Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do Not Touch Unit

Josh has this week off of work so he has been busy upstairs scampering around in the attic working on the low voltage wiring. Too tired to shower last night, he crawled into bed and fell right asleep. This morning he really wanted to take a shower, but I prevented him because the shower door people were due to arrive any moment and I figured, why create another lake in the middle of our new bathroom when we didn't have to? 

Well, five hours later they finally arrived and installed our doors. The good news is that the shower doors look even nicer than we expected. The bad news is that we can't use the shower for another 48 hours. Lordie. The above pic is how dirty my sweetie got today. Notice that his smile gets bigger the dirtier he gets. There wasn't even a remote option that he wasn't going to shower tonight. The layer of grease and grime on him was so thick that could have scraped it off. We went over to Jonathan and Arminda's to shower tonight. Believe me, this was no small act of generosity. Jonathan's offer to hose Josh off before getting into the shower wasn't such a bad idea. Now we are fresh and clean. Josh did get the clothing dryer installed yesterday which is extraordinary. I've done about twenty loads in the last 24 hours. So much freshness we can barely stand it. 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Hungarian and His Latte

The Hungarian electrician is back. He cut his price by 30% for the upstairs which actually brought it back to the original price he quoted us ages ago, so we couldn't say, "no". That and the fact that he started the wiring yesterday and will likely be done by tomorrow, Sunday, sealed the deal. Three days. Love it. Love it.

The Hungarian loves his morning coffee. He always makes a big production out of it. As you may recall, I stopped making him coffee in the morning while he was doing the downstairs wiring a few months ago when I got frustrated with him. Boy, did I show him. So, last week when he and his Mexican helper were here, I offered to get them coffee. Yes, I was feeling generous that morning. It may sound silly, but a cup of coffee ain't cheap anymore! And when you're already paying someone like an electrician or a plumber a pretty hefty wage, it pains me to spend $2 buying them a cup of coffee. Illogical and stupid, but I can't help it. I've also started an informal tally of people's eagerness for me to buy them a cup of coffee in the morning. In general, I have found that the harder someone works overall, the less they demand that cup of coffee in the morning. The less speedy folk seem more desperate for me to get them a cup. Now, the Hungarian is actually a fast diligent worker who is also eager for his coffee, so he is throwing off my statistical analysis. He is extremely chatty when he's not working though. I clearly need to define the scope for more data analysis for better results. 

So, back to my fascinating tale: the Hungarian asks me to get him a large latte and a croissant. I chuckle a little bit and agree. I look to his helper, Adam, and ask what he would like. The Hungarian responds for him and says that he would also like a latte and a croissant. I'm sorry, but no one else who has ever worked for us over the years has ever requested a latte let alone a croissant. And I have an impossible time believing that Adam really wanted a latte and a croissant. I dutifully went on my way to fetch them their lattes and croissants. 

Since we signed on for the upstairs electrical, the Hungarian has started buying us coffee in the morning and even bought us pizza for lunch today. Now that's what I'm talkin' about. Look how easy I am to please! 

On an amusing sidenote, Josh has taken to mimicking the Hungarian around the house as he works up there with them. He screams, "Adaaaaam!" periodically as he wanders around the house. Adam loves it and the Hungarian doesn't know quite how to respond. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Monkey

We have finally moved into the studio! It's hard to believe it, but it's true. Moving out for six weeks was the best thing we ever did. The studio still has some finishing work to be done, but all in all is looking great. At least I think so. It's already so much easier not having to run over here at 7:30 to greet contractors. Just being able to retire downstairs to rest is another bonus. The bathroom is the biggest bonus, however. We are still living out of boxes, but I don't care. We have our own little kitchen and our bed and our puppy back. Who needs a shower door when you have a puppy to cuddle with?

General Updates: We passed our framing inspection upstairs last week! This was our last big hurdle, so now it is really full speed ahead.

Plumbing: We got the final inspection on the plumbing downstairs and the rough inspection upstairs on Friday. 

Electrical: The electrical started today upstairs and amazingly enough will hopefully be done by Sunday. As the boys finish the electrical this weekend, Josh will do the low voltage wiring throughout. 

Next we're on to the insulation and in my dreams we will be able to start the sheetrock by the end of this coming week. That will take two weeks though. I fully appreciate now how difficult sheetrocking is and how important a good taper is. Funny things I never knew before -- that there are rockers and then there are tapers. Very different skills. 

