Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Big Remodel

The kitchen remodel has finally begun! We started last Saturday, a few days ahead of the contractor's arrival, by clearing everything out of the kitchen. Only then did we realize just how much stuff was in the kitchen. We moved carloads of food, dishes, and utensils over to Andrew's (the Vacation Home). And still there was more.

We had already moved the fridge into the living room about a week earlier. Wish I had some video of that little adventure. Our fridge is old, and heavy. We noticed after we had pushed it about halfway across the kitchen floor that the weight of the fridge was causing one of its wheels to leave a nice permanent indentation in the pine flooring. Terrific! Good thing the pine floor was destined for the dump (minus any salvageable boards), and will be replaced with tile. It was a heartbreaking sight, nevertheless. If you have ever priced heart pine flooring, you'll understand why. We managed to move the fridge the rest of the way through the kitchen by wheeling it over plywood scraps to its final destination. I guess desperation leads to creative solutions.

On Sunday, after clearing out all of the cupboards

and the Depression cabinet full of Blue Ridge china,

we tackled removal of the kitchen cabinets. The old cabinets were hand-built by the previous homeowner ("PHO" from here on out). The PHO was a fairly good carpenter, except where hanging things on hinges was concerned. Or, building drawers. I know this because the old cabinets had lots of doors, all slightly off-kilter on their hinges, and absolutely NO DRAWERS. Yup...a kitchen with NO DRAWERS. Try finding a place for your silverware, dish towels, spatulas, etc., in a kitchen with NO DRAWERS.

He couldn't build a drawer to save his life, but the PHO could build some strong plywood boxes, now. It took us about 2 hours to remove the two-part set of upper cabinets. One section came out completely intact.

The second set....well, let's just say I'm glad I own a Sawzall.

We managed to remove all of the cabinets without damaging the wall, and without any injuries.

On Monday, the contractor arrived! In just one day, he removed all of the lower cabinets, the sink, dishwasher, and old 1940's Maytag gas range, pictured here:

After that, he ripped out all of the heart pine floor boards, down to the house's original subfloor. After which the kitchen looked like this:

Wherever there is a plywood scrap in the photos, there is a hole beneath it, either due to weak, rotten wood, or water damage. By Tuesday, our contractor had ripped out most of the subfloor, too, in preparation for replacing it with new plywood. Here is a view of the kitchen, sans floor:

I continue to refuse to ever enter the crawlspace under any circumstances, so this is probably the only time I will ever see what lies beneath the house and actually be able to touch it. Very cool. Except for the dead snake he found. And the rat poo. But, that's another chapter.....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gainesville Cycling Festival!

It's that time of year again: our local bike club's annual 2-day Cycling Festival. Thursday night we helped stuff registration packets for the 590 or so cyclists who signed up to ride one or both days.

On Saturday, along with a small group of our Gainesville Cycling Club friends, we rode the Santa Fe Century, a 100-mile ride through scenic Alachua, Union, and Columbia counties. The proceeds benefit our local Boys and Girls Club. We started the day with a free pancake breakfast donated by IHOP. My feeling is, you can never have too many carbs before a ride. And never enough watermelon during a ride.

The Santa Fe route manages to avoid only 2 of the major hills of Alachua County. (Anyone who doesn't believe there are hills in Florida ought to come out next year and join us)! Saturday's weather was fickle. It started out overcast but warm. By mile 25 (High Springs), rain clouds were gathering. Between mile 25 and mile 50, light rain began to fall. Some of our group opted for hot coffee from a nearby convenience store rather than Gatorade once we reached the Myrtis rest stop.

The next 25 miles were damp and dreary, but at mile 75 (Worthington Springs) the sun came out again as we took a break under some live oak trees, looking skyward and watching the clouds zoom past.

We had a great ride at a comfortable pace (well, comfortable for all of us except Andrew, who kindly held back the speed for the benefit of us slowpokes). We averaged 16 m.p.h. for the entire ride, with a ride time of 6 hours, 15 minutes. Though Andrew has successfully ridden it many times (and much faster), I'm happy to have finished my first Santa Fe Century!

A photo of me at the last rest stop (Hague) before the finish: "we are HERE! Only 8 miles to go!"

Saturday night, after cycling 100 miles, we helped load trucks with supplies for Sunday's ride, the Horse Farm Hundred. I had signed up to ride a short 30-mile route, but it was so cold (47 degrees) and windy that I detoured onto the 25-mile route instead, so I could get back to Gainesville in time to help Andrew (a.k.a., "Crew Chief") serve hot dogs to our fellow cyclists as they finished the 55-mile and 100-mile Horse Farm rides. One hundred and twenty-five miles is plenty for one weekend.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Peanut mulch, at last!

We finally got a truckload of peanut mulch today. First time we tried to go, we were about 5 miles into the 20-mile drive to Williston when my truck's front brakes started acting up, pulling to the right, with smoke pouring out of the right front wheel, to the tune of $400 worth on new brake calipers. The next time, the mulch supplier felt it was too wet and muddy to risk getting stuck between the mountains of peanut hulls, and we had to cancel. Today being Columbus Day, and a Federal holiday (so I have the day off), and a Monday (since the mulch place is only open Monday-Friday), it was mulch-gettin' time!

We got a full truckload, about enough to weigh down my little truck real good, and make it hard to steer above 50 m.p.h.

We used up the entire load on the two flowerbeds in the front yard, and spread a good layer over exposed tree roots under the maple and redbud tree. Maybe this will coax some grass to grow, eventually.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beautiful day for cycling, the venue for our Big Day, and another rose in the garden.

