Blog Archive

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

See Ya, Ugly Tile

This weekend Dave and I finally decided to take the plunge (er, the scraper) and rip out the carpet in the dining room to begin the supposedly grueling process of remove the 1950s tile that is glued to the concrete. Our plan is to remove ALL the carpet and ALL the tile from the WHOLE house and lay Pergo (read: "fake wood") laminate instead. Not having done any of this before we can honestly say that we don't know what we're getting ourselves into.

We started in the dining room because it is sort of isolated in terms of flooring--the only room it opens up to is the kitchen and that has the requisite linoleum anyway. So if we do this one room and decide it is just too much work or if we screw up the laminate installation, then having just the isolated dining room with different flooring won't look so bad. Plus, it has sliding doors to close it off from the rest of the house so we can avoid contaminating the rest of the house with ancient adhesive and tile dust.

From Home Depot we armed ourselves with a Wonder Bar (not a wonder bra...), a chisel, dust masks, ear plugs, very stylish knee pads, and a "professional grade floor scraper".

Here's what we started with--low-end, crappy, light colored carpet (that has since become even crappier and darker-colored, thanks to the dogs and our muddy feet):

I spent the morning removing all the stuff from the room, which, of course, includes all 3 sets of china (how did I acquire this much stuff?), the house plants, the pictures, and the crystal. Then Dave helped me move all the furniture. All of it (except for the hutch) fit into the guest bedroom, surprisingly. I think I made something like 40 trips from the dining room to the guest room. The hutch is hanging out in the living room for the time being.

We rolled up the carpet and the foam stuff and hauled it out to the garage. I guess we'll just pile it up and take it to the dump later. We've looked under the carpet before so we knew what the tiles looked like...but it is pretty hideous to see an entire room covered in that stuff! And boy does it make the room echo-y. Our dining room suddenly looked like a 1950s high school multipurpose room:

There were holes all over the room about 1/2 inch across, most of which were plugged with a plastic cap. We think these are the holes the pest guy drilled all over the house (before we bought it) to poison the ground-dwelling termites that infested a few of the rooms. Gross. It is said that there are only two types of houses: those that have had termites and those that will have termites. Here in Davis we have the ground-dwelling type mostly. Since we live in an oldish house that is adjacent to an oldish park with lots of huge trees, I'm not surprised at all by the little buggers. Anyway...

The first few tiles just popped right off and in nice large pieces. I quickly realized that I had (of course) started in the very easiest corner of the room because NONE of the rest of the tiles came off so easily. I used that fancy scrapper a lot and found that it worked best when I used my right arm to ram it under the tile's edge. Others required use of the chisel and hammer and even then only came off in very small, very unsatisfying little pieces. Here's my progress after only 1 hour:

After a while Dave came back inside (he was using the remaining sunlight of the day to work on the gates outside) to help me. He realized that if you just smack the tile edge with a hammer they will just bust apart, without damaging the concrete underneath. Sweet! We finished the remaining 2/3 of the room in no time at all (well, 30 minutes). The floor is black from the adhesive, but it is smooth and not sticky. All we have to do now is fill those termite poison holes with filler, choose our laminate, figure out how to install it (and if we need to do anything to remedy the remaining film of adhesive on the concrete--to ensure that the new adhesive will stick properly), and install it. We'll also replace the base trim to make the room look pretty. I'm confident that the hardest part is past us now. Except that we still have another 1000 square feet of floor left to do in the rest of the house...sigh...

It's been a lot of work so far (we're still very sore) but we know that there are worse things we could do with our time than to work on our home together. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Well, the holiday season has finally ended in our household--we took the last of our guests to the airport very early this morning. Edward's dog, Emmy, was the last to leave, flying out of the Sacramento airport at 8am and I heard from her very anxious parents that she just arrived back in New York. Thank goodness! Ten hours of flying and 2 stop-overs is a lot for a cute little doggie to endure.

Dave and I were counting up all the folks who stayed at our place since school finished in December...I think we counted 13 different people. Whew...that's a lot of dirty towels and sheets! I just deflated the air bed and stripped the hide-a-bed and futon of their sheets so I can get the house back to "normal". Normal around here means always having a guest bed ready to go, however, as we're lucky to have my parents come for frequent visits. We love that about living in Davis; it is close enough to the people we love that we get to see them a lot.

