same feeling. Then again, I’m a little odd bout that. 😉

I heard about the Day Zero Challenge from my cousin and before I knew it, I was hooked and my list making had begun. Essentially, how the day-zero challenge works is you establish a list of 101 things you would like to accomplish in 1001 days. The items can be as simple, or as challenging as you want. Thought the blog would be a good place to post my list – to keep me honest and all 🙂

Crafty + Scholarly
1 Take a picture of the same thing every day for (1) month
2 Make a piece of art
3 Learn how to take nicer photographs
4 Walk through the peony garden when the flowers are in full bloom
5 Memorize all countries/states/continents on the globe
6 Memorize the presidents in order
7 Read (50) new novels (Progress 2/50 completed)
8 Visit (3) museums
9 Go to a musical performance
Personal Goals
10 Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
11 Make a new friend
12 Watch the sunrise
13 Learn how to fix holes in my clothes/socks
14 Read the bible
15 Try (5) foods I’ve never had
16 Go to a convention/event I think is odd
17 Go to church with Mom
18 Donate to NPR
19 Donate to SNRE
20 Donate my TIME to a political cause I believe in
21 Volunteer at a soup kitchen
22 Buy a lottery ticket
23 Leave a 100% tip (Completed!)
24 Go out for Restaurant Week at the expensive tier restaurant
25 Buy flowers for the house
26 Get a glass of wine with dinner
27 Go to a movie (have not been in years) (Completed!)
Relationship Building
28 Cook a nice meal for Jay
29 Go on a date night to Cafe Felix and dress up
30 Go to a downtown happy hour with Jay we have never been to
31 Take Mom and Dad out for a nice dinner
32 Help someone reach their goal
33 Go on a vacation with my sisters
34 Have a family game night
35 Pick (3) people that mean a lot to me – write them a letter
36 Give a random gift to a friend/family member
37 Send a someone an encouraging note in the mail
38 Put a love note in Jay’s lunch
39 Write a letter to Grandma letting her know I love her and I’m thinking about her
40 Host a wine tasting party
41 Go on a trip for our (5) year anniversary (6/27/2015)
42 Have a Christmas Party
43 Invite Tom and Laurie over for dinner
44 Go with Jay and Kenny to a U-M basketball game
45 Visit Washington D.C
46 Go to a cave
47 Go to a national park
48 Go on an international trip
49 Visit Canada (doesn’t count as international trip)
50 Go to a Michigan winery for a wine tasting
51 Travel to a state I have not been to
52 Go to Boston
Living Sustainably
53 Join a CSA
54 Have (1) meat-free dinner weekly
55 Go to the farmer’s market once a month for groceries
56 Assess the feasibility of solar panels on the house
57 Go on a nature hike
58 Learn how to identify (4) leaves
59 Go on a day long hike/picnic adventure
60 Learn how to can food
61 Have all the food consumed for (1) meal be from Michigan
62 Purchase only products made domestically for (1) month
Fitness
63 Run another half-marathon
64 Do a road bike race/event
65 Go on a destination bike ride with Mom
66 Run a race with Rachel
67 Do yoga/meditation every night for one month
Professional
68 Reach out to (5) industry professionals for informational interviews
69 Join a board (Completed! Board Member for Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition)
70 Get promoted
71 Take a course through U-M
72 Attend a chamber networking event
Personal Goals 
73 Don’t swear for a week
74 Don’t complain about anything for one week
75 Don’t go on facebook for one week
76 Don’t use the internet for one day
77 Don’t eat fast food for a month
78 Don’t eat meat for a week
House and Home
79 Convert side porch to Dining Room
80 Dormer the upstairs for Master Suite
81 Renovate the Kitchen
82 Refinish the wood floors
83 Have a successful vegetable garden
84 Get chickens
Financial
85 Establish 2-months salary as an emergency fund
86 Don’t buy anything but essentials for one month
87 Contribute 12% of income to retirement
88 Have total CC bill under $800 4-months per year
89 Have total CC bill under $900 4-months per year
90 Wait to purchase non-budgeted items till end of billing cycle – only purchase if allotted funds available
Do Something the Scares You
91 Donate blood
92 Go for a drive along a mountain pass (slowly!)
93 Go for a hike where the bears live (Appalachia)
94 Introduce myself to someone new
95 Bring holiday cookies to neighbors
96 Walk into ocean (I’m a whimp and I think a stingray is going to get me, or a shark will eat me 🙂
Other
97 Start a Blog – Completed!
98 Make (5) things pinned on pinterest
99 Do the Dalmac Bike Ride
100 Get (5) Facials
101 Plan a surprise date night for Jay