Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dining Room

One room at a time we are working our way through the craziness, and it is slowly becoming a home. The dining room is the only room we have all of the furniture for, (basically a table and chairs) so we began with that room. Paint, paint,  curtains, and more paint; that is basically the work that had to be done. Oh, and hanging a light fixture. So, here it comes, finished room #1. Woohoo! :)

We will take out the single door on the left of the mirror when we complete the kitchen renovations I think. But for now, I think it will act as a good barrier between the mess and the meals. :) 


Our table and chairs fit perfectly into this room and we finally have a wonderful place to hang our  copper (now a wonderfully oxidized turquoise) pendant light that we bought at the Restore almost 2 years ago.  

We have several very wide windows and we have discovered that curtain rods are ridiculously expensive.  It is a pole for goodness sakes... a bronze pole.  Why do I have to pay almost 40 dollars for it!?  I have some go-to places for cheap or second hand rods, but because we needed such a long one (120 inches min) I wasn't having any luck.  Thankfully, Simon is better at thinking outside the box about these things.  So, he made a curtain rod for me.  He will be writing a blog post on the particulars soon, because it was really an awesome project and a fraction of the cost of buying one from the store.  Here are a couple of close ups though.  

I took this photo to show that it is a solid piece, not the usual overlapping poles.  


I love how the dining room turned out.  It feels really nice to know that one room is complete.  Now, on to the next one.  

Kitchen Update

Lots of people have asked us lately how the kitchen is going.  We laugh because well... it isn't going anywhere for another couple of months at least.  We are currently saving money to pay for the renovations, and planning out exactly what we are wanting to do.
 I thought, though, that it wouldn't hurt to give a progress report.

The plan for the space, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is to convert the kitchen and one bedroom into a large, open kitchen and den space.  That will provide us with the open feel we enjoy, and a better entertaining space.  Before we moved in we tore down the wall that divided those two spaces and took out the chimney that was covered up inside that wall.  We have not yet taken out the fireplace completely, because it proved to be a job too big for mere human hands, and, pressed for time, we needed to wait to arrange borrowing/renting a power tool to complete the job.


Another pre-move in renovation that took place in this part of the house was the installation of a support beam on the ceiling and two corresponding wall beams.  The wall we tore down was a supporting wall.  So the second floor had to be reinforced one way or another.  We decided to make it a design feature, as well as a necessary aspect.  We found this awesome place called Old American Lumber.  They find old barns and churches from which to salvage floor boards and just any old wood in good condition they can get their hands on, re-milling it, and selling it.  Everyone we worked with was very friendly and definitely shared our passion for old wood.  We wanted some old wooden beams to use for the ceiling support, and two matching ones to frame the room and bring the two spaces together.  We ended up buying one 14 foot beam that measured 6'x8' and two 10 foot beams measuring 8'x8'.   Simon and a contractor we had met during our home buying process cut and installed the 6'x8' beam to support the second floor.  Our plan had been to use the other two as posts to support the beam, but after looking at them in person, we decided they would protrude from the wall too far.  Instead, we cut one of them down the middle and used the two halves for the side posts.  We, of course, were left with one full beam.  We do not have an exact plan for that yet, but I am pretty confident it will work its way into the renovations somewhere along the way.

Here is a close up of the beam.  It is a little darker in real life than it looks in this picture. 

 This is Buddy and Simon measuring and cutting the beams to size in our back yard.  

We had not planned to cut a beam in half, so we didn't have the perfect tool for the job on hand and we didn't want to spend another day on this project.  So they worked with what they had and it really turned out well.  I am glad we decided to handle cutting it ourselves rather than taking it back to the lumber place and having them do it.

Here is a halvsies shot.  The temporary supporting wall had to remain up until the ceiling was supported with the beam.  So this was the overlapping period.  You can see the top beam and the far right post are already installed.  
 Here is a close up of the left side (the kitchen is behind me) once the beams were all up and the supporting temporary wall was removed.

Here is the full, finished set.  Obviously, it will be a little easier to visualize once we have the wall by the door rebuilt (there was a pantry there that had to go when the wall came down) and the rest of the room and flooring finished.  All in all, we were really pleased with how the beams turned out and we were incredibly happy to have found Old American Lumber.  We have a lot of wood work we hope to do upstairs, so we will be going back to them for sure! 

