7/28/2008: As you can probably tell by the lack of
updates, there haven't been any major projects happening. Most
of July was spent enjoying the backyard with things such as 4th of
July party, birthday party, and just laying out by the pool party.
We did have a fun trip to Palm Springs with some friends who own a
house down there. The weather was very hot, and a monsoon
storm came through one day. Lots of thunder, lightning, and
rain made for a very interesting morning. We also too a very
fun trip up the
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. If you have are ever in PS
and have the chance to take the tram, I highly recommend it.
We have been doing some tinkering in the yards. We replanted
some trees, got the entire drip system repaired, and rewired the
backyard landscape lighting. Here are some pics of the yard at
night. Bill did some
the big trees in back. We also added walkway lights
around the house
and pool area.
The spotlight in the Japanese maple tree makes a very cool
6/30/2008: I am officially finished on the outdoor kitchen
project. There are a couple of little touches I want to add,
but they are bonuses, so they don't count. I spent this past
weekend sealing tile, painting, and touching things up. I was
able to get
the doors mounted, and all the
I am happy with the way everything came together, and now that I am
done Bill was able to layer on the accessories. Here are some
final shots of the end product: From
back, and from
We are going to take a few weeks off from projects to enjoy the
fruits of our labor. There are several events over the next
few weekend, so nothing major will be started in July. There
are lots of small things I have been putting off, so I will get
6/23/08: 2 weeks have slipped by, and we continue to plug away
at our BBQ project. We did have a nice get together at the
house on Father's Day. All the kids were there, and we got
this nice shot of Dan, Jessica, and Sunnye.
I did get a little work accomplished Father's Day weekend. I
was able to build my cabinet drawers and doors. Saturday was
spend building the actual drawers out of 1/2" MDF which I painted
white. Sunday I built the faces for the drawers and doors.
Here are the doors
waiting to be installed. The materials used are 3/4" Tough
Board (plastic wood) for the rails and stiles (edges), and 5/16"
Hardibacker siding (cement wood) for the panel.
I mounted the drawers for use at our party. The
top 3 drawers
are just on simple slides. Rather than installing a
refrigerator outside, Bill had the great idea of using a cooler.
I built a large
drawer for one of the door spaces, and installed a big cooler.
I used heavy duty full extension slides, and there is
easy access to
This weekend was spent grouting all the tile. I was concerned
about the grout staining the slate, so I sealed the slate before
grouting to make the cleanup easier. It made a huge
difference, and I highly recommend spending the time and money on a
good sealer. Here are some shots - The
front of the bar;
the seam to the
concrete came out very nice;
under the bar
waiting for barstools;
inside grill area
we used slate all around as the baseboard for additional water
sink was grouted
using black grout, and
all the granite
While I was grouting Bill worked on a very cool addition to the
area. He had wanted something behind the sink to block the
view of the pool filter. He also wanted something that could
be used to hang wet towels. We came up with a PVC pipe design
that created a plant stand and towel rack. As you can see, it really
makes a nice
visual screen (and I can use the herbs when cooking).
6/10/08: No progress to speak of on our outdoor kitchen
project this week. I decided to spend Saturday doing something
I have never tried before. I competed in a 2 mile open water
swim at Lake Berryessa.
The event was put on by Davis Aquatic Masters, and I went up there
with some of the Sacramento Aquatic Masters swimmers. Here are
some of the fast
women (swimming wise that is) from our team. Yes, the one
on the left is 7 months pregnant, and still competed in the 2 mile
swim. The second from the left finished the 1 mile swim in
second place AFTER doing the 2 mile swim just an hour before.
Here I am with my
friend Stan waiting for our race to start.
Although it technically was a race, I was not too concerned with my
time. My main goal was just to finish, but I did have 70
minutes as a target. The winners of the race usually finish in
about 42 minutes, and the majority of the swimmers usually take
around an hour.
Unfortunately after arriving at the lake the wind decided to come on
with a vengeance. Once our heat started, there were white caps
on the lake which made the course very tough. Many of the
experienced open water swimmers compared it to swimming in San
Francisco Bay. The water temperature was not too bad at about
68 degrees. Here is an
aerial view of
the race course.
I did well for the
first 1/2 mile, but then the waves really started effecting me.
I found it difficult to maintain my stroke. I also kept
veering off course which added a great deal of yardage to my total
swim. About 1/2 way through I developed a cramp in my left
calf that concerned me a bit. I changed to breast stroke for a
while, and was able to shake it out. I continued battling the
waves, and trying to stay on course to the
last turn buoy.
The water was much smoother for the last leg, so I was able to give
a final push towards the finish line.
