Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy 4th, Happy 2yr anniversery, Happy Bday

Its Just Happy, Happy All Around

Yes, this post is super late, should of gone up after the 4th.
So we've basically been in the house for 2yrs now, and its the 4th of July and its my bday!!! What a great reason for a super long post full of pictures!

We've been in sorta a mad rush at the house lately wanting to get a bunch of projects done before our anniversary. We did pretty well, with the kitchen getting redone, the lumber rack, and tons of site-built storage for the house and shade to replace the wonderful tree the jerkwad neighbor killed... Its probably why I look so tired in some of these party pictures..that and having a 3month old who still only sleeps for 2hrs at a time at night....

Here we are with aunts, uncles and cousin Ben pushing Natasha to the annual Alameda 4th of July parade. Locals often refer to Alameda as Mayberry and on the 4th it really sticks.

Here's the obligatory parade shot with baby. The Alameda parade is so huge everyone says that half of the island is in the parade and the other half is watching. The route is like 3 miles long! I feel bad for the kids in the marching bands its pretty hot in July and that's a pretty far slog.

After the parade it was time for the BBQ! The parade went a LOT longer than we were planning so we were way behind in some of the preparations. The lucky few early birds got drafted into service helping prepare (thanks auntie Grace).

Here's a shot of the BBQ. Everyone is looking over at me at the grill wondering when I'll start cooking! Did I mention I was a bit behind schedule?

Another shot of the party. Family, friends, neighbors-the coolaroo shade sail really saved our bacon.

We new we weren't going to be able to fit everyone under a coolaroo so we borrowed our friend Kevy's shade pop-up. We called this the nerd section after this shot, kids reading and adults ignoring the rest of the party (jk Ayse and Noel).

Here's a shot of the food. You can see the home-made pineapple salsa, the home-made mango salsa, and on the side burner on the grill a big pot of roasted garlic mashed purple potatoes. They don't taste any diff than new potatoes but its fun to see adults recoil in terror because, 'my god they're purple!!!!'

Overhead shot a little later in the day. Nieces are still fighting over the baby.


Tasha with her uncle Chippy-that's her grumpy face.

Tasha with Auntie Grace.

Tasha with the nieces.

back to regularly scheduled programming...

So, it was my bday and of course we had a cake. Angel food cake with whip cream icing and strawberries and Ninjas!!

The ninjas were a big hit with the kids. Yummm tasty ninjas...

Irene took care of cutting the cake.

And I took care of eating it-with some help of course.

More Cute Baby Pics!!!

Our good friend Margie (who used to be one of our roommates when we lived back in SF) surprised me by showing up unannounced.

Sleepy baby.

More sleepy baby on Ayse's lap.

Cute baby in her 4th of July party dress.

Not a baby anymore but our buddy Big Dave's youngest doing what kids should in the dirt!

Back to the BBQ.

Big Dave's son James(with help from mom) brought an activity for the other kids to do. Making lady bugs out of strawberries, grapes and choc chips! Here's James showing the other kids how its done.

Viola the finished bug!

The other kids hard at work on making their own bugs. This was totally great kept the kids occupied for an hour easy. This party was chock full of 7-9yr old boys...if it wasn't for this and two trips to the park down the street these kids woulda been climbing the walls...

It started to cool off pretty fast so we fired up the fire pit. Here's a shot of nieces, nephews, and aunts enjoying the warmth.

More Cute Baby Pics!!!

This was Tasha's night time outfit I believe..well the first one anyways till she puked all over it....ain't she adorable?

Natasha with uncle Chippy again.

Kevy flew back from LA just to hold Tasha around our fire pit!

Back to the BBQ.

It started to get dusky and we rounded up the troops and headed out to watch the fire works. The city of Oakland has a big fireworks display at the embarcadero every fourth, so our plan was to be directly across the water from where they were setting off the fire works. A free show with no giant crazy crowds.

On the walk over don't suggest to 2 rambunctious 7 year olds to go play in the sprinklers....cause they'll do it!! duh.

We miss-calculated by oh 1/2 a mile as to where the fire works where going to Big D said,' How many of us are carrying GPS enabled i-phones where we coulda just looked up the right place to be!' But we could still see em. Except for that dang big boat crane!

But we enjoyed the show anyways.

After the fireworks most of us came back and sat around the fire-pit and told ghost stories. I scared the kids with tales of how the house was built on a grave yard..where they moved the tombstones but not the bodies......boogety-boo

Even though it was cold outside Tasha was nice and warm wrapped in her blanket and hat.

One final shot of the King and his princess.

Overall our first family 4th of July BBQ was a success. We toned way down the food we usually prepare and it still wasn't ready by the time guests showed. It was a nice relaxed family style event without the wacky high-jinks and multiple shot drinking of past bdays.

See y'all next year!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The $250 kitchen renovation

As you can see, we've decided to do a few things to make the house more comfortable.. Things like the carpet runner, and the storage shelves were near the top of the list, but at the very top was making the kitchen slightly less ghetto-rific.

