Friday, December 31, 2010

Last post of the year

Well, it's the last day of 2010 and I am laid up with a cold. It's a heck of a way to ring in the new year! We wanted to cram in a few more odd projects before the clock strikes 12. In my condition, I'm supervising. Justin is the sole laborer today. The project du jour is new lighting for the garage.

Here are our new T8 fixtures with electronic ballasts. We had an old 8 foot T12 fixture. Since the lamps were fading, we decided it would be a fantastic time to install more efficient lighting. And, another bonus: no more 8' lamps with which to deal.

The outside of the garage gets some new security lighting.And, we have some handcrafted house numbers up in the back to help with back yard deliveries. Thanks Mom!
Happy New Year Bungalow readers!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Well, a few weeks ago I imagined the front door would be in by Thanksgiving. That didn't happen, but we did get the new back door installed before the turkey was roasted. Today, after 5 coats of urethane, we took on the front door. I don't have any before photos because Justin dove right into this project and had the old door off its hinges before I could grab the camera. The only thing remarkable about the old front door was the porthole that the former owner installed as a peephole. But, alas, that is done and we are getting rid of the 6 panel contractor-grade steel door and installing a lovely Craftsman-style fir door with 3 window panels for viewing who is knocking on the door.

Justin, pulling off the interior trim, cracking lots of plaster along the way:
Out with old and in with the new:

3/4 of the way there. We still need to install some hardware so we can latch and lock the door and have some insulating and trim work to do (another day):
Lookin' good, Beacon Hill Bungalow!


A welcome surprise came on Friday, clearly the work of Mother Nature's elves (does she have such things?). Apparently, trees are falling like pick-up sticks around here because a friendly tree service was finally calling with a load of chips. It smelled like Christmas trees around here all afternoon.

Here's the pile before--probably about 10 yards of mulch:

Our newly bedazzled yard, tucked in for the winter officially now (hope it's not too late, the cold snap came early this year!):

We have about a yard of mulch remaining and hopefully a neighbor will want to use it in their yard. It's free and it's a miracle worker on weeds.

Monday, December 13, 2010


My new favorite tool from Google: Google SketchUp! Aside from the water issues mentioned in the previous post, I have a vision for what our basement could become. I think I might get a side gig as an architect.

Thoughts? Comments? Feedback? I've got lots of time before we're ready to build this.

***And just for the record, the TV was Justin's idea.

Uh oh...

What do you get when you cross a porous foundation with 3" of steady rain in 24 hours? Why, a wet basement of course! We spent the better part of the summer installing drainage in the backyard but it wasn't enough to prevent the scene we awoke to Sunday morning.
So, now the question is, what do we do now? Luckily, our basement is unfinished and we probably only took on about 1 gallon of rain water. No harm done yet. But we have big plans for this space and 1 gallon of water puts a serious crimp in those plans.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whirlwind of a weekend

For the last few weekends we've been projecting but we haven't really finished much to showcase. But, alas, all of that tedious painting a sanding finally came to fruition. This weekend, we took on the back door and other assorted projects. Of course, we picked the coldest weekend of the year to tackle the project where the house has to be open but aside from some frosted fingers, we pulled it off.

Our new rear view: check out our renovated backyard!

It's weird getting used to all of that light in the back corner of the kitchen; I keep thinking we left the door open.

Out the front of the house, the view is decidedly uneven. This poor maple can't decide what color to be: orange or green. This is the most bizarre fall coloring I've seen:

Once the door was in place, we took on a bunch of other miscellany: refinishing the butcher block, touching up paint here and there, prepping the new front door for another coat of finish, and cleaning out the basement.

The butcher block has been holding up pretty well with the finish we applied but last month when I left a wet cast iron skillet on the wood, I was left with a stubborn rust spot. That, along with a few other imperfections were sanded out on Saturday and we have a new coat of oil penetrating the wood this evening.

Here's Justin sanding out the rough spots.

We carried the new front door into the basement because the urethane wasn't drying very fast in the cold garage. The basement is pretty chilly too but probably warm enough. I'll be add a couple of coats of finish to the door and before long, we'll be turning off the heat in the house again to install the front door. Brrrrr....

