Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Craigslist.... getting the weirdest things.

I saw an ad on Craigslist three weeks ago for a stone statue. I've been looking around for a water fountain type thing to put up in the backyard for the birds, and after searching for 'statue' I came across an ad for a statue of Neptune.

It was a bit bigger than I was looking for, but it was FREE.

I emailed the owner (who said he was giving it away for free) and he said 'yes' he still had it. But without a truck handy, moving it just wasn't possible. I hemmed and hawed for three weeks, trying to arrange a truck and enough muscle (the thing weighed, he said, about 300-400 lbs.) to get the job done.

Finally, yesterday, everything came together and now I have a Neptune statue in my back yard.

Except that it's 5 feet tall, 700 lbs and now I can't move it.

But it was free, and I love it, except that every time I turn the corner of the house I get the ^$@* scared out of me because there's this naked guy on my patio.

The funny thing is, that after doing a little research online, I found the same statue online at a garden center for $1300-$1500.

Now that's a steal.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring time's here, let's go gardening.

The inside of the home's not done yet, so let's just completely avoid looking at that pile of trim nestled up against the wall on the dining room floor for now, and set our sights outdoors, shall we?

Fine by me.

The rest of the fence is going up, and we're still having a load of trouble figuring out the gate... but thanks to a good friend and a very healthy (and abundant) garden, we've now got more day lillies than I know what to do with, as well as columbine, autumn clematis, sweet woodruff, irises, evening primrose, hostas, and that's not including the sunflowers, zinnias, asters and marigolds we've started by seed.

We've also got 3 rows of heirloom arugula sprouting, 2 rows of mesclun mix, three bok choy heads, and a row of snow peas growing on the fence.

I've got basil, chives, italian parsley and cilantro growing inside in the mini-greenhouse, but DH won't let me put the basil in the ground for at LEAST another week.

I can't wait.

Oh, and on PBS I watched a show about growing orchids... outside in your garden. Apparently quite a few orchids are native to Kentucky, including this Kentucky Ladies Slipper Orchid.

Now how cool would that be?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Weekend @ MonteCassino Vineyard '09

Just a quick video of the Monte Cassino Vineyard in Covington, KY one year after the vines are planted, the deer fences are in place and the lower hillside just cleared. It was muddy, but very impressive. As much as I'd love to call this place our own, it belongs to DH's sister and husband.

Long live the Dornfelder vine! Long live the Schmidts!

Glug glug hoorah!
Glug glug hoorah!
Glug glug hoorah!

DH Addendum:

This vid hardly does the scale justice. These walls are MASSIVE and they've been there, dry stacked, for over a hundred years. The shot is taken about 95% of the way up the hill too. Turning around gives a huge panorama of the river valley.

If you came here from Julia's Hooked on Houses Blog Party, here's your link back.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Just how combustable is foam anyway?

Ok, so after some web surfing it seems I'm not as insane as DH thought I was. Either that, or I'm in good company.

I found this example of a foam fireplace insert online, along with an entire field of architectural foam products. Expensive, but very very cool.

This little guy here was selling for $630. A little over budget if you ask me.

A few links I've found woith some very cool aspects are and for starters, but there are myriad others.

I guess the place to start off with on the fireplace is the beginning....

Oh yes, how godawful that was. The fake brick trim, the crappy wood moulding stapled to the wall. Gives me the ugh-shivers just thinking about it.

That and the carpeting. ew.

The the accidental discovery of the brick arch under forty pounds of plaster is what started this all off. Who knows what we'd have there now if it weren't for my overzealous demolition.

I *thought* and I use that word cautiously now, considering the mess I'm in now.... that I wanted a fireplace similar to the one designed below. Just a simple two-column sides with a horizontal cap piece across the top.

Unfortunately, I've been seeing these go for about $300 on the low end to over $2000 locally for wood mantles, and frankly, they just wouldn't fit right.

Even the historically accurate ones I've found pulled from homes in the area just don't look right. I mean, it seems a shame to put this much effort into rebuilding this home from the inside out and end up putting this on the fireplace:

I think these above were for sale for $100 each. Instead, we bought two nine foot high flat foam columns, cut them in half to fit in the car, and added a six window sill foam trim for the horizontal piece.

Here are the leftovers from the cuts made to fit the height under the sill. We had to cut a middle section out of each of the pieces. The column pieces are on the left, the sill is to the right, and the bottom footer was waaay too tall, so I cut off a good 5" off of the bottom and scribed the base to fit around the uneven brick and wood flooring it was to sit on.

We realized very quickly that the sill was not level. They are built for exterior trim, and hence slope outwards to drain rainwater off. We'd have to shim up the final cap piece and cover the gap with trim.

I was going to need to attach a 5' long board across the top of the fireplace to attach the foam sill to. I also cut out 2 smaller blocks with the profile of the sill for each end of the sill to extend back to the wall. I just took the middle piece of sill I'd cut out from the middle and drew the outline on a piece of paper, cut it out and laid it over a 2x6, drew the outline and cut. There's a picture down here somewhere.