The kitchen itself is very livable, albeit far from perfect. (it does look better now than it does in the above photo...)  It is, quite frankly, straight out of the 1940's, bringing with it all the glory that time period had to offer.  So, once the time is right, we will gut the kitchen, cabinets, floor, appliances (praise the lord) and all.  We have a pretty solid idea of what we would like to see happen in the kitchen, and we are in the process of figuring out what aspects are feasible in our budget, and what makes the most sense in terms of investing in the property.  Every penny we put into this house, we want to be able to get back when we sell it, and more.




Saturday, April 25, 2015

Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


Another perfect time to bake a cake: Easter!  Well, in my opinion, any holiday that revolves around a meal is fair game for cake baking.  The fact that we planned to spend easter alone, just the two of us, should not have to factor in at all!  
Carrot cake is probably my favorite type of cake, but I have always been a little wary to try baking one myself.  Something about the main ingredient being a vegetable made me feel like it could go terribly wrong.  But, this recipe sounded really simple and I have been on a roll with cakes lately so, I thought I would give it a try.  One benefit of baking for just you and your husband: no one will know if you flop :)
I first saw this cake recipe on a blog via Pinterest.  I changed a few things around, but not many, and only for convenience sake.  

Ingredients:

3 cups carrots, finely shredded
1 cup applesauce (I used cinnamon applesauce)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Frosting:
16 oz cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

Grease and 2 four 8-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
Finely shred and chop carrots. ( I used baby carrots because I didn't have to peel them, and I had them on hand.  I also ran my carrots through the grating blade on my food processor and then re chopped them all briefly with the regular blade.  It gave them a good consistency I think)

In a large bowl, combine liquid ingredients.
Add in the sugars, whisking until combined. 
Stir in carrots. 
Add dry ingredients in several batches until well combined and no streaks remain. Divide batter between prepared cake pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes or until easy to handle. Transfer cakes to a wire rack and allow them cool completely.
Wrap cakes well in plastic and chill for several hours or overnight. 

Frosting: 
In a large bowl beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and cinnamon until well incorporated.  
Add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until fully incorporated. 

Ice the top surface of the bottom cake and then carefully place second layer on top.  I run a layer of icing around any gab that is between the two layers so it is more even and easier to ice the sides later.  
Then, Ice the entire cake, beginning with a large portion on the top and working your way out from the middle and down the sides.  I did a messy, whipped texture, because the frosting was so thick and sturdy.  Some frosting wont hold its shape well enough, but this frosting was wonderful to work with! 
Chill cake until ready to serve. 


If you follow the link to the blog, you will notice that the original recipe made a 4 layer, square cake, and called for 4 cake pans, containing much thinner cakes of course.  I strayed from this for 2 reasons.  The main one, I do not own 4 cake pans, round or square, and I did not want to have to bake 2 batches, cooling and cleaning the pans in between.  Second, 4 layer cakes contain a lot of layers of frosting.  And usually I just find them too rich; regardless of how delicious the frosting may be.  I still could have cut these two thicker layers in half and it would have yielded a 4 layer cake, although this was definitely less of a hassle, and probably cut down on the richness.  


As I said earlier, this frosting was really wonderful to work with.  Im going to definitely use it for other recipes in the future! However, the inside layers on the slices would have probably been more defined and prettier if I had done what you are supposed to do: Spread the frosting between the cakes, as well as a thin later on the whole cake, and chill it again before frosting the final coat. But I had waited long enough for the cakes to chill so they would be easy to frost, I didn't have the time or patience to chill them even longer.  Regardless, it turnout out well enough for a first carrot cake go-around.  
We ended up having another couple over for Easter lunch; Our friends Patrick and Diana, who, like us, don't have family in town or close by.  I also took the cake to our bible study group on Tuesday, so it was all eaten, and not just by me and Simon.  

Tripple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake




I wish there were more occasions for  bakeing cakes.  I really enjoy doing it.  Simon and I just would not be able to eat an entire cake alone, despite, what would be, our best efforts, and most of it would  to end up going to waste. So anytime there is a party or get together where cake is appropriate, I volunteer.  And then the hunt for the perfect recipe begins.
Ever since Pinterest came along, I have a healthy stockpile of recipes waiting to be tried. One such recipe I have been excited to bake (and taste) I saw on the cover of  Southern Living Magazine a few months back: "Tripple Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake".  It looked like chocolate paradise so, I had to try it at my next opportunity. 
I took it to an "our job is done" dinner for our minister search committee, and several people asked me for the recipe.  So, here it is:

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose cake flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar 
large eggs, at room temperature 
1 1/4 cups buttermilk 
2 teaspoons instant espresso 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels 
Shortening 

CHOCOLATE GLAZE 
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels 
3 tablespoons butter 
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
BUTTERMILK GLAZE 
1 cup powdered sugar 
to 2 Tbsp. buttermilk 
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°.  Using shortening, grease and flour  a 12-cup bundt pan. 
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. 
Beat 1 1/2 cups butter in a medium bowl at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. 
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yolk disappears. 
Combine 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, espresso and vanilla.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at a low speed after each addition. Fold in bittersweet chocolate morsels. Pour batter into a well-greased pan. Sharply tap pan on the counter to remove air bubbles
Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack 20 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on rack.

 Prepare glazes:

Chocolate Glaze: 
Combine semisweet chocolate morsels, 3 Tbsp butter, and 1 Tbsp corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on MEDIUM power (50% power) for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until morsels begin to melt, stirring after 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

 Buttermilk Glaze: 
Whisk together powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. buttermilk, and 1/4 tsp vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Add up to 1 Tbsp buttermilk, if desired. 
Drizzle warm glazes over cooled cake. 


Monday, March 30, 2015

Charleston Weekend

After our move, Simon's traveling, and house projects, we decided a weekend away would do us some good.  I think we were right.  We are blessed to live near a lot of refreshing destinations: the mountains, the beach, neat cities like Atlanta and Savannah, and our destination of choice, Charleston.

We took off after work on Friday evening ad arrived a little after 9:00.  We got settled into the Marriot and decided to stroll into down town.  We had been recommended a place called Closed for Business, on King street, the street that runs through the center of basically everything in Charleston.  

It was a really neat place, I wish I had been able to take pictures that did it justice.  

  
Breakfast is my favorite type of meal to eat at a restaurant, especially on vacations, so when we discovered our hotel did not include a breakfast, as we had thought, I was not incredibly disappointed.  

Saturday morning stop number one: TOAST :)
It was quite a long wait, as were all of the restaurants around us, it appeared.  But worth it!

We spent most of Saturday afternoon walking up and down King Street, driving around to look at the beautiful, old houses, and just enjoying having no plans.  We scouted out where we would eat dinner and then went back to the hotel to freshen up.  
There are lots of horse drawn carriages trotting through the streets.  The next time we go I would like to take a tour on one.  There is so much history in the city, I think it could be really interesting.  


Amen Street had been recommended to us, so that was our dinner destination.  
The food was so delicious, and equally priced.  :)

My handsome dinner date.

After dinner, we still had lots of daylight, so we went to the pier and actually spotted some dolphins right up next to us.  If we had been at sea level, we could have touched them they were so close.    Couldn't get a picture, but it was a fun moment.  
We walked around some more and went into some cute local shops.  

Breakfast number two: Three Little Birds

Another very cute little place, a little off the main area, so the wait wasn't near as long.
Sunday was to be our last day in Charleston, so we got a little bit of an earlier start.  After breakfast we drove over to Battery Park.  It is right on the water, and has a lot of beautiful trees and is surrounded by gorgeous houses.  


On our walk through the pretty, old neighborhoods.
 
As we were heading out, we spotted a long market that stretched through the streets.  We took a walk through there, grabbed a snack at a fuggery, and then drove back to Greenville in time for dinner.  

We were blessed with some beautiful weather, despite a dreary forecast, and we both felt rejuvenated after a couple of days with no responsibilities or plans.  Those are some of the best vacations, the ones where you are just together and you don't do much of anything. 

Move-in Day

Well, needless to say, I am incredibly behind on blogging about all of our house happenings. We have had quite a bit going on: fun and exciting things, some stressful things, and some life things that nobody enjoys dealing with but are inevitable.  
A few weeks before moving day we found out that Simon would be going on a fairly lengthy business trip spanning over the week before we would move and our move itself. That, naturally, interfered with our pre-move-in work schedule for the house. Suddenly, the little finishing touches we had hoped to be working on in the final days before we moved were pushed to the back burner as we had to reprioritize what we wanted to have finished before we moved in. Painting for instance, as it is tedious and time-consuming, unfortunately was not something we were going to be able to finish.
One priority was the electricity.  We had discovered a problem requiring us to shut off the power in all but one room. It was quite the ordeal, there was extreme extension cord usage: Power cords snaking off into all areas of our workspace and us becoming incredibly reliant upon our work light after 6 PM.  Unfortunately, this project was going to take more man hours that we had at our disposal.  But that was really the only "big" task that we weren't able to complete.  So we aimed out energy at the other big things: the water heater, the heat, finishing as much painting as we could in what would be our bedroom so that there would be at least one area in which to retreat from all the craziness.

