Archive | November, 2011

Lost and Found

29 Nov

Our big Thanksgiving cleanup unveiled two things that were misplaced a while ago, and which had both been almost given up on finding. A tension screw for the Stihl chainsaw Corinne’s dad gave us and the hour meter for the Honda EU2000i generator. I figured I might as well go ahead and install the hour meter before it gets lost again!
I heard installation was easy, and it was, writing this blog post with all the pictures below took longer than the installation I think. The hardest part was determining where to mount the hour meter so that it would be easy to run the sensor lead, easily visible, and not subject to damage or in the way when trying to carry it. I initially planned to locate it on the spark plug access hatch but it would then act as a tether for the hatch and I thought that could be risky so I bit the bullet and located on the other side where the controls and pull start cord are, which required drilling a tiny hole in the generator, after I made darn sure that it was safe to drill in that spot.

The access hatch on the top of the generator

The access hatch removed


The “sensor lead” wrapped around the spark plug wire. Somehow this picks up the high voltage pulse of the engine and starts the clock running while the engine is running and stops when it’s not so it keeps a lifetime tally of engine hours.

Drilling a hole for the lead to exit the generator case and enter the hour meter


You can barely even see it but the lead is pressed into the back if the meter and it goes right into the hole, which is a tight fit and then covered by the meter to reduce the chance of rainwater getting in. You can also see the double sided adhesive tape on the bottom of the hour meter.


Here’s the installed hour meter after a 4 hour test drive



A step in the right direction

28 Nov

We accomplished a few important things on Sunday. One of which was clearing out a good number of boxes in our master “boxroom”. Corinne took all of her remaining shoes from various boxes and somehow fit them in her closet. We threw out a few other boxes and sorted out some other stuff and you can actually walk around in there a little. Once we get the Christmas decorations out of there it will really open it up.
One of the biggest things we were finally able to get out of the room, and the real goal we wanted to accomplish today was to hang our giant Capiz light fixture that we had in our bedroom in Sea Cliff. (It doesn’t actually seem so giant now that it’s in a much larger room) We decided it might be a nice accent in the corner near the fireplace. There was no existing fixture to begin with so we had to cut a hole in the ceiling for the fixture box. We got a retrofit Safe-T-Bar type ceiling fixture box that spreads to fit tight between the joists to support the octagon box. It was a little more expensive but a lot easier to install than the new construction style one we installed in the dining room.
I ran wire to the box up in the attic but that’s as far as we got today, so it’s not working yet, but it looks nice up there.


We’re trying to decide how we want to arrange the switches for this light, an existing switched lamp outlet, and some planned high hats. We also plan to run new power to these lights on a new dining room lighting circuit to eliminate the existing aluminum wire, so it will take a little more work than just tying in to an existing switch or outlet.


27 Nov

We did a quick install of a peep hole today. We have a solid door, so it’s hard to see who’s on the other side of the door when the bell rings.
I decided to use a Forstner bit instead of a regular bit because a regular spiral drill bit tends to drive in like a screw and blow out the other side. There is very little to hide any splinters on the inside so the Forstner bit with gentle pressure was the safe choice for a clean hole.
Another great, unrelated, feature of Forstner bits is that they can be used to drill a non-through hole with a flat bottom, this comes in handy for certain tasks in woodworking.




Thanksgiving: Survived

25 Nov

We just had a full day of much needed relaxation after we hosted our first ever Thanksgiving. It was quite an undertaking and we were both exhausted from about 5 days of cooking, cleaning, building, and decorating.

Corinne was the real hero, creating a culinary experience of epic proportions for a dozen people. Some of the most complicated versions of theoretically simple classic dishes were creates all from scratch.There were a few fumbles along the way, some of them my fault, but we persevered, we got through it and everyone had a great time, and was raving about the food.

We did have lots of people willing to help us when we would let them and we relied on their previous Thanksgiving experience to guide us through a few things.



Our table was not quite sufficient to seat 12 people so our initial thought was to throw a piece of plywood on top to extend it from 3×6 to 4×8. We tried it out and at some point we realized it wasn’t going to cut it so we’d have to go to 10 feet long, which is bigger than a standard sheet of plywood so I’d need to add 2 feet to a 4×8 and therefor need to frame the whole thing out for support.


This was also the first unveiling of our newly mostly completed dining room and living room and it got some great reactions from people arriving. We’re very happy with how it came out and we were so happy to share our home with a group of people we love for our first big holiday.

An Homage to Doug

23 Nov

If you used to watch Trading Spaces you remember Doug Wilson. doug was notorious for his outlandish designs but mostly for his love of painting brick fireplaces.
With our painting going on and the wall around the fireplace turning from light to dark the fireplace sort of disappeared and just looked dingy. We’ve got big plans but for now some paint should help freshen it up.
So, last night, as Doug would say, I “did my homework” and put a nice thick coat of primer on the fireplace. Let me tell you, those mortar lines ARE NOT EASY!
It looks better already… more to come.