On this beautiful October Sunday, Andrew and I woke up early so we could go for a bike ride with our friend, Barb. We drove to Andrew's house (or, as we call it, "the vacation home"), which is right next to the ride's starting point. We rode the Rush 55 (one of the routes offered during our local cycling club's annual fund-raising cycling event). The Rush 55 is one of my favorite rides, for a couple of reasons. For one, it's only 55 miles (57, actually), so we can ride it and be home early enough to do other things. But, mostly I love this ride because it takes us through some of the most scenic rural areas within an easy bike ride, including Evinston and Micanopy, FL.

The weather was great today, starting out cool and overcast, and ending up breezy and sunny by ride's end. Andrew and I have never ridden through Micanopy without stopping for ice cream. The 3 of us didn't hesitate today, either.

The Rush 55 happens to go right by The Herlong Mansion located on Micanopy's main street, Cholokka Boulevard. And, since The Herlong Mansion is where we will be married in May 2009, we pointed it out to Barb, who gave it her approval. The roses were all in bloom, and the grounds looked impeccable, as always. It's a gorgeous house, isn't it?

Andrew and I toured the Mansion (which is now a bed & breakfast) in August, and here are photos of one of its many guest rooms and an especially nice vintage bathroom.

You wouldn't think someone could get excited about really old bathroom tile, but this room has original subway tile with a double line of pale green pencil trim that is crazed with age, and it's just beautiful!
Here's a view of the brick walkway leading to the front porch, as seen from the upstairs veranda:

Speaking of roses, I was able to find the Rose Lady at the Farmer's Market, and have now planted the newest addition to the rose garden: Marie van Houtte. She is already putting out several new pale yellow buds tinged with pink.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The blue tile blues.

The countertop tile samples arrived at last from California and- the horror!- they are much, much darker in color than expected, almost a faded-denim blue, and very different from the image shown on the dealer's website. Yikes. Disappointing! So, we are back to square one, looking for tile for the kitchen countertop and backsplash.

On a happier note, our new kitchen cabinets were ordered today, the range hood arrived via FedEx, and we just got a great deal on this gas convection range on Ebay, at about 35% less than our local appliance dealer's price:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Busy weekend, more kitchen remodel progress, and a new kitchen table.

Saturday we went to the local farmer's market to find a rose bush I wanted (Marie van Houtte, with pretty two-toned yellow/pink fragrant blooms), but the Rose Lady was not there! Next we went to the Native Plant Sale, a twice-yearly event where local nurserymen sell only plants that are native to Florida. The idea is to promote growing that which belongs here, and promote the avoidance of invasive exotics. We bought several plants, including two native blueberry bushes, a Jaguar agave, hearts-a-bursting (I killed the last one; I made an exception to my plant-growing philosophy on this one, and I'm giving it a second chance), blue-eyed grass (one of my all-time favorite plants), and a dwarf variety of St. John's wort. If we're lucky, we may have fresh blueberries on our cereal next summer...mmmmm! The Rose Lady was at the plant sale, too, but sans roses, since they are not native, so I'll be looking for her at the Farmer's Market for a Marie van Houtte next week.
After all the shopping, we visited the Festival at Thornebrook, a local outdoor art show where I had been hoping to find the Furniture Guy (Scott) who last year sold me a beautiful hand-crafted wooden bench that we use as a coffee table. It's made of solid cherry inlaid with tupelo, a lovely blond wood with very interesting deep charcoal-gray grain patterns. The bench is so nice, I wanted to ask Scott whether he would custom-make a new kitchen table for us, also of cherry and tupelo. We found Scott's stall among the many vendors, and he remembered that I had bought the cherry/tupelo bench. As it turned out, Scott had recently been commissioned by a customer to make a 30x30" card table, but the customer had never picked up the finished table, which happened to be made of cherry and tupelo! We arranged to meet him again today and purchased our gorgeous new bistro-size kitchen table, perfect for the limited dining space in our eat-in kitchen.

Isn't it gorgeous? Turns out that Scott has known Andrew's family for years and used to fish out of their marina...very cool, and he is a very talented guy!

We weeded the garden,

made homemade bean and vegetable soup, and went to Home Depot to price a replacement window for the kitchen. (The current window is too big, and will need to be replaced with a shorter window to make room for the sink and cabinets below it).
We decided to omit over-the-range cabinets from our cabinet layout and forego the standard under-cabinet microwave/range hood combo. Instead, we will install a wall-mounted chimney-type range hood, to break up the monotonous "wall of cabinets."

I found a suitable range hood on Ebay, cheap, so now that's on order, too. I'm still waiting to hear whether the kitchen floor tile that I ordered and paid for has been shipped from Texas. I was told they have it in stock.

Here's a photo of the new floor tile (Daltile,Cotto Antico, Aranciato) and the natural-finish red oak cabinet finish we have selected. The cabinet doors will be beadboard, with plain slab drawers. My photo doesn't really do either justice.

Here is a better image of the tile, installed, with gray grout. I LOVE this look!

I'm currently in a bidding war with an Alabama gas range dealer who has the range that I want, but not at the price I want. The gap is narrowing, and I'm hoping he will let it go at something close to my price.
Finally, we haven't yet received the blue countertop tile samples from the tile supplier in California, so we can't make a decision there, either. Time's getting short. The tear-out is scheduled to begin on Oct. 20th. Somehow, Dixie doesn't seem worried about it.