Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Projects (Page 2 of 27)

Finally, Painting

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The drywall patch is finally finished! Boy, it ain’t easy. It requires not only fair amount of patience and attention to detail, but also skill and experience. This is Slav’s first time doing drywall. Although being a fast learner with good common sense, he spent weeks conquering the steep learning curve.

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The work has been painfully messy and slow. But now it is over, Slav said that he is confident to do it much faster with better result next time. We have lots of drywall work coming up in the basement which I was thinking about hiring out. But Slav insisted on doing it himself. What a trooper!

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While Slav was on repeat of mudding and sanding like an energized bunny, I was busy waving paint brushes. The past weekend was devoted to painting all the trims snow white.

The front door interior trim:

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Bedroom door trim:

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Back to back trims in our small hallway:

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And closet trims:

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All the interior trims around doors and closets got three coats of Behr Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss. I cleaned, patched, and sanded all the trims with 80 and 220-grit sand paper prior to painting. This job gave me the perfect excuse for my dream random orbit sander: the Bosch ROS20VSC. It costs ~$60 and is the perfect sweetener for a tedious job of this size.

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In order to finish painting all the trims, we had to first complete the trim project for Slav’s closet. After reversing the office closet to face the bedroom, we did not put the door jambs and trims back on for weeks.

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Poor guys has to use his closet (left) for a couple months like this:

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With door jamb and header missing, and trims absent:

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We saved the door jamb, header, and trims when we demo-ed the office closet. So I cleaned, patched, and sanded them:

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And made they look like new with some paint:

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I nailed the door jamb onto the opening, followed by the header. All parts fit like a glove, indicating that we did an excellent job framing the opening. 🙂

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Nailing on the trims completed the look.

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It felt like a big change to go from this:

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To this:

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Three coats of semi-gloss trim paint gave the trims a big face lift.

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Now we just need to paint the inside of the closets before we can put our clothes back!

While painting the trims, I also gave all the wood window stools a few coats of fresh paint. We keep plants in clay pots on them and glossy paint shall protect the wood from moisture.

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The window stools were pretty beaten from years of use:

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But with new paint – they look pretty good!

The living room window stool:

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Office window stool:

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Kitchen window stool:

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The bright white color reflects light and gives the green plants a perfect backdrop.

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Late last year, I painted all the wood doors white with some leftover white paint we had in hand. The paint is in flat finish, which did not stand the test of time on doors. I will be re-painting all the interior doors with the same Semi-gloss white this weekend, which should be a big upgrade.

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It will be above 70-degree this weekend, which means I can work on our beloved back patio again. With some podcast and Spring air, painting is not that big of a pain. Despite being the solo painter in the house, I do not particularly enjoy painting. But painting usually means we are close to the finishing line, so I enjoy being at the painting stage.

I’ve been binging on a podcast called “The history of English” and almost at the end of it. With all five doors, 900 sq ft of ceiling, and three rooms of walls to work on, I need to find something new to get through the month of May. Any recommendations?

Spring, Dry Wall, and Allegies

Spring is finally here in the ranch house. In what seems to be overnight, our crab apple tree put out thousand of flowers:

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The weather is still too cold to plant vegetable gardens, but it is warm enough for perennials:

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I selected these sweet white flowers for the spot under the crab apple tree, and paired with them with some color:

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We also planted rosemary and lavender around the mailbox.

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The plants might be small, but I trust them to fill in nicely with refreshing aroma and green foliage in a few years:

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Just to remind you, this is the same spot last year when we moved in:

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We removed all the weeds and transplanted roses from the front flower bed.

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And one of these roses survived. Its new leaves just peeked out of the mulch.

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Our indoor plants are also all happy and growing well:

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I am propagating some succulents I brought back from Southern California, hoping to use them as ground cover someday.

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Spring also means allergy. And I am hit. Flu-like symptoms kept me down, and drywall work inside does not help either.

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It has been over a month since we hung the drywall. So it is nice to finally get them finished. However, the actual work sucks. It is so slow and messy, and because this is Slav’s first time doing drywall, it is slower and messier. I wish we had hired it out – but with just a few seams no professional will take such a small job.

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We would have had all the drywall patches finished it by now, but Slav found black stuff in our drywall compound and it turned out to be mold. Yes, the drywall compound we bought from the local Home Depot is contaminated with mold. 🙁 So instead of having the walls ready to paint, we are chipping and sanding everything off (with masks) and restart.

I have to admit, when Slav told me that he had to restart, I lost it. It has been two weeks since the mudding and sanding started, and now we are back to the starting line. To pick myself up in the midst of this conundrum, I started choosing paint colors.

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The living room and office will stay white, just a brighter white. Our bedroom is more closed off from rest of the space. I am thinking about want to use a subtle pink color here:

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I like the slightly purple/lavender one on the top. We have lots of grey and a blue painting in the bedroom and this color speaks to them. It also looks good in the closet:

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All the trims will go Ultra Pure White. I am 99% sure that we will use SW’s Extra White in all the ceilings and rest of the walls. Now we just need these damn drywall to be finished.

I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just need to see it.

Back Home and 2018 Spring Yard!

After a week of travel and some catching-up at work, I am FINALLY back to the blog. Thank you so much for continuing to read and check back. It is very encouraging for a new blogger like me to see the blog traffic did not drop entirely down to zero. 🙂

I spent the last week of March in Southern California for work. For the most part, I stayed in Riverside, where Slav and I got our PhDs (in Neuroscience, in case you are wondering). I got to visit the houses we lived in, dine with old friends in our favorite restaurants, and walk around the campus in which we spent 5 years learning, doing research, and teaching. Walking down the memory lane was fun and gave me deep appreciation for how far we’ve come, but I also missed home terribly. Maybe age has something to do with it, but I do not enjoy being away from home for this long.