Here's Justin sanding out the rough patches where the finish didn't set up nicely due to the cold temperatures.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our next project

So, now that we have the interior doors painted and hung and privacy is no longer premium in this household, we have a few new projects in the queue. First up, exterior doors. Our lovely 6-panel steel doors are not long for this world...we've got a new front door and back door in the paint barn this week and if everything goes to plan, we might have a new front door before Thanksgiving. Wouldn't that be welcoming?

Justin in the paint barn working on the back door. It is mostly glass and we're hoping it opens up the back corner of the kitchen a bit.

Second in the queue are some drapes for the windows in the front of the house. At first I thought I'd make them and then I was feeling lazy so I started looking around to buy drapes and then I got cheap (and I didn't really find a pattern I liked either) so I'm back to the idea of making them. I'm zeroing in a fabric and would welcome any reader's opinions.

Here are the top contenders: (l-r) Red squares, gray/black whirly gigs, and gray links. If I go with either of the gray fabrics, I'm considering bordering the drape with red fabric to bring some red into the room.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Busy Boy

Justin was a busy boy today. He hung the rest of the doors and outfitted many of them with doorknobs and latches and the like. The only think holding him up was me...I was a little behind on my prepping the doorknobs and latches and the like.

Our linen closet, all buttoned up.

So, while I was finishing up the prepping of hardware, J moved onto relocating the light switch so that it wouldn't be behind the door in the bedroom.

The pocket door for the master closet with adjacent new light switch.Check out the period hardware on the spare bedroom door! Salvaged from our own home.

Trying to use up the expiring Chinook Book coupons for 2010, we stopped by Second Use, a used building supply store, and found two matching bifold doors for the second bedroom's closet in the right size and style all for about $75 which was a screaming deal for solid oak doors in a craftsman style. Yippee!! So, we'll have more door stories coming soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Justin and I have been hard at work, starting projects left and right. But all of this work has left precious little time for blogging so it's time to play catch up.

First, check out a finished project:

We made the really, we made the frame and headboard. I just couldn't bear the price of an upholstered bed from the store when the materials to DIY the bed were less than $200. So the bedroom is looking a little on the gray side but at some point I'm going to find some red and orange accents to liven the room up a bit.

So, how did we do it? The headboard is a separate piece and is actually mounted on the wall with french cleats. It was pretty easy...we cut a 3/8" piece of plywood and used a frame of 2x2s to shore up the plywood and give it some structure. Then we glued a piece of 2" foam to the front of the plywood and covered the foam and plywood with batting. We fastened the batting to the frame with staples, making sure that the batting was smooth. Finally, we covered the batting with the upholstery fabric, pulling the sides taut and stapling the selvage to the backside. For the bed frame, we cut 3/4" plywood 7.5" wide and to the lengths of the boxspring. We mounted 2x4s to two of the plywood strips to form and "L", giving a shelf for one side of the boxspring to rest on. Then we screwed the plywood strips together to form a box. Next, we added one 2x4 piece in the center of the box to hold up the boxspring (we have a king bed so there are actually 2 twin-size boxsprings). Finally, we attached furniture feet to the box to give it a little height off the ground and a finished look. There are 7 feet on this bed, one on each corner and three attached to the 2x4 in the center. I ordered the furniture feet online. And lastly, we upholstered the frame just like the headboard, except skipping the foam layer.

So, what else have we been up to? Check out those nightstands in the photo. That was another lengthy project. We sanded off the finish from two nightstands that I picked up from craigslist and painted and stained the bare wood to make them look like new. The feet are painted black and the rest of the box is stained a medium-dark finish. This was a lot of work. The sanding was tedious (and because we couldn't easily get all of the nooks and crannies, I decided to paint part of it). The painting took 2 coats + a coat of primer and the staining was a bit of a disaster. Let me warn everyone that you never want to buy the staining product that has stain and polyurethane all in one. It is a sloppy mess. The sheen was inconsistent and the color was streaky. I ended up settling with the streaky finish and going over the whole kit'n'caboodle with clear polyurethane for 3 coats. Luckily, polyurethane goes on and finishes like a dream.

So, there's my $300 of used and homemade bedroom furniture. I hadn't exactly planned to do this so much on the cheap but sometimes it just works out like that.

In other news, we finally have a bathroom door (upstairs). In fact, we have doors for all of the bedrooms and a few closets too now. Justin and I painted 7 doors over the last few weeks and have 3 of 7 hanging in their final home. We still need to attach the doorknobs and other hardware as well as figure out the strategy for hanging the other 4 doors (these require us to mortise out the frames for the hinges.)