<-- This is what our kitchen has looked like for the past 2 years.

It's been totally functional, but I have to admit the inability to clean that room has been driving me a little batty. The throw rugs on the floor have been particularly frustrating because they're impossible to clean - the vacuum pulls them up (as do the cats), spills can't be wiped up, and there are areas here and there that I'd accidentally touch floor with my bare feet. It shouldn't be so disturbing to accidentally touch your kitchen floor with your bare feet!

The lack of cabinets was also high on the "we gotta do something about this" list. Especially with the walls open, everything on the shelves would just get so filthy so fast. Plus, I really like being able to CLOSE the cabinet doors and not see everything.

So first things first, we had to clear everything out of the room. The stove and the fridge, which we didn't want to empty, were the two big pains.
Everything else was just a matter of packing up and finding a spot in the house. It was like moving, but didn't involve a truck.

Our 12' x 25' sheet of vinyl was rolled up with the good side out and the short way, which would make it very hard to unroll in the room. So we spread it out and rolled it up the other way.
Unfortunately, we don't actually have a space that big, so we made do with the patio and some extra folding. Even more unfortunately, we got the cheapest vinyl available, and it was so thin that in doing this we creased it and tore it in a few places :-/ If we'd realized how thin it was, we'd've anted up to a little better quality.

We wound up sorta folding it in thirds and carrying it like a dead body into the kitchen.
The sink is the only "permanent" thing in the room, and it turned out to be nailed to the floor with a dozen nails! We swapped out the blocks for something a little less crazy and slid the vinyl underneath.

Then we rolled the rest of it out. Again, this would've been way easier if we'd gotten thicker stuff, but we were still doing ok at this point. We used the table to hold down sections while we adjusted other areas.

Then we sliced it with a utility knife (the one upside to how thin it was) up against the walls so we could finish rolling it out into the entry..

.. and then screwed it into the subfloor around the perimeter.
We decided against using glue, as would be correct for this installation. We scrubbed a LOT of mastic and glue off that floor when we moved in and I'd just as soon not be right back at square one when we're ready to redo the kitchen for real. Actually, correct would've been laying down a clean plywood subfloor first, but that's waaay more than we cared about for this temporary fix

Again, the fridge was tough because it was so heavy but we ultimately just creased the vinyl underneath it and rolled it into place.

Unfortunately, in doing this we tore a hole right in the center of the room (of course!)

Good thing we had our guest house renovator/blogger in the house! Ayse (who kindly offered to hold Natasha so I could work without a baby strapped on my back), made short work of patching the tear with the tape we bought for that very purpose. She had a couple more opportunities to use that skill in this room.

Once the fridge had been moved onto the vinyl, the rest of the floor was pretty straightforward. Then it was time to move everything back in..

.. and then put up the cabinets!

Dan and I installed a whole kitchen at our old house, so we learned a few tricks for making it go more smoothly. The first trick is to get a laser level and a good stud finder, and then attach a ledger board to the studs to set the cabinet on

Resting on the board, even this giant cabinet is able to be held up by the frailest of ladies.

While I held it up, Dan screwed in through the studs, marked by the laser line

And then he sunk a few more screws into a few more studs for good measure

With the big stuff in place, it was time for fun with plumbing.

First on that list was plumbing the water line into the fridge for water and ice!! anyone need a brita??

And then onto the VERY exciting plumbing of the dishwasher!!

Our super-silent model is a little noisier than it would be if it were mounted in an actual bank of cabinets, but it's pretty darn quiet.

<-- Check out the little red light on the floor.. that's the only indication that it's running

And, most importantly, it cleans the dishes!

One of the saddest parts about why I'm so excited about the dishwasher is how much easier it'll make doing laundry.. The washer also drains into that sink, and it's been such a drag to have to wash a full sink of dishes just to do a load of laundry! The odds of the baby still being asleep by the time the dishes are done are pretty slim, which means the laundry gets put off anyway until after the sink fills back up, and we go through the same game again.

This part of the kitchen looks more or less the same as it did before

But this part is very exciting!! Look at the cabinets! All our food is in there, hidden behind closed doors, safe from the dirt. And the cats have to work much harder to knock all the jars over. I found them on Craigslist, and they were cheap and perfect!

I'm thinking of stapling some fabric up to close off the room from the chimney chase. It'll look much better and should keep the room cleaner.

And here's the new counter/sink area. We have a net loss in counter space, but there's much less sitting ON the counters which gives us more room to actually prepare food (ok, please imagine I actually cleaned up the counters before taking this picture..)

The hanging cabinet is from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and was a fabulous deal for a well-made brand new wood cabinet.

And finally, the view into the room from the entry. I don't think we'll make it into any magazines with this kichen rehab, but it's SOOOO much nicer! Walking into the room actually feels like walking into a kitchen now.

Each iteration of the room is a million times better than the one before (check out how it was at first, then how it's been), and I expect that trend to continue when we finally redo the kitchen for real.