Thursday, July 31, 2014


Walt Kowalski was playing with the bubble stuff.  Not unusual at the Cat Ranch.  The other morning he was playing golf in the house with a large candy cane, a small soccer ball, and Cocoa Fluffy.

We thought the four-footed-furballs would be interested in the bubbles, but they were pensive, curious, and a little scared.


I think they were expecting the bubbles to do more.  When they touched the bubbles, and they popped, it was rather uneventful.  I think we need to have more bubble stuff practice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wax on, Wax off

Or in my case, grout on, grout off.  For the ladies, it was paint on. Roll on!

I spent most of the day on my knees grouting the kitchen floor.

I'm using the same gray in the kitchen and the bathroom (and the laundry). 

Meanwhile, the painting crew was working in the bedrooms.  The Mama of the house wanted some color for the bedroom of the 4-year-old.  The Mama was thinking a nice pale shade of pink.

The 4-year-old had other colors in mind.

Mama: NO.  How about this pretty mauve?
4YO: No.  Bright Blue!
Mama:  No.  How about pink?
4YO: No.  Purple.
Mama:  A light purple?
4YO: No.
Mama: How about just on one wall?


Purple with glitter. 

Mama was a little nervous to put the dark purple on the new white wall.  After mixing the glitter, and taking a big breath, she dove in.  (Worst case, it can be covered by additional paint.)

It was beautiful!  Dark, but beautiful. 

The glitter was really cool.  Just as cool as the confetti my sister used on the walls in my niece's rooms. 
It turned out really nice.  It looks like a starry night sky.  I can't wait to see it at night.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where Do Cats Grow?

On Cat Trees!
We have more than a tree at the Cat Ranch.  We have a condominium. 
Pepper is modeling the top shelf.   Fudge, by the back door, is usually on the next shelf down and will defend his perch.
The cat condo had some wear and tear.  It has a LOT of wear and tear.  But it's doing a good job.  The cats love it.  They claw the ropes instead of the couch and perch to look out the window. 

But the sheepskin is wearing thin.  There is more cat hair than sheepskin now (it won't come off even with the brush attachment of the sweeper) and every time the wind blows through the window, you see a breeze of fur fill the room. 

I thought about just covering the sheepskin with more sheepskin, but there were several hariball remnants that would not come out and I wanted fresher smells (it is near the kitchen). The old material had to go.

Under the material is a particle board and cardboard tubes for the scratching posts. I have some new-used clean material, but now I'm reconsidering my options.  The cats don't sit or claw on the sides of the "house" areas.  Only inside and on top.  Now I'm thinking about some cleanable paint for the "houses" with some nice washable cushions inside.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.  Lots of options. 

Stay tuned for the finished product.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rubber Duckie, You're the One

You make bath time lots of fun.  Rubber Duckie, I'm awfully fond of you.  Vo-vo-dee-o!
Walt Kowalski is now able to say "She spent the entire weekend in the bathtub!"  I was ready for a shower when I was done.  The progress looks great.  Only 4 more rows needed above the shower head and a couple individual tile near the floor.  Then on to tiling the floor. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bathroom Progress

We bought a surround for the bathtub/shower.  We didn't get the cheapest one, we got the next one up.  It looked nice in the store.  5 pieces, so we didn't have to struggle to get it in the house, up the stairs, and into the bathroom.  8 shelves, 3 in each corner, a long one along the bottom and top. 

Walt Kowalski opened the box, read the directions, and started to put it together.

Then he almost threw it out the window of the second floor bathroom. 

Not only was it broken on the corners due to bad packaging, but it was cheap and flimsy.  We didn't even buy the cheapest one!  He was not pleased. 

For almost the same price, we could install tile. 

Tile it is.  

The first row is the hardest.  You have to get a straight, square start. 
I only removed the first row once.  J

I always forget that tile is labeled a specific size, but is a different size when you measure the tile.  The tile in the kitchen was slightly smaller than the size on the box.  The bathroom tile were slightly larger than the size on the box.  They are 6" by 6" squares, but measure 6 1/16" by 6 1/16" square. 

That 1/16 of an inch doesn't seem like much until you align 5 tile together.  Now I've gained over a 1/4 of an inch, which means if I start in the left corner of the tub, I missed my center line.  I needed to start at the center line and work out from both sides.  The end tiles will need a little trimming, but my handy dandy wet saw solves that problem. 
Once I get rolling, the tile go up pretty quickly.  We went with the subway pattern, but used square tile. 

This isn't the first bathroom I've tiled.  Here's the bathroom at the Cat Ranch.  This was my first home improvement ever.  I jumped in with both feet.  Yikes! 

Looking back, I can see "mistakes" I made.  Maybe mistakes is too harsh of a word.  I know more about remodeling now.  I'll fix them on the next upgrade.  But the bathroom still looks good.   I can also tell you that in only 7 years, the building products have improved. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Box o' Lettuce

I worked all day yesterday.  Forgot to take a single picture of my work.  *sigh* I'll do better today.

Instead, I will leave you with a box of lettuce.  Everybody has taken a turn in the box. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Clouds, Cats, and Continues

The clouds before the storm this morning were beautiful.  The power wires, not so much. The storm missed us, but we still got a show.

Here is the great Big Tuna Breath wearing her feathered headdress. Walt Kowalski "tortures" all of them equally.  This was Oreo's turn.

