Wednesday, March 30, 2011

sWitChing blOGs

Hey followers!

Yes, it's been a freakin' year since our last post. We are not gone we just got....busy. That's a good thing for us, but not so good for you. Our neglect has probably made you run off for greener pastures. I don't blame you.

In two minutes or less, here's what we have been up to. Patricia joined her true calling and became a roller derby girl going by the name Slamburger Patty. She skates for the Dockyard Derby Dames of Tacoma WA. Her joining this cult has left poor old me as what is referred to in the derby world as a Derby Widow. It feels less like death than it implies but still there's a pretty big hole created when someone you are used to seeing all the time now has 4 hours of practice 4 nights a week.

So what did I do? I didn't cry like a tough girl's spouse I laced up some skates myself and told myself I was going to join men's derby or M-erby. Well, that didn't last too long. Men's derby isn't as fun as women's derby. This is clearly a sport that men should just leave alone (for a lot of reasons). Just ask me the next time you see me. I'll talk for hours about it (and I'm usually pretty quiet).

After a failing bid at men's derby I did what most every other spouse/partner of derby girls does. I became an official. Right now, I keep score and track penalties during bouts. But, my buddy Willie-wanna-konkya and I are going to join the ranks of skating refs in the near future.

The other little thing I've been up to is launching my business. In the past year, I began Spark Design under the premise to change the approach architects have taken to working with clients. As a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) kind of person I wanted to focus my practice on these same kinds of people. I've found it inspiring to see the growth of the DIY culture of the past decade. People are empowered by putting their own hands to work for themselves and with a little guidance I feel most people can accomplish what they to with out much help and a lot of encouragement. Or, at least, they can make some small changes that really make big differences on their own.

If you want to learn more, click the link about or here is the web code,

See you there!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

fUrthEr dOwn tHe pOrThoLe

Ha, an interlude starring the door's porthole.

Monday, January 4, 2010

in through the front door

Hi again,

Patricia: We are back from a fluffy, white New Years Eve in Bend, OR and have an update for you. The day before we left Spencer installed a near 200 lb. front door by himself. Yes, he is my hero!

Spencer: yep that door is dang heavy. But, heavy doors can make great doors. For proof take a look at this 9 ton gate made of coral in Florida. It pushes open and closed with just one finger.

To jog your memory, we bought the door below at the Restore as our 2nd Wedding Anniversary gift to ourselves. Here's what the door originally looked like (rotated for a better visual effect).
But it wasn't a door we could just install. We first had to lop off 12 inches from the bottom. Here I am clamping down a straight board as a guide for my straight cut.Note the safety glasses. Always, safety first, positioning second and style third.

Cool. Ready to install? Well, not so fast. There were scratches and holes from the old barn door hardware. To do this we stripped the door with a heat gun [like a super hot hair dryer] and a 5 in 1 tool [currently lost]. The holes were filled with Bondo and the scratches sanded smooth. Then we applied several coats of Osmo Park Lane finish. We chose Park Lane for its strong, durable coating that will protect our door from UV light rays and scratches and most important is friendly to all plants & animals as well as my lungs. I recommend using a very good paint brush [Purdy or equal] with this finish. The Osmo brand brush I bought frayed after the first cleaning. When the bristles spread on a brush it creates streaks and bubbles that can't be brushed out with a bad brush.

Coming from the basement, the door weighs just enough for me to grunt on every stair step. I had to take a 20 minute rest after I got to the top so my arm muscles wouldn't cramp. After that, getting the hinges lined up was like snapping two Lego pieces together. This part I was unsure of because it took the most to plan out. More planning than I'd care to write about...I then dropped the hinge pins into place and grabbed the door for it's inaugural swing closed.

A door with good weight and balanced equally on all three hinges swings smooth and consistent with little effort. This was how it was with our door. With little effort it moved smoothly toward the door frame. Then it stopped and my heart sank a little. The door frame wasn't as square as I thought. The bottom corner of the door hit a full 1/4 of an inch into the door frame.