My official finish time was 1:25:58, which placed me #128 out of 146
swimmers in my group. Certainly not what I
was shooting for, but I finished the race. Most people
commented that their times were significantly over their normal
times. I will probably try some more of these and work on
improving my sighting of the course.
Lots of stuff going on this month, so it will certainly effect my
construction schedule. I still hope to have everything done on
the outdoor kitchen done by the end of the month.
6/2/08: A good productive weekend. I took a half day off
from work on Friday to get a jump on laying the floor tile.
out on what I hoped would be a 4 or 5 hour project.
After recutting several tiles, and making some on-the-fly
adjustments. 8 hours later I was
putting down the floor.
look is good, and the few bad spots will not be visible when all
I spent Saturday helping Jay install a new front door at his house.
It is a very cool retro style door. Things went pretty
smoothly there, and he should be sending me pictures shortly. Here's
the pics: INSIDE -
OUTSIDE - Before and
Sunday things went much more smoothly than on Friday. Bill
helped me get all the face tiles on the front of the cabinetry.
While I started placing the tile, Bill did the tile cutting. We
had the whole front of the counter done in just a couple hours, and
then moved on to
the bar area.
We placed the final
on the side of the bar, and were done with the 12" tile.
The old trusty
helped hold the small pieces in place while I moved on to the
While the thinset was drying, I decided to cut the curve on the
perimeter edge of the floor. Bill and I used small metal rods
driven into the ground where each tile met the concrete. We
then took a small diameter PVC pipe, and pushed it up against the
metal pieces to create the curve. We then
curve onto blue tape that was on the tile. Using my
angle grinder and a diamond blade, I just followed the line and
cut off the excess tile. The end result was a
continuous curve on the edge.
Here are some pics
after we did
some clean up. Bill filled in the dirt and brought the
rocks up to
the level of the floor.
Under the bar
kitchen area (doors and drawers are the next phase). We
grill into place since it will be there for a couple weeks until
we get to grouting.
the inside of the house.
5/28/08: Memorial Day weekend came and went, but was not very
cooperative weather wise. Bill and I were able to get the
slate for the flooring
cut and dry
laid. I used the hand held angle grinder with a diamond
blade to cut the curves where the slate meets the concrete. While I was doing
that, Bill continued to cut the pieces to finish the
rest of the
floor. The curve for the
the slate will be cut after all the pieces are set into place.
Because the weather was so unpredictable, I decided to hold off on
setting the floor with thinset. Since that left me all day
Monday with no plan, I decided to start working on finishing the
the plywood, I am using Hardi-Backer siding. It is a
concrete sheet good that has a wood grain finish. To
strips I needed for the door area, I used an old tile saw blade
installed on my table saw. After I make the doors and drawers,
surface will be painted.
5/20/08: Finally, we are moving out of the rough construction
phase, and into the finishing elements of the outside kitchen
project. Saturday we began laying the granite countertops.
The first step was to put on the edging strip. I saw this
bracket used at Bill's parent's house, and found some at Home
Depot. It made installing the edge much easier than doing it
freehand. While I got all the brackets installed, Bill cut 3
dozen 1.75" strips of granite. The
installed using Liquid Nails to hold it into place. Here
gently tapping a piece into the bracket. For the corner
pieces, I rounded the edge for a smooth transition.
While Bill finished installing the edging, I began to put a bullnose
corner on the tiles for the top. I created a jig to hold the
wood, and used a
profile bit in a water fed angle grinder to round the corners.
Of course, grinding the edge of the granite took off the finish, and
bullnose area dull. By the end of the day Saturday, we had
most of the
pieces cut to size. While all this work was going on
Morgan enjoyed the pool in the 102°
Sunday was spent finishing the countertops. Bill took on the
challenge of polishing all the bullnose areas of the tile to restore
the finish. The process involved the water fed angle grinder
(hence the bathing suit), and 7 different polishing pads ranging
from a course 50 grit to an ultra fine 3000 grit. He lined up
4 tiles at a time, and
ran each pad
over the edge.
I spent the morning making the final cuts for the tiles that went
around the sink. I used a diamond tipped core bit to bore a
hole for the corner, and the cut straight lines to the hole.
The result was a
nice close fit
all the way around the sink. With all the tiles cut to
size the installation went quickly. The
very nice. The BBQ is
little high right now, because it is on a mover's dolly.
Once everything is done, the countertop and grill area will all be
the same height.
polished up beautifully, and look as good as the top surface.
There will be plenty of counter space both for working, and accessories.
It also looks very nice
5/12/08:Busy, busy, busy. Time keeps marching on, and our
weekends are filled with fun little projects. Bill continues
to make improvements on the yards by moving plants, adding color,
and adding points of interest. He also removed the ugly
spotlight on our back patio, and
installed a new light fixture.