Paint Job

22 Nov

As part of our renovations of the dining room and in preparation for thanksgiving we are doing a little painting. More accurately, a professional painter is doing some. He’s doing his best to make some aging walls look as good as they can. He was recommended by Corinne’s parents and, so far, we’re quite pleased with his work.

The first step was one that was a big chore, clearing the living room and dining room. Most of the dining room was IN the living room and the dining room was basically full of tools and supplies. It was a bit like moving again and the emptiness of the rooms reminded us of how everything looked when we first moved in.


The painter got right to work fixing and patching spots in the wall and nails that had popped up over time. In fact, he screwed in pretty much the entire wall where the fireplace is.

He then went on to spackle and sand everything and then today he started laying down some color!

That picture is taken through the plastic sheeting we put up to keep the dust out of the kitchen.

Everybody is pretty excited about the painting, except poor Ishi who has been spending a lot of time locked up in the guest room or pawing at the plastic trying to get in to the paint zone.

Gettin’ Blown Out

21 Nov

This was a busy weekend, it started by facing a big challenge, the leaves that were accumulating in our backyard. Our previous house had a yard that was about the size of our deck and a lawn about the 3×20. There was raking to be done but it was chump change compared to what we have to deal with now.
Our friend Derek once again came through with the power equipment and let us borrow his backpack blower to help the cause. We took an absolutely ridiculous picture to illustrate its use.


It did help but it was still a huge battle. We didn’t even touch the front or side yards yet and we already filled 34 bags of leaves. The backyard is already ready for another once over as well.
What was to be our morning project went until it was dark out, we did save a few trips back and forth though…


Goin’ Hot!

18 Nov


Well, I sort of feared this and it came true…
Since I did not follow Corinne’s advice and stick the Oil tank last weekend we ran out this morning, as you should know from the previous post. Running out and having to buy more is bad enough, but there were other complications… We lost our prime, or the oil pump did, at least. Because the lines ran dry they got air in them, and also a bunch of gunk got into the filter and nozzle. So today I became an Oil burner repairman… complete with the smell, I’m guessing.
I had to remove the nozzle and clean that and its filter and then clean the pump screen filter. I had to backtrack all the way to the main feed line and clean things out until I was able to get the oil flowing to the nozzle.
I am happy to report that faster than you can say “who do I make the check out to?” I had the system up and running again. I celebrated by doing a lap around the basement with my arms simulating a locomotive kind of action. (I might add that my Petzl headlight added to the realism of my display)

Fill ‘er up!

18 Nov

We woke up this morning to a VERY chilly house. I thought/hoped that Jer had turned the heat way down last night before bed (since I have a tendency to turn it up, forget to turn it back down, & wake up sweating around 3AM.) But I checked the thermostat, and it was just under 70. The radiators were cold, and there was only lukewarm water coming out of the faucets… Naturally this morning it was 35 degrees out with a real feel of 27 – mind you, it was 68 on Tuesday!!!

My next hope was that the burner just needed to be reset with the hidden reset button. That was the problem the first time we woke up to no heat, and 3 or 4 more times after that. But this morning that didn’t work either… So Jer went out into the frosty morning air, 12′ dipstick in hand, to measure what was left in the tank. The first time we had 9.5″ which was about 70 gallons. Today, 2.5″, which is only about 7 gallons!

We were holding out as long as possible because we are going to switch to gas, but sadly we can wait no longer.. We had to bite the bullet and order 100 gallons of that gross stuff to hold us over until the big switcheroo. Fortunately it can be delivered today, and we can pay by check to save a few $$.

Fingers crossed that this is the one & only time we need to buy oil!


After calling at 9am this morning the very nice people at MnS/ Protostar delivered our oil only 4 hours later! Not bad! The delivery guy told me to wait a while to turn the burner back on because the sediment in the tank is probably stirred up from the fill-up.
He also had to use a special filler tube with a breather built into it because he had a feeling our vent wasn’t working because there was no whistle noise as he tried to fill it.


Words of Wisdom

17 Nov
“Life’s too short to be designing one’s home to suit the next person who lives there — do what’s right for you.”
– Tommy Smythe
Great advice from the design assistant to our favorite designer, Sarah Richardson! He said this in response to frequently hearing that homeowners often feel that their renovations need to be appropriate for resale.
It’s especially meaningful to us, because as we’re in the process of doing different projects around the house, I’ve wondered whether the next person to buy our house will love our design decisions as much as we do… and they may not, but we’re happy with our choices, and that’s what really matters!

Sarah Richardson & Tommy Smythe