When Edward arrived we made a "to do" and "to eat" list. We only missed three things: going to the antique tractor museum (which we decided to wait on until my dad could come along), going to Lake Berryessa for a hike and swimming the dogs (there were too many storms...), and eating fondue. Oh well! I got the fondue set out and everything but just never found enough time to make and eat it. Hopefully we'll get to that on his next visit.

Here are the pictures of us and our whole leg of lamb (it was first on our "to eat" list).

The leg, complete with skin and fat:

The leg, with skin and some fat removed. We cut little slits all over it and stuffed some of the marinade goop inside the meat then rubbed the rest all over to marinate for about an hour. The marinade goop consisted of fresh dill, soy sauce, fresh ginger, pepper, garlic, and sugar--the dill seemed a bit random but it was FANTASTIC:

After about an hour on the grill it was ready to eat. We ate it with couscous and thick yogurt. YUM:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

No Power for the Bowers!

Thank goodness Edward and I prepared the outside of the house for that storm--it was really intense! We woke up around 9 am on Friday (gimme a break...I'm on Christmas break...sleeping in is healthy!) to horrendous wind and a thick layer of tree debris all over the neighborhood. Our power was also out. It didn't come back on until this morning, sometime around 5 am when the sudden brightness from my bedside lamp woke me up.

Because of the intense wind, we decided against leaving the house until it died down around 1 pm. The 5 of us (three humans and two dogs) cuddled under blankets on the couch to stay warm since our heater wasn't operating. Lucky for us, we just installed a new gas range over the holidays so we were able to cook a hot breakfast and make coffee (also lucky for us, Allison--Edward's girlfriend--had just given us a pound of ground coffee, otherwise Dave would have had to grind some of our regular whole beans with the mortar and pestle. He's had a lot of practice grinding seemingly ungrindable things in the past so it wouldn't have been too big of a deal...).

After I came home from work the boys decided that they were really bored since all the things they would normally do to occupy themselves requires electricity (Wii, computer games, movies, etc.). I had no problem settling down in the wingback chair, reading a fantastic book called Truck, A Love Story.

During a break in the rain and before it got too dark we took the pooches to the park to de-energize them. There were lots of other folks there with their dogs doing the exact same thing. This is a picture of our family being "tough". Don't you just love Dave's workout pants and raincoat? Ooh, and how about my cool new rubber boots I just bought at the Tractor Supply Store? (We look cool and we know it!)

For dinner we cooked up some of the homemade coarse-grained semolina pasta my Daddy and I made on New Year's Eve with some homemade marinara sauce augmented with kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, white wine, pecorino romano cheese, and a glug or four of champagne (we have tons left over from the party and just don't know enough ways to get rid of 4 open bottles of flat champagne...). The dish turned out delightful; I can't complain that the power outage caused us any caloric trauma. =o)

Cooking by candle light isn't nearly as hard as it might sound:

Afterwards we went to the UCD men's basketball game against UC Riverside (Edward's alma mater). Both teams sucked (and probably usually suck), with a final semi-victory by Davis of 58:54. At least it was warm in the Pavillion and there were lights. We considered bringing out laptops and Nintendo DS's to charge them up but decided against it...

This is us screwing around at the game during one of the millions of time-outs called:

After that, the boys went to see some lame-o alien movie while I stayed home and kept my Energy Star self occupied with a candle-lit bath and more reading. Sigh, life is hard sometimes but we just have to pull through.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy 2008 everyone!

Dave and I had a great New Year's party this year at our house--we had about 20 people over with lots of food, game-playing, chatting, and fun. This picture is of us when the ball dropped on the telly. The little guy is Alex, our friends Mari and Matt's new baby boy. He's only 6 weeks old but he's quite the party boy already. Their family spent Christmas with us, too, as Mari's parents were in town.

The first of 3 major rain/wind storms has just torn it's way through Davis. Last night I received a "hazardous weather advisory" email from campus warning researchers to monitor their outdoor experiments over the weekend and to secure anything loose. Edward and I spent some time running around the yards at home laying all the lumber down on the ground instead of leaning against the house and shed. We also dismounted our clothes line/tree thing and brought that inside the garage. Boy, am I glad we did all that! The wind was ferocious around dawn and continued in major gusts until about 12:30pm. There are branches all over the streets and in our yard from our neighbor's spruce tree. I ran over to her house this morning and suggested that she move her car into the street since there was a broken branch hanging right over her car.

We've also not had any power since sometime in the middle of the night. I'm thankful that we were able to install our new gas range over the holidays--just in time for this storm--so that we can still cook a hot meal and make coffee.