I have been busy with our 'Cochina' Del Sol. That is outside
kitchen in 'The Nanny' speak. I
cabinetry for the area using 3/4" plywood, and painted the
interior white. In case you are wondering why there are 2 strips of
wood on either side of the door openings, it is because I made a
major mathematical error. In my calculations of layout I
originally measured from left to right. When I laid it all
out, I measured from right to left. The result left me 5"
short of the left hand door clearing the BBQ. Bill came up
with the idea of moving the whole cabinet to the right. I
added the extra strips of wood to keep the symmetry of the doors.
Once I get the fascia installed the modification won't be
area with the
pool equipment will be left open on the back for easy access,
and have doors on the front so we can get to the controls.
With the plywood tops on, it looks like there will be
plenty of counter
space. Here is a view of the area
from the inside
of the kitchen.
Next came the installation of the sink. I liked the sink I
installed in Jay's kitchen so much,
that I found a bar
size sink of the same type. After the sink was in, I was
able to get the
rest of the backerboard down for the tile.
This weekend was spent running all the utilities. I extended
the water lines from the house, and put in the
(again stealing a design choice from Jay's kitchen). I added
to both sides of the cabinet face. The old spotlight that
was on our patio found a new home, and will provide plenty of
light for the BBQ
4/22/08:Another month has slipped by and both Bill and I have been
busy around the house. I completed the installation of the
solar system by adding an
It uses a sensor on the roof to determine the solar panel temp, and
a sensor in the water intake line to check he pool temperature.
It then has a cool
electronic valve control to direct the water to the panels when
heat is available and needed for the pool to maintain its
temperature. After a week of running the water was up over 70
which was warm enough for
Kaitlin to spend some
time in the pool. The following weekend was in the mid
80's and the pool reached its desired temp of 80. It was very
nice and Bill spent a while in the pool cleaning the tile.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bill has been busy making window
treatments for the house. His warm-up project was a set of
panels for the
sewing room. The
panels are lined,
and attached with clip rings. He then completed the
Each of the panels is attached to the finial by a cord. The living
room faces west, and the sun beats in the windows. Bill came
up with a novel solution to provide some diffusion of the light
while still keeping the arched window effect. He used thin PVC
pipe for framing, and
covered the windows
with a nice sheer fabric. I now have to make a cornice box
so the big window can get its dressings.
I have been able to start on my BBQ area. A few weeks ago I
set the forms for the
concrete. Bill helped me pour the concrete, and I put a simple
brush finish on the
surface. Since the final product will have slate added, I
wasn't too worried about a smooth surface. After the concrete
cured, I was able to
start framing the structure. There will be a
small seating area
for a couple of bar stools, and a nice
cozy work space for
the cook. The next step was to start
adding the backer board
for the slate covering. The slate will be on all the outside
areas including under
Bill has also been enjoying the nice weather by working in the yard.
We changed the pool area a bit by
adding our lion
fountain to the landscaping. Bill continues to add color
and interest with all his
planting in the back.
His garden is
thriving, and we are anxiously awaiting our first harvest.
Of course, the
front yard has seen its share of renovations, and many of the
neighbors have complimented Bill on how much better the house looks
now than it did last year.
- 3/24/2008: We continue getting ready for our summer
vacation (in our back yard). I finished
hooking up the solar
panels to the pool filter system. It took a while to lay
out the exact pattern of all the valves, and get the supply lines
route on the house determined. Once I had it all figured out I
installed the valves.
It looks more confusing than it is. Here is a diagram that has
an explanation of
all the valves. After running the solar for 2 days (both
in the 70s) the water temp went from 61 to 66.
I also spent some time this weekend plumbing a gas line to the
outside for the new BBQ.
The goal is to build a little cooking area that will enclose the
grill, give us some counter space, and a sink. Hopefully we
will be starting on that shortly.
Bill continued to dress up the back yard. He planted grass
seed that has started to fill in the bare spots. More plants
were moved from where they didn't belong to new homes, and some
color was added to the yard. He also spent time on Saturday
planting a vegetable
garden on the side of the house
We bought some lounge
chairs, and a patio
table set. We even spent a few hours on Easter enjoying
the nice view of the
pool in the warm afternoon sun.
- 3/14/2008: I think it is about time for an update.
Many people have asked what is going on, so I guess I still do get
some visitors here. Bill and I have been getting used to the
house, and deciding on what projects we want to tackle first.
Bill has been doing some sewing of window treatments (pics soon?).
We have decided that our first big push is going to be getting the
yards into shape. We want to really enjoy our backyard this
summer, so we have some big plans for it.
I decided to install a solar heating system for the pool.
After a bunch of research, I purchased a set of four 4'x10' panels
with an automatic controller from a pool supply company on EBay.