The picture is of Josh marking a circle on the ceiling where he needed the carpenter to cut a hole for the range vent. 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vintage Hardware

I am such a sucker for antique Victorian hardware. It's one of things I've been looking forward to most with this remodel. That and the ceiling medallions. Weird, huh? Mortise locks are a little tricky to install, but the guy that we're getting the doors from will hang them for us with our pesky antiques. Just need to make sure that the mortise locks and left and right reversible. Fascinating, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

White on White

It may sound dull, but we've gone all white for the bathroom. I wanted to go classic Victorian, so we went with white subway tile. I doubt they had white subway tiles in the 1880s. Come to think of it, they wouldn't have had any indoor plumbing in 1880 and thus, no need for tile inside. So I'm not sure why I'm calling it "classic Victorian". Anyways, we've spiced it up with two rows of these deco-inspired tiles in the master shower. The second bath gets the same treatment except for a yummy row of white polka dots. I couldn't resist. 

Approximately 60 days until The Cupcake arrives. 



Here's the Wolf range that I got from our Craigslist appliance guy. She's a little banged up since she's 3.5, but I think she'll clean up pretty easily. At a fraction of the original retail price, who's complaining?

Counters and Backsplash!

The tiler installed the slab on the counter yesterday and the tile for the backsplash today. All the tile work is done! Yet again, I am surprised about how different tile looks after the grout is added. Luckily, for the better. 

The plumber is coming tomorrow to put in the faucet, dishwasher and sink in the bathroom. 

Meanwhile, we FINALLY got that pesky beam approved by the city which means we can finally finish the sheetrock and painting in the bedroom area of the studio. Cesar was back at work finishing that area today. He just needs to finish that back there as well as the baseboard trim and then paint. And we need to install the appliances. But that's it! 

We really are moving back to the studio this Saturday. It's crazy how much we've accomplished in the last six weeks. 

We've lined up Pat's roofer to do the kitchen area on Friday. We'll install the skylight in the kitchen on Saturday. We will schedule the framing inspection for early next week and then it is full speed ahead. The framing inspection is the only real hurdle ahead. 

We have three sheetrockers coming out to give us estimates for the upstairs this week. 

Today, Elder and I tried to figure out exactly how high the towel bars and toilet paper holders are supposed to be. This pregnant lady was trying to squat in the bathroom area to determine the optimal height. We'll see how that measurement turns out! 

Monday, June 15, 2009


There are no pickups at the house today. I don't like that. I've concocted a new plan of attack that will have everything finished by August 14th. That gives us the 15th to move the bed and crib upstairs. And cupcake will arrive on the 16th. Let's hope she gives us an extra week. That would be nice. 

Current update:

Studio - 
- The kitchen counters and backsplash are going in tomorrow.
- The finishing for the electrical work downstairs is done. That means the trim on the cans, the light switches, light fixtures, under counter lights etc. Much nicer. 
- Toilet has been installed. Hoorah! Shower head and trim installed.
- The plumber will come later in the week to finish the kitchen area and we will install all the appliances.
- The closet doors and bathroom door have been installed.
- The only thing we're really holding our breath on is getting this stupid beam signed off by the city. As soon as that's finished, we can seal up the bedroom and then finish the trim work back there and then paint all the trim.

Either way, we are moving back into the studio this weekend. 

- The framing is done enough to get it inspected. 
- Half of the new windows are in. Gorgeous. 
- The rough plumbing upstairs is done.
- In order to get the framing inspection done we need to get a roofer out to finish some stuff up above that f'd up area in the kitchen. We can no longer see into our grumpy neighbor's house. Thank God. 

If all goes as planned, electrical will start next week. Please let it start next week. Getting sheetrocking/taping estimates right now. I am ready to rock. 

Today, I am driving out to Hayward to meet with our magical appliance guy today. He has a 3.5 year old Wolf for me with minor damage at an amazing price. Fingers are crossed that she's operational. I am optimistic. 

Now that the framing is completely done, I can order the cabinets for the upstairs kitchen and the tile for the two bathrooms since that will take about 4-6 weeks. Plan to wrap that up in the next day or two. Vavoooooom!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A San Francisco Moment

I went to Progressive Grounds yesterday which is the coffee shop around the corner from our house. It is truly our second home. On average, I go there 2-3 times a day. I mosied over to the couch in the corner with my bagel and carrot juice (thanks for the reminder, Aunt Liz!) and received a big smile from the other woman on the couch as I started to settle in. 

