Archive for November, 2011
In the words of Carla from Top Chef: hootie hoo! Our counters are ordered (more on what we chose and why we chose it here). They came in at exactly $38 a square foot from Home Depot (no hidden/added charges, which was nice) which added up to around $1700 (ouch, good thing we’ve been saving for this kitchen a while). We also priced them out at Lowe’s and a couple of local retailers and none of the local retailers could do better than $55 a square foot (huge difference, huh?) and while Lowe’s and Home Depot both had the same $38/square foot price, Lowe’s charged more for the sink cutout and a few other add ons that HD didn’t. The deal was sealed when Home Depot agreed to match a 10% off Lowe’s project coupon that we got in the mail AND the 5% off that we’d get if we used our Lowe’s card (our local Lowe’s stacks those discounts although we’ve heard some others around the country might not). So we’re happy to have saved a good chunk of money shopping around and price matching coupons.
Another way that we’re saving money is by reusing our existing sink:
We really like our sink, and obviously wanted to save a couple hundred bucks or so by not buying a new one (as we mentioned here, we’ve heard many times that seamless Corian sinks can be a lot harder to care for than Corian counters – so most folks prefer stainless undermount). But we learned both from Lowe’s and HD that for the Corian fabricator to accurately plan for our sink… they’d need to take it with them when they came to template for the new counters (aka make precise measurements to design the countertop). And that meant removing the rest of our granite to free up the sink.
The process started by disconnecting the disposal and the plumbing underneath the sink. Don’t interpret only having one photo of this process to mean it was quick. It should’ve been (according to all of the how-to‘s I googled and watched beforehand) but the mounting ring on mine was jammed and it took me about 45 minutes to finally get it free and spin it off. On the bright side, I am now very familiar with my garbage disposal. Maybe that should have been on my Things To Accomplish Before I’m 30 goal sheet (get that reference here).
Next I wanted to remove our faucet, which we also plan to reuse (at least in the short term – later upgrading to another one-hole faucet won’t be a big deal). Fortunately this went faster, thanks to digging up the installation manual online and reversing the steps.
With all of the fixtures detached, it was granite removal time. Having already done this once in our kitchen (we removed the first half of the granite to make room for the stove), we knew the process wouldn’t be too hard. It’d just require some muscle. So we warmed up by prying off the backsplash with a crowbar.
Then we made a couple of slices along the glue that held the counter to the cabinets and got to prying. It lifted up remarkably easily.
Then came the muscle-y part. Which is why we recruited my parents to help again (mom to watch Clara and take pics, dad to lift). But it quickly became apparent that this slightly larger slab of granite was more than slightly beyond our lifting abilities – especially since we would’ve had to lift it up high enough to get the sink out without damaging it (if the granite slammed down on the sink while it was halfway over the cabinets it would have meant $200+ to buy a new one and potential cabinet damage as well).
We had been trying to get it out with the sink attached because the folks at both Lowe’s and Home Depot thought we’d be able to better cut the sink free without warping or tweaking it that way (therefore saving us the loot to buy a new one). But that method wasn’t going to work here. That long slab of granite was way too heavy. As in, we probably couldn’t have lifted it with two more burly men present. So we regrouped and came up with the idea to try to remove the sink first, by freeing it from the glue that held it to the granite.
We began by gently sliding a spackle knife into the space where the sink was undermount-glued to the counter. Once Sherry (she’s the boss of the group) broke the seal in one spot, we were able to tap it around the perimeter with the help of a hammer. I say “we” but my dad ended up doing most of this for some reason – although Sherry did the first edge of four. Not sure how I got out of it but… thanks Dad!
Eventually all of the glue was gone (this took about 45 minutes) and we were able to tilt and raise the granite up just enough to lift the sink out from under it (we kind of hinged the granite back like the top of a trunk or chest so we weren’t supporting all of the weight ourselves). The best part? The sink was unharmed… just a little dirty. So we get to save 200 beans and reuse it! Oh happy day. And you can see just how big our sink is in this shot with the wife around for scale. Note: Sherry wants me to clarify that’s not dandruff or debris on her shoulders, it’s gold beading that apparently reads more clearly in person. Gotta love a gal who rips apart her kitchen in fancy beaded clothing.