At long last....Privacy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I'm too exhausted to even take photos. This was an action-packed weekend, even though it wasn't supposed to be. We didn't have any particular project plans so when the weekend hit, we just dug into the to-do list. Here's a recap:
  • Got 3 coats of paint on the nightstands
  • Prepared and canned a bunch of pear butter using my neighbor's Asian pears
  • Build a bed frame for our king bed (still need to upholster)
  • Thinned out the closet and got a box for Goodwill going; organized the storage in the basement to put up all of my canned tomatoes, pickles and jams.
  • Ran a bunch of chores around Seattle, mostly trying to cash in on Chinook Book coupons
  • Purchased and planted about 50% of the plants for the planting strip out front
  • Installed soffit vents in the garage
  • Repaired and rerouted the downspout on the back of the house
  • Prepped the interior doors for painting
Anyway, it was a lot and I'm exhausted now.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Up on the Rootop

A lot has happened since last weekend. Frankly a lot has happened since Saturday morning. We started off the weekend right on Friday night by heading to Georgetown for a few post work libations. On Saturday morning I was up and out the door to pick up our monthly meat delivery here on the hill. My dad was here promptly at 8:30 and up on the rooftop of the garage we went. 40 minutes later (he timed it) the old three tab roof was gone and in the back of the truck. Many hours later and a trip to town for more nails we had completely re-roofed the garage. It was great starting and finishing a project in one day! Now the garage looks just like the house. Same paint color, same trim, same roof. Just not the gutters. Yet.

Not to let the moss grow under our feet we started out today with a little cleanup in the garage and some sanding on Laura's nightstand project (I'll let her fill in the details on this little operation later). We were then off to the dump to unload the old shingles and then to the orange box to return some of the nails from yesterday and pick up some wire to finally hook up the garage electrical. For some reason when the previous owners of the house had the garage re-built (the original burned down) they had it wired with outlets and light fixtures but never had it hooked up to a power source. This has been a really long overdue task for me that I have been working on since the spring. After a few hours and one more trip to the blue box and the garage is officially wired. No more dragging extension cords around or using flashlights. It is done.

Laura was not sitting on the sidelines by any means this weekend. She planted a ton of new stuff including our new herb garden out front, diagnosed the problems with our washing machine and ordered the parts as well as continued the canning extravaganza. She is currently processing cucumbers for dill pickles. All in all another productive weekend.

Roof Removal Underway

Roof Complete with Vents!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


We planted 5 new trees this weekend and found a screaming deal on them to boot. We picked up two apple trees, 2 paperbark maples and one Japanese maple all from West Seattle Nursery. WSN was having the sale of the year...the prices were 50-70% less than Swanson's on trees. I'd been anticipating that Swanson's, with it's larger space, would have a better selection and comparable prices. NOT SO!

Pictured here (looking east): 2 espaliered apples and 2 paperbark maples amongst a bramble of raspberry vines that are just now starting to produce. The raspberries are moving as soon as the fruit ripens.

And our lovely-shaped, multi-trunk Japanese maple...planted between the house and garage.
We picked up a few other items as well like a red rhody to block the alley between our garage and the neighbor's and a bunch of herbs for our soon-to-be herb garden in the parking strip. I love the fall because you can plant without consequences and all of the nurseries are having end-of-season sales so the plants are cheap!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A high school reunion

Well, if there wasn't something in the water in 2010, I'd be surprised. We had a gaggle of 2010 babes over last night, all born within 5 months of one another and all born to Justin's best high school buds. Check this out:

L-R: Megan with Henry, Jay (Elizabeth's husband) with Esme, and Scott (Tory's husband) with little Colin.


What was that all about? Well, we've been busy redesigning the bedroom.

Check out our new paint color: Pussy Willow, by Rodda.
Justin rolled the field and I did all of the cutting in "by hand"...a true team effort. But wait, there's more: we built our own headboard too! I'll get a photo up in a few days once we have the darn thing mounted. Our new king-sized bed is coming on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Overhead in the bedroom last night:

Justin: Laura, you do a good hand job.