"I'm a mom too. I feel so incognito today since my son isn't with me." Couch Lady

"Ah, well, I'm not officially a mom yet." Me

"It's a special club that you're a part of now. You'll see." Couch Lady

"Yeah, that's what everyone told me. The mother's community is a little different than what I was expecting. The people that have been consistently reaching out to me around here are all the teenage girls. They are very sweet and always stop me and ask how far along I am." Me

"Huh. Has your midwife introduced you to the other women in your birth month yet?" Couch Lady

"Uh, no. I'm not really part of any groups. Actually, we don't have a midwife. In fact, we don't have a doula either. Very un-San Francisco of us, I know." Me

"Oh. Where are you giving birth?" Couch Lady

"CPMC. Probably the most unfriendly doula hospital in the city, but I really like them." Me

"Oh, that's nice. You should really check out the mother's groups. My mother's group is meeting next week with our midwife in consideration of having our second child." Couch Lady

"What does that mean, 'in consideration'?" Me

"I'm not sure exactly, but we just like spending time with our midwife." Couch Lady

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Molding Moulding?

I went to Beronio last week to look at moldings for the upstairs. Beronio is like a wood superstore. Molding is yet another thing that I didn't realize that you have to have all picked out even at the framing stage to make sure that you leave enough room for the casings on the doors, the lights switches, plugs, etc. Or if you want to do crown molding or picture frame molding then you need to do additional framing to hold them. Who knew? I certainly didn't.

I took the remnants of the picture frame molding and baseboard that we had salvaged from the original house over to Beronio. Only one room in our house still had original trim and they were in really bad condition, so they had to go. I didn't expect to find the exact replicas, but wanted them along for inspiration in an attempt to keep with the original spirit of the house. I nosed around a bit myself for awhile and couldn't find anything close and was on my way out the door when this crazy guy stopped me and offered to help. His help involved telling me about 10 times how ugly he thought that the original plaster picture frame moldings and wooden baseboards were and that I was basically crazy to try and even get close to imitating them. Instead, he showed me a few other stock items that they had. I finally managed to wrangle myself away from him after about ten minutes feeling rather defeated about my little moldings. 

The next day, I went to Victoriana which is this amazing mill tucked under a freeway overpass perfectly located en route from our temporary housing at Cristina's to our house. They only make moldings and I sighed a big gulp of relief when I walked in and immediately spotted 15 plaster picture frame moldings somewhat resembling ours. I brought my salvaged pieces to the counter and the employees all came over to admire them and tell me how beautiful they were. I knew I was in the right spot. I found some moldings for our downstairs studio which are in the pic above. It's a little more modern and less ornate since the studio isn't exactly original. The upstairs will have a nice deep baseboard moulding for the 10'6" ceilings and more ornate casings for the doors. It's the plaster ceiling medallions that I'm most excited about though. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Painted Studio

Here is the little studio all fresh and painted. They finished putting in the floors now and the cabinets go in tomorrow! I am very pleased with the flooring. It's a tasty floating floor. No, that's not the new flooring in the pic. That's the concrete. Be patient, my sweets. 

I am starting to feel really pregnant again now meaning that my fatigue has come back. It's very annoying. I'm just glad that I channeled my second trimester energy while I could, but it is brutal to fight the fatigue with all that needs to be done. I'm hoping we will be able to move back into the studio in about 1.5 weeks which should make things a little easier. 

76 days 'till the cupcake arrives, but who's counting?

Sky Light

Hello, world. Apparently, the roof was so poorly constructed in the kitchen that it had to be ripped out entirely. It's supposed to rain on Thursday. Pat and his boys will be able to finish the kitchen in one day, but they can't come back until this weekend. Meanwhile, almost all of the other framing is entirely done. It looks amazing. Those windows from our neighbor's house are unfortunate. A rather unpermitted add-on, otherwise we could make the ceiling match the height of the rest of the house. Bummer. Expanding the width of the kitchen by about 2 feet has made a huge difference though. 

The plumber is making amazing progress upstairs. We're just waiting for the valves to arrive so that he can finish the showers. He'll be here the rest of the week working upstairs. He'll also spend a day downstairs doing the finishing work on the studio.