The Challenge

Well garage, I am challenging myself and Chris to FINISHING organizing, painting, cleaning, beautifying, and COMPLETING you this weekend. Not too long ago you were looking pretty shabby

but we will make you beautful, organized, and useful by the end of this weekend.

Chris has Saturday (it will be my LAST Saturday at the gallery), and we'll work together on Sunday.

Hopefully I'll have some WONDERFUL (completed project, check marked on the to do list) news for you guys next week!!!!


Chalk it up to a Chalkboard

We've made some SERIOUS progress on the garage the last couple of days (the goal is to FINISH this weekend...we'll see if that happens...)

And on the list of things accomplished was labeling 1/2 of the wine boxes (or at least painting them).

When we last left the wine box organizing I was falling on my face from exhaustion, but it's come a long way. We've gotten them ALL organized and lookin' good

Then it was time to start the REAL labeling, none of this blue tape nonsense.

So I got out my handy dandy CHALKBOARD paint (I know I'm behind on the times because this has been out for a while, but I find it QUITE exciting, they even have WHITEBOARD paint now...but it's more than twice as much, $24 for 24 ounces, yuck)

I started taping off a label area. Normally I would have gotten all nerdy and measured out the same size label area on every box, but I know Chris just wants to get this project done, so I gave in and didn't get out my ruler and right angle.....damnit!

Then I got out our tinted primer (regular primer mixed with all of the sample colors we don't use) and put on a coat

And THEN I got out the chalkboard paint and put on two coats, 5 hours apart with light sanding in-between, waited a little while and peeled off the blue tape and VIOLA!

(I left the small pieces of blue tape at the bottom of each box so I know quickly what's in each one when I REALLY label them)

Now, all we need is some chalk.....who would have thought with all the CRAP we have that we don't have ANY chalk? Well, at least it's an excuse to get some fun colors :)


Working on The Garage Doors

When we last left the garage doors, we were cleaning and patching them.

Since then, they have returned to the garage and are no longer sitting in our backyard (but a lot of other crap still is)

The plan was to refinish these while they were still hanging out in the backyard and then rehang them when they were done. But they were REALLY heavy and so there was NO WAY I was going to be able to help Chris rehang them, so the guys at BAU were thankfully able to help us.

We've been working on many other garage projects, so we've sorta forgotten about the doors. Until yesterday.

Before I went into work yesterday (day 17 of 17), I started refinishing the doors

So I got out the palm sander and got to work

After about 45 minutes things were looking good

I've still gotta get the sandpaper out and hand sand the moulding (bleh, not my favorite task), and I didn't get a chance to sand the front because of the rain.

The goal today is to finish the interior side (finish sanding and hopefully paint and install the handles), and get the first sanding done on the exterior (it's supposed to rain on and off today). I'm hoping over the weekend we can FINISH the doors, which includes sanding and painting the outside and installing these AWESOME big ol' beefy handles we got


Wine Box Storage Containers

Now that the concrete is poured, it's time to move in and finish building all the storage that will go on the back wall.

I, of course had work at the A's on Sunday, so I couldn't participate during the day, but Chris was able to get a lot done. I came home to a decent amount of stuff installed, organized and put away

(on the left all of the large clamps with be hung, in the middle will be a "counter" and a small peg board above, and on the right will be larger bags of stucco, concrete, etc.)

Chris had started to organize the wine boxes, but knew I'd enjoy figuring out exactly what order to put them in and what exactly would go in them. So once I got home in the later afternoon/early evening, I started separating things, organizing, shifting, etc. and putting it all together bit by bit

And of course, I couldn't forget the labels

Alas, my productivity was short lived however as I was so very very tired from work. But we almost completely finished organizing the first wine box tower (I think only one or two more boxes left) and I have a plan for some better labels :) So stay tuned :)


Pouring the Concrete

My dad and Wendy moved to Boston about nine months ago (maybe a little less). I am lucky enough that they decided to move BACK HOME! So last weekend while I was at work at the A's, Chris picked my dad up at the airport and he's been here ever since :) (Wendy is still in Boston wrapping things up and will be back home next weekend). Yay!!!

So, you know what that means. Well, yes I am VERY excited that they're home, but that also means my dad can help work on the house! :) hehehehehe. I am ALSO excited for summertime to come soon because my mom said she'd help too once she's back from Washington full-time, yay for parental help!!!!!! I'm a very lucky girl.