Me: Thanks Justin.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In a Jam, not a pickle

With the bounty of free fruit ripening up, I declared that this would be a canning weekend. I've been keeping my eyes open for a screaming deal on roma tomatoes but alas, no deals are to be had...yet. But the deal on blackberries and plums was too good to resist. Justin and I picked about 4 quarts of berries on Thursday and I went back out for another 2 quarts on Saturday and turned the whole lot into several half pints of jam.

Canned and ready to be eaten or given away as gifts! Half of the lot is plain blackberry and the other half is blackberry-cinnamon-cardamom jam.
On Sunday, we headed out for a little walk to my favorite plum tree that doesn't appear to be owned by anyone. The plums are small, about the size of large cherries but they have good flavor and they are plentiful. As, I write this, I'm simmering them down with some ginger root to make a tasty preserve. The canning will have to wait until the work week because the plum stew must cool so I can separate out the pits.

Mmmm....stewed plums.
We scoped out the cucumbers at our local fruit stand and they looked pretty picked over. My own cucumber vines in the garden have a lot of little gherkins but only one vegetable worthy of pickling. So, I'll be waiting until my cukes come in or I find a better selection elsewhere. In the meantime, I'll be searching for some *free* dill weed. There's an abundance of fennel around my neighborhood but I haven't stumbled on dill yet...and you call yourself a weed!

One other fruit I'm hoping to find a free source for is figs. We have a fig tree and it has yielded two ripe figs so far but it only has 5 figs on it total--it's pretty young. I'd like to make a fig jam since it makes a lovely hors d'oeuvre with goat cheese and bread. Let me know if you live on the hill and have more figs that you can handle.

And during all of this picking and simmering and processing, my lovely partner painted and painted and painted some more. He likes to zone out to his tunes with a paint brush in hand. Good thing because I've lost steam on the painting.

One more coat and some touch up and our garage is ready for her debut!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trimmed out

We added the final coat of the yellow this morning before it got too smokin' hot out. Just as the mercury was rising to unbearable levels, we got a coat or two on the windows and garage door. We'll have this project wrapped up by the week's end, I predict.

That old garage, she's lookin' pretty slick now...all matched up to the house.

Just a few more hits of white and blue and a little window box and she'll be looking good.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Color coordinated

We're pretty proud of ourselves...check this out:

The swamp man returneth and cleaned our garage.
All cleaned up and ready for her makeover:
Foundation coat, aka primer:
Top coat to match the house:
Now we're off to the store to see if we can find some inexpensive windows to replace the clunkers we have while the paint dries. More tomorrow...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An unexpected weekend

This weekend, we found ourselves unexpectedly at home and with very little for plans. We had planned to head out to the peninsula this weekend to Justin's family cabin but when everyone looked at the weather report, the rainy forecast scared us away. Much better to sit at home on a rainy day than out in the middle of nowhere. Which, is just about what we did. Justin napped and read his book for the majority of Saturday. Meanwhile, I schemed up some ideas around canning and craft projects and sold our old sofa on craigslist--the first step in our bedroom makeover in the works. On Sunday, the skies dried up a bit and we found ourselves scrounging around, trying to find on odd project or two to keep our D-I-Y urges satisfied.

Justin couldn't resist tearing into our garage to replace some rotten fascia. Believe it or not, we are probably only a week away from taking on this garage as the next big project. We'll be painting soon enough.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Milestones & Neighbors

My 100th's pretty clear I've had something to say! It's a fun reminder that this blog has become a regular endeavor...a frequent stopping place.

Well, enough with the analy, let's get on to the fun: we had our first block party!
As part of Seattle's "Night Out", we hosted a party for the 14 houses on our block sharing our alley. We had great turnout and met a few new neighbors and I think a fun time was had by all.

Here's an early-on shot of everyone taste-testing all of the delicious dishes that the neighborhood whipped up.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot

It was a really hot weekend for outside projects, although I think the folks on the east coast would welcome our 80 degree weather. I got a sunburn on Saturday and spent Sunday trying to even out the tan lines with no success. The other thing we did on Saturday was assemble the majority of the handrail for the deck. On Sunday morning, all that remained were one side of the stairs and several small pieces of blocking that needed to be cut and nailed into the foot rail. We still need to fill a lot of holes in the wood where the screws went in, caulk all of the joints, repaint the whole shebang and find and paint some post caps but as is, it looks pretty finished.

