A few weeks ago, Jen was at Lowe’s shopping for something and stumbled upon a tile pattern she liked. She sent me a picture and we talked it over, and I bought a few to bring home and test-fit. You see, we’ve been thinking about a tile backsplash in the kitchen since 2005 when we had the whole thing redone; we just never decided on what we wanted back there.
This is a large (2’wX1’w) tile with a repeating wavy pattern, sort of a knockoff of the large architectural panels that were popular 10 years ago. It’s meant to be sort of a subway tile for an entire wall, but for our purposes it was perfect: a minimum of grouted area to have to clean, an organic pattern to break up all of the right angles, and a shiny surface to reflect under-counter lights back out into the room.
The big problem was the number of outlets we have surrounding the counter and how I’d cut holes in the tile to bring them all through. I did some digging and found an Italian-made sawblade designed to fit an angle grinder that got stellar reviews for cutting small holes, so I ordered that from Amazon and then bought two boxes of tile.
Saturday morning I rented a wet tile saw, cleared the counters off, and got to work. For the most part it was easy going, and after I figured out the best way to cut outlet holes right the first time it went smoothly. The corner by the range was the only place where things got tricky, but I found a way to make it work and proper application of grout should hide any sins.
There’s a full size tile on the bottom and then a ~2″ slice around the top edge that meets the underside of the cabinets. With some creative engineering I was able to get a medium-size tile saw to cut an oversize tile exactly how I needed.
So, next up is grout; I’m already planning to get a tub of white grout to fix a small stain in the new bathroom floor (one of the cats knocked over a can of purple PVC pipe primer, and that shit stains everything) so I can use some of the remainder to grout the kitchen.
For a grand total of ~$200 and a full Saturday, I’m pretty pleased.
“He had an early [racially] integrated practice. Long before other doctors opened their waiting rooms to all, he did.”
My sister sent us a Christmas care package filled to the brim with amazing, thoughtful gifts. The highlight for Finn was a Kanken backpack covered with cool metal and cloisonné pins; she immediately ditched her black LL Bean backpack and moved everything over to the new one. One of the things she gave me was a 4-pack of AirTags, which I’ve been curious about for years but haven’t ever pulled the trigger on. Intrigued, I set two of them up and put one in my travel messenger bag and the other on a keyring.
Since then I’ve been getting messages on my phone whenever we leave to walk the dog to tell me I’ve left my messenger bag, keyring, iPad, AirPods and Apple Watch behind (I don’t wear my Apple Watch all of the time). Somehow activating the AirTags kicked off a bunch of notifications for all of the location-aware Apple gear I own; my phone vibrates constantly. I’ve got to figure out how to turn off all but the essentials, I guess.
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As part of our remodeling in the Living Room, we’re opening up the space for new furniture and a new layout. Now that the built-in bookshelves are installed, it’s time to remove the bulkier furniture we don’t need or that doesn’t fit. I broke down the IKEA Expedit bookcase we’ve had in there since before I changed jobs and listed it on Craigslist for $20. The next step will be to disassemble Jen’s oak library table and store it safely in the basement, and move my carpenter’s trunk upstairs in the blue bedroom. There’s no way we’re getting rid of either of those items, but they are too big for our current living room. The West Elm chairs could be here anywhere between this Friday or the middle of March; we have no idea but want to be prepared.
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On Saturday we drove down to Bob’s to bring food and spend some time with him. The three toilets I delivered two weeks ago are now all installed, including the one in the bathroom I’ve been working on. While the plumber was in there working we arranged to have him lower the flange to floor level, so that wrinkle has been ironed out. We’ve got a new 36″ vanity on order and waiting to be delivered this week. The plan is to head down on Sunday, set that in place and hook up the sink. I may rope my brother-in-law in and have him come in to help; we’ll see.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve begun to notice an appreciable difference in my teeth. I’m in Week 37 of 70 Invisalign trays, and I can finally look in the mirror and see the changes in my lower teeth—they’re spreading out and beginning to fall into place. The biggest change I feel is in my upper eyeteeth, which are being pushed forward and outward to make room for my molars behind; on the first and second day of new trays I need to wait about a half an hour after taking them out to eat anything, due to the soreness. I’m beginning to get excited about a straight, even smile, and even looking forward to some kind of whitening treatment. My teeth have been yellow since I was a boy, and having done some research on Diazinon, it turns out exposure to the herbicide can trigger all sorts of health effects, including yellowed teeth. Dad used to spray that shit around the house, and I spent a good portion of my childhood on the floor directly in contact with it.
The shelves are painted and complete save for one small area at the bottom left where I need to fit a section of wood. I’ve been waiting for a day when Hazel is outside to run up the saw; she gets very nervous when I use power tools, especially now that she’s got the ear wrap on again. We’ve already started putting books on shelves but I’m waiting until Jen organizes it the way she wants to snap a picture. I’ll say this: it makes a HUGE difference, and it really anchors that entire side of the room. All that wasted physical and visual space is now fully utilized, and we can move on to Part 2 of the plan: getting rid of some old furniture. Meanwhile, I got a notice that our two West Elm chairs are shipped and on their way.
I took advantage of another oddly warm and sunny day in February to spray out the shelves with two coats of high-gloss white paint. My efforts were mostly successful; the gun I’m using is the second one I bought when I was painting the house, and I’ve found that this particular model has about one full house in it before it starts getting gummed up irreparably. I had to do some adjusting to get a good spray pattern going, and in the time between the first and second coats the needle got clogged up, which then covered my new sneakers with a fine mist of white paint. Great.
Once I cleared the gun, it went on well, and I got everything back inside after it cured in the sunshine and up against the walls. I cleaned up the joints with caulk, used a brush to touch up the problem areas and put a second coat on the high-traffic parts after knocking down the high spots with sandpaper.
So at this point I’m at the installation phase. I’ve got to go get some angle brackets and wood putty to secure it to the wall in the most hidden way possible, and start with the finish carpentry. When that’s all complete I’ll hit everything with a brush one last time to clean things up.
I took advantage of some rare warm sunny February weather and shot the shelving units with some white primer yesterday afternoon in an effort to keep things moving. With all of the practice I got spraying the house out, it only took about 15 minutes to set up the compressor and gun. The most difficult part of the whole thing was getting the sections outside without letting the cats out. The whole process took about an hour and a half from the time I fired up the compressor to putting the last of the shelves back up in place.
Next up I need a whole day of solid sunshine and ~60˚ weather to shoot two coats of high gloss white on everything before it goes back in permanently. The forecast doesn’t show anything like that coming for a while, which is a drag—I’d really like to get to the finish carpentry part of this project and put it to bed.