ANYWAY, Saturday I wrangled my dad away from organizing the place where they're living and working at his job and asked him if he could come help Chris pour the concrete now that we'd demo'd it, hauled it all away, and prepped it. I would have helped, but I had work at the A's both Saturday and Sunday and needed to be there at 10am. So my dad came over shortly before I left to help out.

They drove to Larm's to pick up the concrete only to find that their machine was broken :( Larm's wasn't sure when it'd be fixed, so my dad said he'd come back Sunday to help out, and then he headed back home (he was only going to be able to stay a few hours because he had work later that afternoon). So Chris worked on other stuff around the house and tried Larm's again in the afternoon. The machine was FIXED!

So he got the trailer of concrete back to the house, and started filling up the big ol' hole in the garage. When I got home from work around 4:30 I saw this

Chris did a great job, it looks amazing!

(don't worry, we'll put in two seams for cracking. Chris was going to do that when it was wet, but figured it would just be easier to wait until it was dry, and then cut it with the concrete blade on the skil saw)

Sunday it wasn't totally dry, still a little delicate, but Chris got started on installing all the shelves we built and putting together the wine boxes. I helped a bit after I got back from work at the A's, but I was only good for about 90 minutes before I started to get delirious from being so tired (day 15 of 17 with no days off, SERENITY NOW!). But more on that tomorrow.


Why, Hello Pretty Flower

Yesterday evening I went into the backyard to the garage to grab my forgotten camera, when a beautiful shade of purple caught my eye over by the vege garden

I planted these flowers almost a year ago from random bulbs we found all over the backyard when we moved in, and this flower popped up out of nowhere. I don't even think it was budding a couple of days ago when I was tending to the veges. There are even two more flowers about to pop.

It was a pretty little sight to see.


Starting to Organize the Garage

You may remember a while back I started drawing up plans for how to organize the garage once it's all finished.

While we're finishing the structure bit by bit, Chris has gotten started building the shelving units for some of our storage containers and tools. Chris' dad gets a ton of wooden wine boxes at his job down in LA and gives them to us to use as storage containers. We've always stacked them or created small shelving systems for them to slide in and out of. We've got a lot of things to store away and organize for the garage, so getting these wine boxes for free is a great way to create a cool and CHEAP storage system.

Per the drawings I made, Chris has gotten started building the shelving system for them (in the drawing, the tall shelves with boxes in them on the left and the shorter one on the right are the shelves he's building for the wine boxes to slide in and out of...if you click the pic gets bigger so you can see better)

Now comes the task of organizing all of our tools and crap that are strewn all over the house

(at least that couch isn't there anymore, it's found a home in the TV room)

Last night while we were watching the basketball playoffs Chris got started shifting things around and organizing the wine boxes and what exactly will go in each of them

There's still some fine tuning, but it's looking pretty good. Now I'll just have to think of a cool label to do on the outside of all the wine boxes (because you KNOW I love labels)


Prepping for Concrete

After we broke up the concrete and hauled it away, it was time to prep the area for the future concrete pour

After clearing out the concrete there was a significant height difference in the dirt across the ditch. We wanted it to be about 3" deep all the way across for the concrete to fill in, and we clearly weren't there yet

(that's a big gap)

So we took two of the bags of small concrete pieces and emptied them into the ditch....

...and spread out the pieces to make sure the ditch was 3" deep all the way across and to level it all out. We decided to go with the ditch being 3" deep because we calculated the space and figured out that if it was 3" deep we'd only need to buy one cubic yard of concrete from a local landscaping place call Larm's

And yesterday when I got home Chris had laid down the rebar

We'll have to carefully schedule a time to do the concrete pour as I'm only on day 9 of 17 days with no day off.


Hauling Away the Concrete

After breaking up all the concrete, it was time to figure out where the heck to take it. And we had a lot

(this x3 - Chris' truck can only take a ton, so we had to take 3 trips)

Most dumps don't take concrete, so we were kinda stumped about what to do. We had asked the guys at BAU where they took their's when they hauled it away for people and they said a place named Syar out in Vallejo. They had a pretty good rate, $65 for a day and you could take unlimited loads, but hauling 3 loads of concrete to Vallejo would take a lot of time, and we were trying to get rid of it before I had to go to work at the A's that afternoon.