At this point I guess we could’ve left the granite in place, but we knew the installers either preferred no counters or all counters when doing their measurements (not half and half, since it could throw them off) – and we also wanted to use my dad. Wait, that sounds bad. But we could definitely use the extra strength, and he was standing right there in our kitchen, so…
With the sink safely set aside in the other room, we just lifted the granite up slightly on one end and this quickly showed up:
Never did I think I’d be so happy to see a crack in my granite. See, we knew that if it cracked in half around the sink (which is pretty hard to avoid anyway) we could lift each side of the slab separately. Which we definitely could handle because it was the same size as the granite piece that we removed when we added the stove a few weeks ago.
But we were less happy to find this beneath the crack – some sort of metal rod that must’ve been installed to keep the granite strong across the sink hole. Boo for unforeseen metal rod-like obstacles.
But after we slid half of the granite off onto the floor, the rod was bent enough that we could use a screwdriver to pry it loose and completely separate the now two halves of granite… which were each light enough to be carried out by just two of us.
Here’s sort of what the aftermath looked like before we got the other half out. Note the construction-grade beach towel that we used to protect the new stove. I’m kidding about the construction grade thing, just in case my sarcasm wasn’t clear. Don’t want you guys to waste too much time googling “construction grade beach towel.”
Now that all of the granite is removed and residing safely (and somewhat junk-ily) in the carport to be craigslisted, our kitchen is looking something like this. Yup, it’s safe to say we’re 100% sinkless.
According to the counter fabricator, we’ll be sinkless for about three weeks (maybe four, considering Thanksgiving is thrown in the mix). But I did reconnect the drain on the dishwasher so at least we can still use that (and therefore maintain a smidge of civilized living around here). I try to remember that while I rinse non-dishwasher-safe pots in the bathroom sink. But we definitely have it better than we did in our first kitchen (which was a full gut job – so we didn’t have a stove, fridge, microwave, and dishwasher to use at all for months).
Has anyone else foolishly believed they could lift an eight and a half foot hunk o’ granite with two other people? Have you ever seen rods around the sink while removing or installing granite? Have you kept/reused an existing sink? Did it take you a second to disconnect your garbage disposal like it’s supposed to? If so, consider me a jealous man.
Today I turned 30. Woot.
My mom didn’t make me stand in front of an “I AM 30″ banner (or fashion a crown for me) like she has in past years, but she and my dad did have us over for brunch on Sunday morning. It was actually a surprise that Sherry planned with them. I had known about the brunch (since my cousins, aunt, uncle, and little sister had traveled in from DC for the day), but was somehow oblivious to the fact that they might use the gathering to celebrate my thirtieth until a candle-filled plate of muffins was placed in front of me. Oh, but my mom did make me this:
Never one to just slip money or gift cards into an envelope, my mom constructed this “flower” with a happy face spatula and paper leaf pockets that housed some gift cards to my favorite places. Oh, and the can “planter” was stuffed with new running socks (likely my dad’s contribution).
My sisters went in on this for me:
It’s the Christine Berrie bicycle print that I’ve always loved over on 20×200. It’s the perfect addition to my bicycled-themed art obsession. Speaking of which, I did actually manage to secure a set of the Gap bicycle prints that I yearned for thanks to a helpful Gap manager (remember when I pined for them here)? We were truly shocked when they arrived at our PO Box. Lesson learned? If you ask enough times, a manager might take pity on you and actually send a sign your way (instead of tossing it into the dumpster). So be the squeaky wheel, folks. And hooray for recycling! (Get it? Bicycle? Cycling? See what I did there?).
We haven’t figured out where to hang my new bike collection yet, so pictures “in situation” will have to wait for another post when we pin down proper locations.
But I do have “in situation” pictures of what Sherry gifted me. Any guesses?
Yup, it’s a white rhino. Specifically the large Robbie trophy that she bought me from Cardboad Safari. I know it’s probably one of the weirder sentences I’ve ever typed, but rhinos are kind of our thing. We even worked one into our blog header.
Sherry knows that I’ve always loved the larger Cardboard Safari creations (not that I don’t also love our little full-bodied Robbie, who makes frequent appearances in various places like our console table and our laundry room). Big Robbie is an especially fitting gift since I surprised Sherry with a ceramic rhino for V-day a while back (more on how that turned into a highly involved rhino scavenger hunt here). So apparently we like giving each other horned mammals. And they keep getting larger. Maybe we’ll end up with a life sized rhino in our kitchen someday a la the giant dog on Friends.
Oh but one word of warning for anyone else who’s eying a large trophy: be sure to consider how far they stick out from the wall when it comes to where you want to hang them (this guy comes out about 18 inches). We fortunately found this spot where no one’s gonna knock into him when they walk by or sit down (since you stand up in front of the chair and not on the chair). So while nobody puts Baby in a corner, we totally put Robbie in a corner. And we love him there.