Simon was scheduled to leave on February 15th and would return March 3rd.  
His business trip took him to Oman, a country next to Yemen. I had to look at a map.  There was a nine hour time difference and a lot of work to be done on both ends of our worlds, so we didn't get to talk very much while he was gone, but it was probably for the best.  I was able to focus on packing and prepare our new house as well as the apartment we moved out of.

The big day finally arrived! Moving day!  Everything was set up.
I had an awesome crew of friends planning to arrive at 10 AM
They would come with several pick up trucks and trailers
 We had scheduled movers to take care of the really big stuff: the washer and dryer, an armoire, our kitchen table.
(Those are just things that are no fun to move, incredibly heavy, and very time-consuming. We decided to leave that to the professionals this time around).
  The morning went really smoothly! Everyone was able to empty the apartment in less than two hours and head over to the house.
 Everything was coming up Reinhardt.

And then, the movers didn't show up.
  I had stayed behind at the apartment to wait on the movers and had planned to meet the others later to help unload and instruct the movers on where to unload the furniture. But, the window for their arrival came and went, as did an extra hour, and the pickup trucks full of boxes have been unloaded at our new house, and there was no phone call or contact made from the movers.
Their office is closed on Saturday, so I had no way of contacting them and they were choosing not to contact me so I was stuck.   
I finally had to come to terms with the fact that they just weren't coming.  So, after a moment of mild panic and a couple of "why me" moments, we came up with a new plan. My amazing friends offered more than I could hope to ask for. They stayed and regrouped back at the apartment and loaded all of the furniture onto the trucks and trailers. This was definitely another  moment where I stood back and thought of how blessed I am, how blessed we are.   This was a moment where I was rendered completely useless. I could barely budge any of these pieces of furniture off the floor, let alone carry them down two flights of stairs and onto a trailer, by myself or with someone else. I couldn't even help in the process. I was completely useless, and still it was all taken care of, no one muttered a complaint or a groan, and I didn't really even have to ask.  God has definitely led us into a beautiful stage of life and I hope we never take it for granted.  

So, back to the house: remember how I said we didn't have electricity? Yeah, that came into play as the evening wore on. Since the day had not gone quite as expected, we were wrapping up the whole moving process a lot later than anticipated.  It was pitch black outside, we had no lights in the house, and we were still carrying in boxes of furniture, hangers full of clothes, (because I had ordered wardrobe boxes through the movers that never came), we were wearing flashlights around our necks and stumbling over each other as we tried to get the stuff into the house in some sort of orderly fashion.  My initial plan had been, once things were settled, to arrange a few side lamps and floor lamps throughout the bedroom and bathroom to have some light for evening functionality, but because of the late hour I hadn't been able to do that.  Several people offered for me to stay with them that evening and I took them up on it.  Part of me, the prideful part, wanted to be able to make it through the first night at our house, not letting the frustrations and challenges of the day hold me back, but it just wasn't possible. So I had to put aside my pride and ask for even more help.  

The next day, Sunday, I went back to the house to evaluate the situation. I set up some bedside table lamps, a lamp in the hallway, a floor lamp in the bedroom, and I precariously placed a table lamp on a bathroom shelf.  Things seemed less complicated, less menacing, less overwhelming, with a little light.
As, I suppose, most things do.    

So, in summary, moving day was both a disaster and a success - neither of which was due to any effort of my own.  I took away several thoughts from what was, hopefully, our last move for some time.  The first of which, and least important, was how much I hate moving out of the top floor of a building.  It is just no fun any way you swing it.  The second, sometimes, despite our greatest efforts, we just can't control what happens.  We can plan, prepare, schedule, but it is futile and the quicker we can come to terms with that, the quicker you can move on.  And finally, I can recall few notable occasions in my life, good or bad, that weren't affected, even defined, by spectacular, loving, genuine people.  The older I get, the more I am convinced that this is the way God intended for us to do life:  Together, a cord of three strands, for better or for worse, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.        

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wicked

For Christmas we got ourselves tickets to see Wicked at our local theater.  Such a fun musical, and an exciting present.  The only bad thing being that we had to wait 2 months!