We decided on leaving a 1/2" of drywall to the left and right of the foam columns to give the impression of more depth, but there was a bigger problem that needed addressing first.

The inside gap to the brick face from the foam was over 3", and the foam column extended in past the drywall by an easy 6". We'd need to build a brace for the inside of the columns.

I plumbed up the columns and attached them with a few screws to the drywall behind, then marked a line on the brick where the foam would need support. I thencut eight 4" pieces of scrap 2x4 and drilled holes in the center of each.

Then I placed the 2x4 blocks on the brick, next to a 2x6 on it's side which was edged up to the line I'd drawn. This was the line I couldn't cross, or it would muck up the trim that I'd need to use to cover all this mess up.

I then found the center of a brick and drilled a hole through the pre-drilled block. Once the holes were drilled, I put construction adhesive on the backside of the pre-drilled block and tapconned it to the brick face. I did this four times on each side; one each at the top and bottom, one midway up the base, and one very specifically where the two cut pieces of the column would meet in the middle, near the top.

Once these eight blocks were in place, I measured the gap at each location, cut a 2x6 to fit the gap and nailgunned the supporting 2x6 pieces to the attached 2x4 blocks to make an 'L-bracket' behind the columns.

Here you can see clearly where the cuts were made and how the foam is attached to the wall, as well as the small detailed wood cut on the side. (The window sill trim is about half the thickness of the columns, it needed to be padded.)

Next, I screwed the insides of the foam columns to the L-brackets

Then came the bondo.

OK, these foam things are not meant to be cut apart and reassembled. They are not even, not exacting, and not even close to matching up. There was some serious sanding needed to get the top and bottom pieces to match up.

But once the screw holes were filled, and the connecting gaps filled and sanded, as well as matching up the side of the sill with the wood cut outs behind, then I needed to cap it off with a piece of poplar.

After routing out a decorative trim on three of the sides of the poplar cap, it was time to shim it out to level to accommodate for the slope from the sill. We nailed the 1x6 poplar board down in the back (closest to the wall) to the 2x6 horizontal board I attached the sill to. Then we levelled out the cap and put shims in.

Once all the shims were in place, we marked them, pulled them out, wrapped them in tape, and cut them back on the table saw. I didn't want to take any chances of snapping them off in place, or accidentally cutting the foam with a blade.

Then we pushed a lot of the construction adhesive into the gap, replaced the shim bundles into their places, and brad nailed the cap down into the shims.

The I found a spare piece of quarter round trim lying around and cut it to fit and brad nailed that in too.

Now I'm off to Home Depot to find another length of quarter round so I can finish the sides. :-)

Oh, and a quick word on bondo that sets up faster than you can spread it smoothly: *&$%#@!$!.

Thank you.

Oh, and just in case the brad nails didn't hold down the cap through the shims into the foam, we put books on top until the glue dries.

If you came here from the Hooked On Houses Blog party, here's your way back:

Hooked On Houses

If not, check it out anyway. She's got a free giveaway link this week.

I'm building a fireplace mantle

And of course, to do it in any normal, stable manner would just be out of the question. No, I wanted columns and go-gahs, but to buy all that trim and put it together like normal people have done for decades? No, not me.

I went to the Covington Reuse Center (the place we got all of our closet doors) and bought some weird exterior foam trim stuff that I'd been eyeing for months. I know that the original purpose of this stuff is that you somehow slap it on the outside of one of these new "I can build you a new home in 7 days or less" monstrosities and it's supposed to look all castle-y.

This is either going to be very cool, or really really stupid. I'm taking pictures. I'm just hoping I didn't waste $100.

Time... and bondo... will tell.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Home Depot Atta's

A lot of folks rant against the Big Box Stores, and there are shortcomings to a major corporate approach to hardware and building materials. That said, in the past year and almost 5 months, we've gotten a good deal of personal help, attention, and support. We've come to know a number of folks by first name at the old Crescent Springs Home Depot and they seem to want to go out of their way to help us.

By help, I don't mean "you can find it in aisle 13". I mean expertise. I mean patiently figuring out what you want to do and then sharing what they know or simply ideating and problem solving with you. It helps when someone has done a lot of similar stuff to what you're doing and who also knows where all the tools and materials are.

Our first helper at the very beginning of the process was Doug. He found us a hammer drill for all those tapcons we put in the brick, on sale and in budget. That was the first of many, many times Doug was there to help with advice and direction. Framing issues, epoxy, railings, fittings, adhesives, faking historic trim, whatever. We must have used his skills dozens of times. And if Home Depot didn't have what we needed, he often knew just where to go. That's good service.

He also directed us to two others who were instrumental in getting our floors figured out, and our walls painted. That's Walt in tool rental and Janet in paint. Hands-on experience lends you the confidence needed to work quickly.

But our first and our go-to generalist is Doug. Seek him out.