We have a good southern exposure roof on the second story of the
house, so that is where I did the installation.
The solar panels kits are actually two 2'x10' panels each.
Each panel has a 1-1/4" pipe on each end for intake and output.
the pipes are connected with 1-1/2" rubber connectors. I began
by connecting one end of
all the panels together and
strapping them to the
roof. The grey strapping I used was not included in the
kit, but on my research I read that it is good to used these header
straps so that the weight of the water doesn't pull the unit off of
the roof. I then used the main straps included in the kit to
strap down the actual
body of the solar panel. There were
three straps for each
set of 4' panels. To secure the straps I drilled a hole into the
roof tile, applied a generous amount of liquid nails, and used
1-1/4" Tapon screws with a fender washer for added pressure.
Once all the panels were secure - And yes, it was very scary
working that close to the edge of the roof. Some of the bottom
straps I did from the roof, and some I did from a ladder. - I
started plumbing in the
supply lines. I ran the intake down the left side of the
array, and the output is on the upper right. To get over the
peak of the roof I found that
two 45 degree bends
connected and twisted worked just right. From there it was
a straight shot to the
north side of the house where the pool equipment is. I
will do the actual connecting to the pool equipment next weekend.
So, what was Bill doing while I was on the roof (besides
waiting to catch me if I fell)? He was busting his butt
re-landscaping the pool area. A couple of weeks ago we pulled
out all the overgrown
bushes from around the pool. The trees were not only
messy, but the were so fat you
couldn't walk around
the pool. After we pulled everything out, the pool area
looked much bigger
Bill spent a lot of time researching what plants he wanted to
replant the area with. We wanted something that would fill in
quickly, give us privacy, and not make a mess. After 2 days of
back breaking digging he had
planted 6 trees,
plants, and relocated 3 sago palms & several small plants.
The results are
very nice, and we are anxious to see
how it all fills in.
- 12/19/2007: We have been in our house a little over a
month, and we are pretty well settled. Most of the boxes are
unpacked, and the house has become very comfortable. The
neighborhood seems very nice, and several of the neighbors have made
an effort to introduce themselves.
I have been busy with several projects. I had one last major
thing to do at Jay's house that I will be posting pictures of in the
near future. I also have been working on completing my shop
space in the garage. The wall is built, and the workbenches
are up. I will also be putting pictures of that up soon.
Bill has been spending his time making the house a home. Since
we moved in November, he jumped right into Christmas mode. As
always, the decorations look great. Here are a
bunch of pictures with the furniture
in the house, and the Christmas decorations up.
- 11/26/2007: I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.
Bill and I spent most of our 4 day weekend working around the house,
and trying to get things organized. Bill heads off to his new
job today with the State of California, Department of the Courts.
Here are some pictures of an interesting little project we did to
the house before moving in. The
pool had been neglected
for over a year, and most of the water was gone. We wanted to
make sure the equipment worked, so we had to fill the pool.
The problem was that there were several areas where the plaster had
blistered and separated from the gunite. We had 2 pool
companies out, and they both quoted over $5000 to re-plaster the
After doing some research on the internet. I found a product
called EZ-Patch (Leslies Pool Supply also sells a product called
Patch-It). The product is made for above or below water repair
of the plaster. So, never being scared of a new project, Bill
and I dug in.
We began by draining out the
last of the sludge
(totally gross), sweeping out the leaves, and scrubbing down the sides of the
pool. We then chiseled out the loose plaster, and
prepped the holes for
filling. The plaster patch sets in about 5 minutes, so we
only mixed up enough to do one hole at a time. All
together we ended up doing
5 large patches.
We filled up the pool and added a few chemicals. Although the
patches are much whiter
than the surrounding plaster, the seem to be holding very well.
The cost for the repair was about $100, so if we get a couple of
years out of the job we will be happy. We
tested all of the
equipment, and were very happy to see that everything works just
fine. Even the
built in waterfalls work as they should. Now we just have
to wait for the warm weather to get here.
- 11/09/2007: Well, Bill and I have closed escrow on a home
in Roseville. After 6 months of looking, this place came on
the market. It was a bank repo, but unlike many of the repos
we had seen it wasn't trashed. The house had been sitting
vacant for over a year, so it needs a little TLC, but at least it
has all the appliances and fixtures.
Bill has been slaving
away cleaning the house before we move in this weekend. As he
says, we need to get the OPD (Other People's Dirt) out of the house.
Although there are plenty of projects that could be done, we are
going to wait until after the holidays before we jump into anything
some pictures that I took of the house
when it was on the market.
- 11/08/2007: Time to clean things up and get ready for new
projects. If you want to see any old pictures, you can check out
the photo album.