10.29.2014

I Wish the Laundry Room was Painted

The floor has be installed in the laundry room for a week and a half now


I was really eager to get things painted so that we could work on the trim and other miscellaneous tasks so we could get the washer and dryer back and running. Chris applied the texture last week


I had every intention of getting the room primed and painted this past weekend while Chris was out of town. And while I did get things primed I could not find the paint for the life of me. Of course, I didn't look in any of our 5 gallon buckets, which is where Chris found it as soon as he got home, damnit! Whenever we get more than one gallon of paint, we ALWAYS mix it together in a 5 gallon bucket so there are no slight color variations by gallon. Normally when we're done painting, we pour the leftover back into one of the gallon containers and put it in the attic, labeled, for storage. But, of course we weren't DONE with this project when we painted the first half of the room (a year ago...), so we left it in a 5 gallon bucket and out of habit I only thought to look at the gallons we had. DAMNIT!

Then I wanted to get it painted earlier this week, but I hurt my back and have been relatively out of commission, booo. I hurt it pretty badly (had to go to the hospital, stay home for a couple days) when I was in high school while playing soccer and every once in a while I do something that upsets it and it is not comfortable at all.

So that's why here we are on Wednesday with a room still only primed


Chris was an all-star though and started getting some trim installed despite my non-painting...


We've still got baseboard, door casing, door trim, ughhhhhh. The good news is that my dad and Wendy's new house is only 15 minutes away and they have a working washer and dryer, so I pulled the old college student move and brought over 3 loads of our laundry and one of Zoe's earlier this week :) Thanks parents! :)

The good news? My back is feeling a lot better and it's on my to do list today to get that room painted! Actually, it's next on my to do list, so I should probably get the hell of this computer and get to painting!

10.24.2014

Remember How we Were Famous?

Not famous - let's not get ridiculous here :) But remember about 18 months ago while I was about 9 months pregnant how we let some folks inside our house to film us and talk to us about blogging? (read the post here)



Well, they made a short about it! We knew they'd be making a small documentary to accommodate the study Christopher would be doing (not my Christopher, this is USC graduate student Christopher in the button up in the above pic), and it's so cool to finally share it!

I was actually sent the short and information about it several months ago, but with all the business in life I completely forgot to write a post about it, and I also wanted to make sure it was okay with them to post the video here on this page. If you don't remember what all the fun was about, I'll do a quick summary from my post back in May of 2013:

The project they're working on is a two parter: the first is a research study titled "Authoring Realistic Learning Environments with Stories." Don't we sound professional? :) The second part was participating in a documentary aimed at bringing attention to the human and relatable side of their research.

The idea of the project sounded pretty cool and having them in our home for the evening was actually a really interesting experience. The purpose of the study is "to better understand bloggers, like you, who post publicly and frequently about their daily life to the Internet. This study aims to foster a greater understanding among the public of the ethical and privacy issues surrounding research using social media."


Sounds pretty cool right? And in Christopher's email to me a couple months ago he shared with me how his part of the project was going (the research study):

"As for the science, things are going well. I’m writing up my documents to propose my dissertation work. The short description of the problem I’m working on is sample bias in social media and web data. The longer description is about learning about groups of people (e.g. all Americans) by looking at web data, and dealing with the fact that web users and non-web users aren’t the same. A few years back, there was a lot of published research about predicting economic activity, politics, and other things by analyzing what people were posting on the web. For instance, a lot of papers claimed they could predict the outcomes of elections by looking at thousands or millions of Tweets. This work was flawed for a lot of reasons, but two important ones of these: web users are not like all people (e.g. web users tend to be younger), and there’s a selection bias for people with unusually strong motivations to talk about something (i.e. people talking about an election are likely to be more partisan). The second reason is less of a problem if you select your data smartly (e.g. analyze people who write because they always write, rather than just finding people writing about an election or a particular stock). The first is trickier, but is a problem that economists, government data crunchers, and political pollsters deal with on a regular basis when they conduct surveys. What they do is they re-weight survey responses to better reflect the population they are studying. If you know that 13.7% of Americans are 65 years or older, but only 8% of Americans who responded to your survey are 65 years or older, then you can adjust the survey by giving the 65+ respondents more sway on your final estimate for the population.

We could apply this to web users, except that we don’t have a basic demographic breakdown for everyone on the web handy. So, I’m working on trying to automatically infer a basic demographic backgrounds for a couple thousand bloggers like you, who post every day or close to it, about their lives. If we can accomplish that, then using the re-weighting techniques that I just described, we can use those bloggers as a survey panel on everyday life."