Well, the weekend came and we finally got to use them.  
Two friends of ours from church, Hayley and Charlie, bought tickets with us, so we made dinner reservations and made a night of it.  



cheers before the show


We tried out Tupelo Honey Cafe for the first time, a nice, southern comfort, North Carolina originated, restaurant.  We had heard goof things and were certainly not disappointed!  From the pre-meal biscuit to the fried okra and mashed sweet potatoes, it was some of the best food I've had in awhile!
The theater, like the restaurant, is downtown, so we were able to park before dinner, walk to the restaurant and then, from there, the theater.
This is the closed curtain.  
Me and Hayley before the show.  


We had both seen the show before, all of us except Charlie actually, but it doesn't make it any less exciting or entertaining.  It was a fun night with good friends and good food. :)
I hadn't realized how nice our local theater was, I'm looking forward to taking more advantage of it in the future.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

  • I  always excited to find a recipe that I really enjoy. Especially when it is easy to throw together. I came across this recipe on chef-in-training.com and had to try it.
  • I love everything lemon, and I usually prefer desserts that aren't too sweet. 
 This had great flavor and texture and, in my opinion, was just sweet enough :). 


  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature 
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla. 
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Lemon Glaze  
  • 1½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix butter, sugar, and lemon zest together for 3 to 5 minutes until creamy. 
  3. Add eggs one at a time and beat an addition minute after each egg. Add vanilla. 
  4. In a separate large bowl, wisk together dry ingredients. 
  5. Add flour mixture alternatively with the buttermilk to the wet ingredients.
  6. Lightly flour blueberries to keep them from sinking in your bread pan. Fold them into the batter. 
  7. Grease and flour large bread pan
  8. Pour in batter.  (I filled one bread pan 3/4 of the way, and had some batter left over, so I made 4 muffins. 
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 to 60 min. I baked the muffins for 15 min. 
  10. Let loaf cool and drizzle with glaze.    I actually decided not to glaze the muffins, so I could eat them for breakfast without feeling like I was having dessert. Ha. 
Lemon Glaze
  1. Whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth.

I will definitely be making this again soon. It is a perfect spring/summer treat. :)

Here is the link to the original recipe 
http://www.chef-in-training.com/2014/05/lemon-blueberry-pound-cake/  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Painting the House

Due to some unforeseeable timing issues, all of our painting plans had to be expedited a bit, in order to get everything done in time to move into our house at the end of this month. 
This was the week for the brick masons to start taking down and rebuilding the fireplace, the week that Simon and our contractor would be putting up a beam in the kitchen, and now, the week for painting the house.  
Needless to say, we have a lot going on.
Thankfully, we also have a lot of really spectacular friends.

Because of the age of the house, and the style differences between us and the previous residents, we made the decision to paint the entire house from ceiling to baseboard.  I  think it will have the most powerful effect on making the house look fresh, and feel like our own. 
Up until now, we have done a lot of demolition, cleaning, scraping, and undoing yucky things from the past owners. But now is the chance to finally pull something back in order. Only working in the house on the weekends has really made it easy to not get burnt out on the renovations.
It also means, however, that the pace seems slow. 
Every week we go back and it seems as though the messy house we have taken apart is still the same messy house we started with.   Despite all of the work that we put in, despite all of the money we have spent on materials and tools, it just seems like it's in a constant state of disarray. Painting seems to be the first step to completing a project. Of course, all of the demolition and undoing is for a good cause, and in the end will come together for a great effect. But we are in the phase right now of plastic draped floors, no light fixtures, and messy everything. 
While I have been incredibly excited about finally getting some paint up on the walls, picking out paint for every room in the house, when you've never had a house of your own to paint, can be a little overwhelming.  I made a lot of friends at Home Depot while talking myself through most of the color choices.  But, after lots of Pinterest browsing for paint colors that I liked and an embarrassingly long time in various hardware stores, the paint was decided upon, the supplies was purchased, and painting weekend was begun.
What I thought would be a day of hard work with various helpers in and out over the course of the day, turned out to be a lot of hard work and a rockstar group of friends who stayed an entire Saturday getting dusty and painty to get our house in order. Seriously, between prepping the ceilings and walls, taping off where we needed to, painting the ceilings, and painting the walls (not to mention trim work) I cannot even imagine where we would be if we had done it just the two of us.  Instead though, we got an incredible amount of work done and the house is really starting to take shape! I am so thankful for wonderful friends willing to sacrifice their weekend to put in some hard work with us. They have been a huge blessing through this whole process and I don't know where we would be without them. 









Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sanding Ceilings

As if taking down the popcorn treatment wasn't enough ceiling fun, we have now moved on to sanding.  Although taking down the textured popcorn finish was an aesthetic choice, the sanding step is not; In order to paint the ceiling after taking down all of the popcorn, sanding is necessary.  

For one, there is popcorn residue (ew).
  But also, removing the ceiling texture treatment reveals all of the imperfections on the ceiling.  You are, probably, able to see where the main support beams are, where old light fixtures may have been, etc.   Because the texturing of the ceiling hid all of that, there was no real reason for the ceiling to be perfectly smooth or uniform before.  
 Our home had a lot of random things, like hooks screwed into ceilings, or areas where the joint tape was showing through.  Of course we wanted to fill in those holes with spackle, along with the little gouges that were made during the removal process, so we had to sand those areas afterwards anyways.  Overall, the sanding allows the painting process to go a lot smoother and allow the final result to look cleaner.  



It is much easier than taking down the popcorn.
It is much messier than taking down the popcorn.


Supplies:
- a roll of fine grain sand paper
-sanding sponges
- 2 extension poles
-2 ceiling sander attachments
-goggles that seal around your eyes
-face mask or respirator
-Spackling ( we like the kind that starts pink and dries white)
-putty knife


Before we did anything to the ceilings we had laid plastic film over all of the floors.  The popcorn was so messy that we had to take up all of the film to dispose of the popcorn.   So before we could begin the sanding we had to lay plastic down again.  This will be the same plastic we keep on the floors during all of the painting, so the plan is not to have to do this step again.  It is so time consuming!


Our friends Patrick, Diana, and Michael came over last Saturday and helped us lay the plastic, spackle the ceiling, and begin the sanding.  It was a huge help and most definitely a time saver.



The guys were tackling a project in the other room, so Diana and I were left to sand, after all the spackling had dried.

We donned all our safety gear which, in this case, is more for self preservation and stamina than protection from any actual hazards.


  There is so much dust that you would only be able to stand it a few minutes without any face protection on.   Diana and I both felt like we had plaster in our mouths after only a bit of sanding, even with the masks.  Messy stuff y'all. 

I found the whole process easiest if I stood on a step stool and used the extension pole - it gave me a good angle.  No matter the method, ceiling work is a killer on your shoulders, so being able to smoothly  sand back and forth without getting stuck is really a must.  Being 5'2", trying to use the pole while standing on the floor was just not working out. Once I found what worked for me, the whole thing went really quickly.  

The sanding was spread over the course of 2 work days.  It took about 4 or 5 hours (mostly working alone) to sand the dining room, hallway, living room and bedroom.  Nothing compared to taking down the popcorn!

So this is a, rather dark, picture from the hallway that shows the ceiling with dried spackle over cracks and grooves. 

Here is a shot, post sanding.
This is not the same area as the first picture, but this spot looked the same.  The ceiling imperfections are still there, of course, along with the white areas that are now smooth with spackle, but you can really see the difference.  It looks so much smoother and will take to the paint so much better.

  The next step is to wipe down the ceilings so there is not dust.
Then, PAINTING!  woohoo!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

From Bedroom to Den: Part 2

Before            &           After


After the Popcorn Ceiling project was completed, we went back to finish up the kitchen, and soon-to-be den, project.  A couple of weeks ago we took down all of the panel board and plaster board from the "bedroom" side, thus starting the From Bedroom to Den project.

So, to start on the kitchen side, we first had to tear down the plaster board.  We knew from speaking to the contractor, that the chimney had once been a fireplace for the bedroom side and a stove for the kitchen side.  
Once we started tearing down the plaster we found where the stove had been connected.  It was full of ashes, so we had to start by getting a lot of them out.    
Simon scraping the ashes into the a bucket.  

The next step was to take out all of the insulation.  Ew.  
Ashes and insulation: both messy, unpleasant business

After we were insulation-free, we had to cut out the studs.  The studs on the old bedroom side of the wall are holding up the second floor, so we can't take those down until we put up a supporting beam.  But the other side, the one in the kitchen is just studs, so out they came.   

Before     &    After

It is starting to look less and less like a wall every day.  Next step, first floor chimney.