Alfresco dining? Yes please!

While I was stocking us up on groceries for the week, Justin swept out the whole garage and feeling a little short on projects, swept up the alleyway too. That Justin, he always loves a clean floor.

And in other news, Justin smoked his first salmon! Boy was it tasty. I'm accepting tried and true recipes incorporating smoked salmon--we have a lot of leftovers!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I think the saying is actually safety first but we've been without a railing on this deck for a good two months (and have averted all accidents!!). But we aren't going to leave it to chance any more, especially after discovering how delightful a brown derby or two can taste on a hot summer afternoon. We got the easiest parts in place this weekend before the big event of the summer: friends Heidi & Aaron tied the knot.

Next weekend, we'll tackle the remaining railing pieces, except for the one where Justin accidentally cut the bottom railing an inch too short :( For that one, we need to start from scratch and cut and paint and new piece.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Queuin' up

Mostly we've been painting railing parts for the past two weeks. Photos aren't too exciting. See:

We are queuing up for the weekend when we're going to try to assemble this bad boy of a railing.

In other less photogenic news...Justin wrapped up the plumbing on the north side of the walkway so now we have a spigot and hose on the garage. His plumbing skills have really improved since his first plumbing project when he took a whole day hooking up the ice maker in the new fridge at the last house.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Holidays blog readers. We had a busy and productive weekend around the house. Mostly we got busy in the painting barn (aka the garage) but we had a few other items we were able to check off the list.

Justin and I put the fascia and trim around the deck this weekend which was a chore! Believe it or not, the deck isn't square and plumb :( Moreover, everywhere we wanted to install a fastener for the trim, Justin seemed to hit a fastener that was installed in the framing. So, it took twice as long as can be imagined. We are going to need some tips on how to make nail holes inconspicuous in the Trex material because we have quite a few.

Decked out!
Meanwhile, while Justin fiddled with installing the trim, I painted our future railing. We don't have enough staging space so I'll be painting the railing in batches. This will be a slow project since it needs 3 coats.

Everything's drying out.

Justin moved all of the scrap lumber that we've had piled up next to the garage and we graded and moved some of our new soil into the bed between the garage and the house. It's now a ~12x12 blank slate in partial shade. We made a stop at the nursery to take advantage of some coupons and pick up a few plants to fill in around the edges. I see a paperbark maple tree in our future, just not today. Mostly we still have a blank slate left.

We picked up a hose reel to take care of a little organization problem in the front of the house. Unfortunately, the connection leaked in the new reel so it's going back to the store.

Before: messy eyesore!
During: Reeling 'er in.

After: stay tuned. The saga continues...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mending Fences

We've been capitalizing on the long summer evenings this past week and wrapped up the raised bed project last Wednesday. I decided to make one the crazy vine bed (zucs, cukes and beans) and the other the root bed (beets and radishes) for this season. I picked up another tomato and pepper plant to put in the sunny bed alongside the garage--you can never have too many veggies! (although, it is very likely that I will have too many zucchinis--that's 3 plants you see, all for the price of one.)

Our soon-to-be productive beds. We installed hardware (aka PVC pipe) that will allow us to make these into hoop houses in the winter and spring.

Additionally, I got some of the flowers and shrubs that I picked up over the past few weeks into the ground along the edges. I'm hesitant to get too carried away because I need to buy a few trees and get those placed in the right spots before I fill in with smaller landscaping AND I don't want to spend a fortune watering these little babes all summer to get them established. But, the fun of plant shopping continues to call to me so I'll probably succumb somewhat.

We had an action packed weekend and writing this I am pretty proud of us for getting it all in. On Saturday, we trucked it out to the lumber yard to pick up all of the trim for our new deck railing. Justin and I chopped it all up to size and sanded and primed the pieces to ready them for installation. We are going to get them all painted up with their final coat before we install them and then just touch them up once they're installed.

The painting barn in full production mode:

On Sunday morning (well, really it was about noon by the time we got underway) we bicycled over to Alki Beach for lunch. Returning, we dug right in with our paint brushes, applying another coat and running ourselves out of paint. With plenty of energy remaining (joking), Justin decided to take on mending the fence. We have to replace one of the posts since it rotted and fell over and then mount the end of the fence onto a new post.

Here's Justin in demo mode; his favorite job.