He sounds smart. The idea that we got to be part of such an interesting study is really pretty cool and I feel lucky to have shared our experiences with them and get to be an interesting footnote to someone's study.

Of course I'm sure you're also interested in seeing the video. Well, I was :) So here it is! (for some reason when I embedded it, it starts halfway through, so just slide the bar back to the start)



Whatdya think?

10.22.2014

Week 5: Rough Plumbing and Electrical

The name of the game this last week at my dad and Wendy's was rough plumbing and electrical. My dad and Chris have continued to replace can lights around the house from ugly ones from the early 90s to new, LED ones


Obviously some serious patching still needs to happen around the lights. That's waiting for me to get to once I have time to go over there and help out.

They also got 2 gimbals installed where the future pantry will be



Don't worry, that hole from the old recessed light in the first pic will get patched. We just haven't gotten to it yet.

They work really hard :)


Chris is used to my constant picture taking, but obviously not my dad :)

Zoe also needed to get in on the action as well


Chris and my dad spent the better part of a morning installing a box for the 3 gimbals in this built in downstairs. It did not go as simply as they would have liked (but when do things ever go simply?) 


Once the lights got installed it looked really good though. And it will look even better once glass shelves go in


The plumber is also working on the rough plumbing. New valves are going in in the two bathrooms upstairs


He also worked on bringing the water line in the kitchen over for the pot filler. This involved going down to the basement and cutting into the ceiling of the hallway


Nothing some patching can't fix. But now there is a water line for the pot filler!


It may look a little strange being off to the side, but we couldn't have it centered in the middle because of the studs that were already there. The stove (that's existing) is a 6 burner, so we decided to center the pot filler over the burners on the left side. 

In addition, there are two fireplaces in the house and so the plumber will also stub for gas to each fireplace for a gas insert in each of them. There are a lot of spare the air days in the Bay Area when you cannot burn wood in your fireplace (and many times they align with Christmas), and in all honesty, I find wood burning fireplaces to be a lot of work. It's a romantic idea, but it's always messy, needs clean up....I'm just lazy I guess. My dad felt like he would use them more (and a future buyer would as well) if they were gas inserts. So that's what they'll be.

And the saga of the counters? They're finally decided on! After doing lots of research my dad and Wendy decided against the recycled glass. They even thought about maybe doing the Vetrazzo again


It was quite the back and forth, but ultimately they went back to the mainstay of granite. They just kept going back and forth on the glass, and I think they just felt in their heart it wasn't right for them for the kitchen (and they're actually fairly high maintenance). And who doesn't love granite, right?

So this is what they picked out on Saturday



It's got some veining in it that makes it pretty interesting. The only downside is the backsplash that they loved really doesn't go with it, so it's back to the drawing board on that one (though they went looking for more on Monday afternoon). A different backsplash pick might change the cabinet colors, which might change the wall colors....so I'll keep you updated of course :)

10.20.2014

OMFGGGG We Worked on the Laundry Room Floor!

I'm not going to lie - it felt weird actually WORKING ON THE HOUSE on Saturday. We haven't in a really long time and I hope this helps light a fire under our ass a little bit to continue with the laundry room progress. It sort of has to actually seeing as we can't really do any laundry at the moment...but more on that in a bit.

Our laundry room has been sitting in need of the rest of the floor to be installed for a year now



And let us not forget that we actually purchased this flooring FIVE YEARS AGO



Oy.

But the point of this story is the OMFG that we got it done, so let's get back to making me feel a bit better about myself :)

Saturday morning Chris and I flew around the house and purged and cleaned and played with the little rascal that is Zoe


And we were quite excited for the afternoon (or at least I was) because after her nap Chris' mom swung by to pick her up for some grandma fun while we...drumroll please....worked on the house! It was finally time to get to that floor


That of course meant first getting everything disconnected and moved out of the area of the room that we would be working on. And thank goodness for furniture straps because that fucking washing machine was not light


Nothing like moving a washer in dryer that have been in place for 5 years to show you how disgusting your floor is


We had forgotten about this little patch in the floor that needed to be repaired behind the dryer


So while Chris worked on that, I cleaned up the room a bit - I swept and sponged the floor of disgustingness and got all of our materials and tools ready. Then it was time to patch the floor by the slider and behind the dryer



I guess this step is technically not required, but in order for the floor to lay more properly we at least wanted to get things on close to the same plane. It's not perfect by any means at all (what, you can't tell from that above pic?) but it certainly improved things a ton and now the new floor won't rock underneath the shake of the dryer.