Patricia was due home in an hour and I had only about 45 minutes of decent sunlight left. I wanted her to come home to the new door in place and working. The door sat perfect along the hinged side so I had one of two choices. I could take the door off the hinges and begin messing with the door frame. This meant I would likely have to tear open the wall and that wasn't what I wanted to get into with limited time. So I opted for chiseling away the door frame. Which turned out to be not to bad an idea. Beneath the layer of green paint was a door frame made of fir. Fir is soft, which meant I could chisel it. The chisel work was quick and sanding it smooth took only a few passes with medium grit sand paper. The door was swinging closed in less than 30 minutes.

Patricia was so pleased that she made us pose in front of the house that next morning before we left for Bend. I like to think she did that because she thought the door was so groovy that she wants to keep a photo of it in her wallet. Print out this photo if you do too?Yep, that's our Christmas tree in the foreground.

Coming up: A quick Dump and Why Bondo! is better.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some time off from blogging

Hi Everyone!

We haven't completely gone away but have been distracted from catching you all up on the progress of our home on GrayNol.

When we last left you, we had celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by purchasing a new front door. Yes, it was romantic, but so much has happened since then....

New siding is hung ...

We leaped head-first into fresh paint colors! - save your comments, there's no going back ...

the front porch light is installed - and we're still waiting for it to take-off ...

and we have a new mail box!
**** Special monthly surprise box goes to the first person to correctly guess the 1st-use of this mailbox. Does it look familiar, yet absurdly out of place? ****

So, the winter months mean we are now inside repairing the cuts and bruises the interior endured while we were working from the outside in. However, there are always exceptions - i.e. the sunshine lured us out the day after Christmas to break out the climbing ropes and harness to clean the roof & gutters.

To catch you up on where we've been, here are some exciting topics you can look forward to hearing about from us very soon: Depression at the dump, Seattle Rain Screen 101, perfect-fit window trim, minimal off-gassing, Ecohaus finishing products, drywall patchwork, Hardie Plank is your friend, and why Spencer thinks Bondo is a better. We also have some side stories to tell like how to feed three goats while maintaining neighbor diplomacy, birthing a head board in the attic and monkeys mating in Costa Rica! Yes, we've been busy, but we're still having fun :)

For now we unveil the (somewhat) current state of our house....

More to come,
Spencer & Patty

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Agony of Color and the Thrill of the Door

The rain broke and we finished the firring task. The sun was saying to us, "it's your 2nd wedding anniversary, go do something that freshly wed people would do." So, our love lead us to Ballard's Re-store for some high-end junk rather than some high-end food.
If you look closely, you can see Ned's back door is holding our 2nd Anniversary Present, can you guess what it is? If not scroll down for the answer.....

Patricia spotted this beauty on the clearance rack (as clearance as anything can get at a building salvage shop in the heart of the most desirable neighborhoods in Seattle). Since we all know the 2nd Anniversary is the Wood Door Anniversary we had take this door home with us.

As a side note, when searching for a new door in a salvage yard, take careful measurements of both your existing door and its frame. Our new door only needs some slight shaving along the sides and a few inches trimmed from the bottom. Most doors made now are not solid wood and neither is our new door. Many are made with wood fiber center covered by a thin layer of wood ( a veneer) on the front and back sides. These doors are all made with a short section of solid wood at the bottom, top and along both sides for making adjustments. We need to take a mere 1/4 inch off the width and about 4 inches off the height. It will be tricky to do and our friend Brian has lent us his circular saw to get the job done right. That job will have to wait. Patricia and I, tired from the previous day's work and looking for some pampering on our special day retired the remainder of our afternoon and all of our evening to Banya 5 for some earned hot and cold therapy.

While we rest in the Eucalyptus Steam Room you can have a glimpse of what our house will look like with the new door installed....
... at this late date (9/02/2009) we were still agonizing over the best colors.