Overall, the birthday celebrations were pretty low-key (just the way I like ‘em). My family took me out to dinner last night and my mom is babysitting tonight so Sherry can have a date with her old man (aka me, in case that was too cryptic for you). Lately she has been calling me her silver fox because I’m sporting some gray hair in the front. But she swears up and down that it’s a compliment. Her rebuttal is usually “Hello? Anderson Cooper – I rest my case.”
Oh, and since I never got around to making a “to do before I’m 30″ blog list (like Nicole), I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had actually made one on paper back in high school (as part of a prompt in my senior English class). Who knew keeping those old notebooks stored away would ever come in handy?
Looks like I had gone back and updated it with “Completed” marks sometime around 2005. And sadly I haven’t checked off many more since then. No new countries (#4), bungee jumping (#6) nor movie roles (#7) for me. Though Sherry and I did visit Hollywood (#8) on our first vacation together in October 2005.
And I sorta accomplished #9, if you count my run in with Kelly Clarkson at a client event in May of 2005.
Neither Sherry nor I can remember if we still had our fish when we got Burger, so #10 is an unknown. I definitely haven’t learned how to play the bass guitar (#11)… or even the regular guitar (though I owned one for a short time in 2002). But I did work for the National Geographic Channel (#12) in the summer of 2001. It was far from glamorous, but certainly more satisfying than seeing #13 come true. Oh the lofty dreams of an 18 year old…
And although I had completed #15 by visiting Hawaii with a friend before Sherry and I even started dating, it was nice to earn some bonus points by going to Alaska on our honeymoon.
Speaking of which, I’m gonna earn a third check mark on #15 when Sherry and I continue the turning-30 celebration next year (Sherry hits the big 3-0 in March) by following through on our plans to vacation in Hawaii (which will also multitask as a vacation to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary). But more on that another time. A long post like this has made these old bones weary. Just kidding. To anyone wondering, 30 feels just like 29. But Clara’s even more fun this year because she’s walking and talking (and singing hilarious songs). This morning, for example she sang this:
“Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you said.”
Anyways, thanks to my family for a fun 30th. And to everyone who made my 20′s an exciting and eventful decade. Here’s hoping the 30′s are just as fun!
Since Thanksgiving is suddenly upon us (how did that happen?) we thought we’d add a new tradition along with reviving one from last year. First let’s talk about the one from last year, which is a small thrift store jar that we got for 99 cents…
… and then etched with $6 etching cream from Michael’s…
… using a homemade tape stencil to create a Thanks jar (more DIY details here).
As for how it worked, we each filled out and dropped in a little homemade card with something we were thankful for each day for the entire month of November. And we weren’t allowed to peek inside to see what each other had written until the end of the month when we cracked it open and read them all.
It was nearly as fun as Christmas morning (more on that here), and is definitely something we’re looking forward to doing at the end of this month again (we saved all the original cards with a ribbon around that stack with the year written on it, and plan to save each following years’ stack as well to look back on). So we’re filling up our thanks jar again this year… along with another Thanksgiving tradition.
We thought since a few of our long-distance relatives can’t travel to see us that we could let them know that they’re in our thoughts by sending them a quick little card to tell them why we’re thankful for them. So John whipped this little homemade “thankful card” in Photoshop that says “I’m thankful for you and here’s why“:
He designed an easy to print page with two of those thankful cards on it along with this little instruction card that reads:
Since they’re all on one page, we won’t have much waste when we print them out on cardstock at home. Then we’ll just slip one filled out “thankful card” and a blank one for them to forward on to a friend or relative of their choice along with an instruction card. We hope it’ll create a nice little ripple effect with people reaching out to other folks to tell them how thankful they are to have them in their lives.
Oh and speaking of being thankful, you guys are like family to us and we’re so thankful that you drop in on us on this wacky little house diary of sorts. So as a token of our love and affection (picture me pinching your cheek like a grandma as I say that) we included a downloadable version of that page for you right here. Just download it, print it out on cardstock, cut each of the three cards out, and fill out one out while leaving the second one blank and sliding it into an envelope with the instruction card.
Then reward yourself with some early turkey and stuffing. Or leftover Halloween candy (are we the only ones still chowing down on ours?). Holy cow, is November really already half over? In the words of the always eloquent Bart Simpson: Ay carumba.
Psst- I’m over on BabyCenter pouring my heart out. Seriously, somebody get me a tissue. More here.