While we waited for the patches to dry we did a skim coat on the walls and ceiling (we don't like the original texture we went with in here 5 years ago)




With the two of us working on it together we got the skim coat done in about 45 minutes, so that's pretty awesome. The best part? The patches were dry by the time we finished, so it was..........time to work on the floor! YAY!

Let me tell you, Chris was not super excited to work on this project. We took this task two separate ways: I was completely excited to get started because it had been on our to do list for SO LONG and I just wanted it to get done more than anything. Chris on the other hand wanted it to just be done more than anything :) And whenever a new project starts it always takes about 30 minutes to get into the swing of things and those first 30 minutes for Mr. Christopher were a little testy ;)


But we quickly found our groove and Chris installed things while I laid them in place and cut all the boards down to size. It was a good system that kept me a little ahead of him and we actually got about 75% of the floor installed in about 90 minutes


When we got towards the end things slowed down a bit because there were some weird spots we had to cut around




But it really went relatively quickly and we were pretty happy about getting to work on it by the day's end.

The last step after getting all the boards down was taking the Fein and cutting down the lip of the tongue and groove on the side of the floor closest to the steps to give the floor a little bit more breathing room for expansion and contraction (that little gap and the wood will be covered by a riser)


But by about 4:30 we were DONE! It felt REALLY REALLY REALLY good. And of course I snapped the most awful picture this morning at 5am when the lighting was terrible and I'm too lazy to adjust the white balance


But hey, I gotta tackle a to do list before that little bugger wakes up :)

Doesn't the floor look AWESOME!? There's still A LOT to be done in here, even before the washer and dryer go in, ugh. Nothing to get you motivated to keep working like grown up and toddler laundry piling up. We did a load on Saturday morning before we got started, and my dad and Wendy's house is only 15 minutes away with a working washer and dryer, so we'll likely do at least one load there before things get put back in place in here. What's the list before the washer and dryer (and utility sink) go back in? Sand the walls, texture the walls, paint and prime, install baseboards, paint baseboards, install riser and trim piece from upper level to lower level and paint them. Phew!

But again, let us enjoy a finished floor and think about that to do list a couple hours from now :)

Happy Monday!

10.14.2014

Week 4: Screw Dal-Tile

Remember how we had the countertop, backsplash and kitchen cabinet colors all picked out?



Weeelllll last week when we had a fabricator come in to take measurements to give us a rough estimate of what the fabrication and installation would cost they found a little wrinkle: we let them know that we were using a product called Trend Q 431 from Dal-Tile as the countertops. When we were at Dal-Tile we all really liked it and we ordered a sample of it. We told the unfriendly (and clearly unhelpful) woman behind the counter what material we were interested in using, where we would be using it ("in the kitchen in our house" was what my parents said) and we asked to order a sample. I even asked how much it was a slab: $1500. The sample didn't come for a couple weeks so I called again and inquired about it, told them where we were using it, and asked when it might arrive. Didn't hear a peep from Dal-Tile ever about anything special about the material. Then, when our fabricator called them to verify pricing and check on availability we got an annoying phone call: Dal-Tile had a minimum 10 slab purchase. WHAT!? It REALLY would have been helpful to find that out WHEN WE ASKED ABOUT PRICING AND TOLD YOU WHERE IT WAS BEING INSTALLED. I'm not sure I know of any kitchen in the world in a residential house that would require TEN SLABS to outfit it. Oy fucking vey.

So that set off an annoying series of events. My dad and Wendy (especially Wendy) really loved the counters. And they are pretty awesome. What sucks more is that the backsplash and kitchen cabinet color and wall color were all chosen after the material was picked out. There were Vetrazzo options that were similar, but that is horrendously expensive. Wendy and I tried to calm our freak out. I decided that Saturday we would go check out some other counters and we could look at more backsplash options. We could pick counters that would go with the existing backsplash (the top diamond tile above the counter material)...


...but we had soured on Dal-Tile and weren't super excited about buying any tile from them. Which would mean we should look at more tile places to switch out the bathroom floor as well


We already found the pebble for $3 cheaper a square foot, so we just needed to find something better than the Chevron.