By now (10/13/2009) we've made up our mind, and the true colors our up on our house. For you locals, you'll have to do a drive-by to see for yourself. Don't be shy - tell us what you think in person :) For the rest of you, well, you'll just have to wait until we catch up on our blog writing. Trust us, you'll love it - at least from afar.
:) Patty-homemaker & Color Master Spence

The Rain Came But so Did the Blue Tarp

Like many Seattle days we were visited by several days of rain. While our grass enjoyed the much needed drink of cool moisture bound in from the Pacific Ocean, Patricia and I pondered how to keep the progress going. Team work brought the best solution. While I knew we could work and stay dry under our two-feet-deep-eaves I hadn't many ideas about how to stay dry while cutting materials. Patricia then pepped up with, "let's use this blue tarp," which was large enough for one of us to run the saws under while the other worked under the eaves.

With our problem solved we were able to return to our best working relationship. With Patricia measuring and cutting and I nailing we both quickly finished the next stage of installing the firing strips needed to hold the siding slightly away from the house...
...This is not the traditional way houses are built but for our wet climate in Seattle this method is better for reducing the chance of our house "catching" The Mold. Later, I will explain with diagrams and pictures how this system, called a 'Rain Screen', works.

'til then my friends, I'm signing off. It's been another hard day of labor in the rain, while Patricia's back at work, cozy in her new office digs.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Windows and people we adore

Dear Followers,
Our apologies for the 2 week delay in posting an update on our GrayNol home project. I know we've left many of you holding your breath wondering what happened after we cut all of those gaping holes into our new home?! Believe me, I've been holding my breath right along side you. Now I'm breathing again ... here's the story:

By the time we managed to successfully rip the 12th window out our house - we had boards over our windows at night, heaps of building debris all over the yard, plaster in our bed and on our pillows, and a skittish kitty who learned to cuddle-up and sleep all day next to the shock waves of the nail gun compressor.

Pat Noland's back in action! - thanks Pat.

Life without windows - it gave our home a cabana-like feeling by day (like Jamaica!) ... um, not so cozy by night with boards blocking out any light and wondering if we might encounter a squatter inside our house the next morning!

We were up to our neck in construction, and there was no turning back. After ripping out all of the windows, we furred out the house by creating another wall surrounding the existing frame of the house. This allowed us to build the exterior walls of our home out, flush with the edge of the foundation (it looks like the foundation was built for brick, but it had no brick!). That also allowed us to keep the existing insulation and house wrap and add a second layer of both insulation and house wrap. So, we easily doubled the efficiency of our home, while adding more water protection and a frame to attach the new siding to.

Notice on this corner of the house, we are building a bay window :)

Yet, we couldn't install one new window until we finished framing the house and called for an inspection. Luckily, bureaucracy was on our side. The same day we called the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development for an inspection - they arrived and we passed inspection! After getting some great tips (adding smoke alarms and proper house ventilation) from a friendly building official, finally, we could start putting our house back together.

Ready for inspection.

Jimmy Tsen came back to help frame! Thanks, Jim!

A few days prior, the big yellow truck arrived with our new windows! Two friendly guys from Pella Windows unloaded our latest investment - 14 new Energy Star qualified, Pella - Proline Windows.

Then the crew was ready to help - Christian, Fred and Fred joined in for the fun of window installation. These guys managed to install 9 windows in one day!

First new window!

Christian prepping for the next window install

Fred Perry installing house wrap

Fred Johnson spraying foam insulation - just after this photo was taken he caught an important mistake. This spray foam was not the kind with minimal expansion, designed for windows and doors, and if left to dry could have bowed our windows to the point of making them unable to open or operate. Good catch, Fred!

Now we're sitting prettier with new windows, insulation, and lots of light pouring into our house. We still have lots to finish: siding, paint, staining, and cleaning up and finishing all of the windows from the inside.

More to come.
Stay tuned,
patty homemaker