Finally the continues or rather the To Be Continueds.  Updates on several items for those who asked.

1.  The shrubs that one neighbor cut that belong to another neighbor (Drama and Windows) are still laying in the yard.  They haven't moved and are now dry.  No one has even attempted to clean up the pile. 

2.  The ladder is still leaning against the house of the Yellers who live above the Cat Ranch.  8 weeks and counting. 

3.  Big Jim's house next door has got lots of improvements!  They removed the fence in the front yard and put in new plants and mulch.  They got a new roof and new windows and siding are on the list!  Great improvements for the neighborhood.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bits and Pieces

I hate wasting anything.  It makes me very angry when I lose a vegetable in the fridge and it spoils.  You should see what I do to the toothpaste tube.  When I can't squeeze anymore out, I cut the end off and I can get 2 more weeks of tooth brushing from that tube.

Walt Kowalski just rolls his eyes at me. 

What? There's more inside.  Lotion tubes, peanut butter jars, the crumbs a the bottom of the bag of chips, makeup containers. There is always more product inside that tube or bottle or jar.  It becomes a challenge to get every last drop. 

Just as I think Walt Kowalski is rolling his eyes, he turns out to be a non-waster, too. 

With any project (tile, laminate floor, drywall, paint) there is always some left over.  Sometimes, like paint, it's just extra in the gallon.   A extra paint is never a bad thing.  Sometimes, like tile, it's all the little pieces that were cut off for installation around registers and corners.  Not full pieces, not even half pieces. 

Walt Kowalski saved them all.  And he used them all.  Around the pipes coming from the basement.  There will always be cabinets in the kitchen.  These tile will never be seen unless the cabinets are replaced. Even then, the tile will only be seen momentarily until the new cabinets are installed. 

I'll fill in the spaces with extra grout.

While Walt Kowalski was using up the tile pieces, I was using up the drywall pieces.  The stairs up to the attic and down to the basement needed drywall.  We left both for last for this exact reason.  the insulation needed covered, but the drywall and plaster didn't need to be perfect like the other walls in the house.  

The laundry room walls were next on our list. 

Three walls done.  1 ceiling and 1 wall to go. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Floors, Floors, Floors

The kitchen floor to be specific.

First, we screwed the cement board down to the plywood.  This helped removed any bounce from the current plywood floor and prepared the floor for the mortar AND created an additional water barrier. 

Then, came the mixing of the mortar.  I'm a good cement mixer. {Insert Italian joke here} I say it's because I'm a good baker.

 Doesn't it look like brownie mix?  Now I'm hungry for brownies.

5 minutes of mixing.  Water, cement, water, cement, mix, mix, stir, stir.

The instructions say to wait 5 to 10 minutes after initial mixing. 
Walt Kowalski said 'You know what you can do in 5 to 10 minutes?'

'Don't take my picture!' Walt Kowalski said.  'Fine.  I will wear my pencil mustache disguise. Nobody will know it's me.'  He cracks me up. 

The pencil mustache is also a thinking position as needed. 

The placement of the first tile requires a LOT of thinking and measuring. 

Where do we want to start the first full tile? 
Where do we want to start the first full row of tile?
Where will the last cut tile end?  
Where do we want the last cut tile to end?  Here?  Or here? 
What if we adjust this way a bit? 
What if we adjust that way a bit?
Big grout line? Little grout line?  No grout line?
Where is the flow of traffic? 
Where are the cabinets? Where is the door?

Things we have planned and talked about numerous times.  Now it was crunch time.

We got a plan and the first row installed. I mix and smooth the mortar onto the floor, Walt Kowalski uses the concrete trowel (not to be confused with a gardening trowel) to scrape off the excess and get the proper depth. 

We decided on the tiniest grout lines and to alternate the tile pattern in a brick formation so the grout lines are not straight or stacked.  This way we hope to disguise the crookedness of the house.  I already marked the center of the tiles and Walt Kowalski places the tile in the mortar. We do make a good team. 



That was the end of day one.  We started at the front of the kitchen, at the breakfast nook by wall divider between the nook and the living room. We knew saw we were going to "paint" ourselves into a corner, so we planned ahead and put a ladder at the back door.  This way if we couldn't jump over the finished tile to leave, we would have an escape hatch. 
Near the end of Day Two a momentary problem appeared.  The tile were 18 inch by 18 inches, but measured size of 17 5/8 inches by 17 5/8 inches square.  One box of tile was actually 17 1/2 inches by 17 1/2 inches.  An 1/8 of an inch doesn't seem like much, but it created a larger grout line where we did not want a larger grout line.  Luckily we realized this sooner rather than later and were able to adjust. 

We will adjust for this in the laundry and bathroom.  Actually, I'll just measure ALL of the tiles before we start. 

We stopped here at the end of day two for several reasons:

1. We couldn't do any more without walking on the recently installed tile.
2. We were out of mixed mortar.
3. We were tired.

Walt Kowalski spent the day on his knees, but I needed to be more mobile to bring mortar and tile as needed.  Instead, I spent the day in Downward Facing Dog position.

This is the Downward Facing Dog position of yoga for those who are not familiar:

Needless to say, my quads and calves are strong and tired after several days in this position. 

But with all hard work comes the reward...

A Dilly Bar.  J