Our fabricator was incredibly nice and asked what we liked about the counter material specifically and suggested a couple other brands with similar color combinations. They were super awesome. So Wendy and I headed to their showroom on Saturday morning to look at what they had. They had suggested a brand called Geos, and after looking at the website we had a color in mind we thought would be very comparable to the Dal-Tile counter. White Birch ended up being a pretty close match

original choice on the left, new one on the right

We looked around at several options. Wendy liked one or two others, but she didn't want to have to worry about picking out new cabinet colors or wall colors because that can quickly start an avalanche of choices that need to be changed. They let us borrow the Geos sample so we could bring it to the house and see how we liked it in the space.

We also went to another tile shop to look for new bathroom floor tile and possible new backsplash tile (Art Tile on Broadway for locals). We spent quite a lot of time there and although there were tiles we liked, nothing really compared to the backsplash Wendy and my dad already loved. The good news was that Art Tile could order the same tile (they work with that manufacturer as well) and get us a better price. Woo-hoo! They had a lot of options for the floor but there was one that really peaked our interest


Yes, I realize that's a lot of tile there, so here's a fancy key :)


The subway tile isn't too exciting. But we realized the old "Bone" color looked a little yellow, so we picked out a more neutral "shell" instead. Nothing too crazy, but still a little improvement. For the floor tile we picked out 12x24 tile that they had ripped down to 3x24 for the sake of being about to fit more color options on the sample board. It's got veining in it in shades of white, yellow, beige and slight shades of greenish/brown. We really liked the tile ripped down to 3x24 and will likely do that as well because the bathrooms aren't terribly deep and so we want to see some pattern on the floor.

My dad liked the picks when we were showing them to him on Sunday, but Wendy was having second thoughts about the counter choice. She liked it, but just wondered if there wasn't enough visual interest. What she liked about the original pick was the larger pieces of glass, and the new one had much less in terms of larger pieces (comparison again for reference)


There was a really cool piece of Silestone that Wendy had liked that I saw that she thought about again. I was excited because I had really liked that piece and it was my first choice. The reason we had chosen against it was because Wendy didn't want the avalanche of picking out different paint colors if it threw things off. It was a little brighter white and had flecks of metal in it. We told my dad about it (I had thought he would really like it - we have similar taste) and we decided that I would go back and pick up that sample as well, we'd bring it to the house also and see how it looked in the space


It's really difficult to photograph (especially with the camera on my phone because the damn camera battery died). But those darker pieces in the Silestone that look black are actually flecks of chrome-like metal. They reflect a lot of light and add a lot of interest. We reasoned that we might have to change the color for the bottom cabinets, but the wall color would probably stay the same. We haven't take the samples to the house yet, but that should be happening later today.

Phew! So that is the countertop saga. Was that long enough? :)

What else went on at the house last week?

Well, we found out that even though the wall here is a shear wall, we can still open up this doorway about a foot wider


That doorway being fairly narrow and the first thing right in front of you when you walk in the front door makes things feel closed off. So, luckily the engineer told us we can open it up to the right another 12-16" and even arch it to match the opening on the right of the above photo. Yay!

Chris and my dad have been hard at work replacing recessed lights



In much of the downstairs they installed these square, utilitarian recessed lights that are incredibly unattractive. So last week my dad and Chris took more than a dozen out and, patched and reinstalled 6" can lights


It definitely doesn't make for glamorous work, or make it feel like a ton is happening because there isn't a huge visual impact, but having better lighting will make the house feel less dark. And those lights reminded me of a school basement. They were horrendously unattractive.

We also called an audible and decided to work on this bathroom as well


Again, sorry for the crappy pic, I had to use the phone.

Originally we were just going to paint the cabinet and then call it a day. But, my parents figured they'd replace the counter, sink, etc. when they sold the house so we decided, why not do it now? The counter is so small anyway it'll be quick and not too invasive. This is a half bath with the toilet in a little alcove to the left of the sink so there really isn't too much to change. The floor will stay, the cabinet was already getting repainted, we picked out sinks and faucets for the upstairs bathrooms anyway, so we'll just use the same ones here. And he toilet has already been replaced (of course I forgot to take a picture).

There you have it, Week 4: annoying countertop discovery, different tile, lots of lighting being replaced, and a new bathroom to renovate :) Maybe, just maybe, we'll have all the paint selected this week :) I said fingers crossed last time, so I don't want to jinx it :)