One thing I never paid attention to when I lived in SoCal, is its mission-style, Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. It turns out that the ceramic tile roof, the white stucco wall, and the arched front porches totally burned into my mind and have been subconsciously influencing my design decisions. Remember the phase II plans for our back patio? That is pretty much what Spanish Revival porches look like. Interestingly, we also lived in North Carolina for equal amount of time (>5 years), but I’ve never developed the same interest in Federal and Georgian-style southern houses.

Spring Cleaning – Pantry Closet

Since coming back, unsurprisingly, I was swamped with work. But we did manage to work on a few small things in and around the house. For example, as part of the spring cleaning and purging effort, we reorganized our pantry closet.

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It does not look like a superior product, but it is a lot more functional than the before:

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The original closet lacks shelving, so things tend to pile up and hard to find. One night, as I was cooking dinner, Slav added a couple shelves above and below the existing shelves. Adding these shelves could not be simpler: the cleats were already in place, and we have some leftover 5/8″ plywood from making the floating nightstand. Slav ripped down the plywood to size and popped them over the cleats – no nails or screws needed. This upgrade almost doubled the holding power of our pantry, so everything we store here can be organized to one layer and easy to find:

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To top shelf holds plastics. We are trying to cut down the plastic use, so I intentionally put them up high and make them hard to reach.

Dog treats and medicine were stored on the second shelf – We have a treat jar for dogs in the kitchen so these are just refills. The medicine is bulk ingredients for mixing Charlie’s joint supplement. If you have an older dog and want to make their joints healthier for longer, I highly recommend to mix your own joint supplements opposed to buy from pet stores. You can find all the pure ingredients online in bulk and in pharmaceutical grade. It is not only cheaper, but also you can control exactly what and how much your pet is taking. This sheet shows what and how much we give to our 10-year-old lab Charlie, you can use it to calculate how much your pets need based on their weight.

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The next two shelves hold our dry goods, sauces, and spices. We are eliminating some upper cabinets in our kitchen soon, so this pantry has to work harder to hold our spices. Putting sauces on Lazy Susans makes everything we need visible and easy to reach. For $10 a pop, they are god-sent.

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Pasta, grains, and cleaning supplies are located at the bottom. Pretty neat, right?

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We also added shelves into our toiletry closet next to our bathroom. Giving everything a dedicated and relatively permanent space not only makes keeping track and finding supplies quicker, but also makes cleaning inside the closets a lot easier. It is our intention to have a low-maintenance and low-consumption style of life, so there is less stress and more time to create. Having well-organized closets with spare room shall help.

Planting Fruit Trees

In addition to cleaning, Spring is also time to plant. We are currently experiencing a massive attack of analysis paralysis due to lack of landscaping experience. Yard work was easy last year, because all we needed to do was to fix obvious problems, such as getting rid of overgrown bushes and dead trees, power-washing the fence, and doing a gut-job on our garden shed (including demo, rebuild, paint, organization, and finishing touches). But this year we need to create, which feels like a much bigger responsibility.

There is no right way for gardening, so we decided to just follow our heart and plant whatever we want, starting with fruit trees.

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We planted five trees in total, including a Honey Crisp apple, a nectarine, two different cherries, and a peach. These bare-root fruit trees are only $12 a pop in Costco, making them good subjects to experimenting with.

Slav picked the cherry trees. One of the best memories from his childhood was climbing onto his parents’ cherry tree and eating fresh cherries. Apparently, his childhood cherry tree no longer exists. 🙁 So this 36 year-old man decides to recreate this magic happiness in our yard.

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We also got a honey crisp apple, a nectarine, and a peach, all of which we love and purchase constantly. They will likely spend the first a couple years growing to full size, and start producing delicious fruits in year 4. We planted them 14 feet apart to allow them to come to full size. By lining them along the back fence, we hope the mature trees also function as a privacy fence and hide the mix-and-match back fence.

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This is our first time growing fruit trees, so we followed the instructions to a tee. Fingers crossed!

Other Gardening Plans for 2018

We also plan to add a privacy hedge along our northern fence. This portion has double fencing – our neighbor’s wood fence and our chain link fence, with quite a few trees in between.

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The tree root started damaging neighbor’s wooden fence, which prevents us from taking down the chain link fence that we deeply hate. Since these trees do not provide flower or fruit, and appear to be quite invasive, Slav made the decision to cut all of them so he can fix neighbor’s fence, take down our chain link fence, and plant a privacy hedge instead. It will be a fairly big and expensive operation for which we need to coordinate with our neighbors. But if we could pull it off, we will have complete privacy in our backyard in just a few years.

The last thing we want to do this year in our yard is to experiment with vegetable gardening. Colorado receives only 8″~15″ precipitation each year, most of which during winter. So replacing turf with urban farming and Xeriscape is one serious matter to us. Among drought, heavy clay soil, and wind and hail, gardening vegetable will be a very different experience from what we had in North Carolina. This year’s goal is simply experimenting different methods of amending soil and watering, in preparation for bigger garden next year. To set us up for success, I ordered a veggie garden starter kit from Resource Central, which includes starter plant that are drought-resistant and locally raised. I also ordered their honey bee heaven garden kit to bring more pollinator into our yard.

Being warm and nice outside today, I shot a short video of our yard and explained our landscaping goals for you. Among the fencing, privacy hedge planting, and veggie and perennial beds, we will be busy as a bee!

 

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