So Chris twiddled around on that handy dandy thing called the internet and found a place in Oakland, about 5 minutes from us called Aman Environmental Construction. They do all sorts of demo, construction work, and hazardous waste management. They're based in Covina, CA, but have offices all over the country, and a concrete crushing site in Oakland off of Hegenberger. The best news of all? Each trip you take to drop off your concrete is ony $10!!! Doesn't matter how big the load, it's $10! VERY exciting. We took 3 loads total, so it only cost us $30. And we FINALLY got rid of all of our concrete in the backyard, yay!

Aman was pretty cool. The first time we got there they were running their concrete crushing machines and I watched as Chris went in to pay. The next trip we took I brought my camera so I could snap pictures of everything in action, but they weren't running them anymore

And, another cool thing...when you leave, you drive onto a grate that WASHES YOUR CAR OFF

(sorry for the crappy pic, I was trying to hold my camera out the window and not get it wet while the wash was going)

So we LOVE Aman: they're cheap, they reuse the concrete by crushing it up and they wash your car when you leave. Awesome.


Day 6 of 17

I'm finally getting over being sick, but Chris is right in the thick of it, so we really have not been very productive over the last week. Also, now that it's baseball season, I'll be much more busy working A's games, which is good because I make more money, but bad because I work on the house a lot less (for instance, this week I have games Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and NEXT week Thursday and Sunday). Case in point for busy-ness, today is day 6 of 17 consecutive days with no day off. Normally I don't even really have days off because days I'm not working at a job are spent getting up early and working on the house, but this will be 17 days in a row with no chance at all to sleep in and take it easy because I'll be at one of my various jobs EVERY SINGLE DAY. So hope with me that I make it to Wednesday April 28th without keeling over.

But, what little work we have done in the mean time has been pretty productive.

You may remember that the concrete slab in the back of the garage was cracked all the way across, causing the back third of the garage to be about 2-5 inches lower than the front (depending on where you're standing). On the to do list was buying a handy $15 blade for the skill saw that can cut through concrete (best $15 spent!), and then breaking it all up and hauling it away.

Over the last week and a half we've done this job in pieces. It started with cutting a line across the concrete (Chris ran the skill saw while I followed along with the hose running VERY LITTLE water out)

With the line now cut all the way across we would break up all the concrete to the RIGHT of it. We both weren't feeling too hot that day, and we figured out that if you sat on a bucket and swung the sledgehammer, it was a lot less work for your body to do because you only had to lift it, after you got it up, you pretty much just let gravity do it's job. It took longer than normal, but it used a lot less energy

After breaking it up...

...we got out the sledgehammer to loosen it up so we could clear it out

Then came clearing it out of the space and shoveling up the loose bits, and boy was there A LOT

It took A LOT of work (thank goodness we did it in pieces, if we had done that all at once while we were sick, it would NOT have been pretty). But we got it all broken up and cleared out.

Next post I'll tell you how we leveled it all out to prep for the concrete pour and where we took ALL of that concrete we cleared out (AWESOME $30 spent).


Eatin' Some Artichokes

Now that our artichoke plant is fruiting, it's time to cut some and eat them

Of course with our garage in disarray and our tools everywhere, I couldn't find our garden shears, so I improvised

The kitchen knife ended up working quite well actually

I followed the directions (that I didn't know at the time but looked up later - I know, quite responsible), by cutting the artichoke about 1"-3" down from the fruited plant

After about 5 minutes I had cut off 5 plants

I left the GIANT one because it had already started opening too much and I wanted to see what the flower would look like.

Last night we boiled them up for eating

The verdict: not really very good :(

There is VERY little meat to eat as the leaves are pretty tough :( and there isn't a lot of flavor (although later there is a much more intense sweet after taste than with store bought ones. At least, that's what I thought, Chris seemed to think I was crazy).

Does anyone know how we can remedy this? I was so excited to have artichokes to eat, but they're really not tasty. I'd like to figure out if we're doing something wrong or if there's some way we can make them more tender so there is more meat to eat off of them (and they were cooked all the way because the leaves were coming off of the plant extremely easily).

Any suggestions are GREATLY appreciated!!!!