Bunny Salad

Last Saturday night we went to a surprise 40th birthday party for our new pastor (who will tell you that he’s still 39 for a few more days, LOL). We had a great time meeting new people from our new church, as well as hanging out with old friends who were there. The food and cake were great, we got to give Ryan a hard time about being a cubs (lowercase intentional) fan, and the weather was beautiful.

Steve and Ginger were sitting by the pool enjoying their hot dogs, and Robert and I were talking with some other folks closer to the house. That’s when I saw him.

Hey, Ginger! Look! A bunny is behind your chair! Not wanting to scare him, I texted her. She couldn’t see him and thought I was pulling her leg, so I started snapping photos.

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Yum! A salad bar! LOL

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Stretchhhhhhhhh!

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I wonder if we should have offered him a hot dog?

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Extra Foam, Please

I remember working with my dad and going up into our attic on occasion as a child.  There were fluffy pink batts of insulation between the boards, and I was warned not to step on them, touch them, or get any of the fibers in my eye.  This traditional insulation is very itchy – ask me how I know.  :-)

Fast forward a few decades and the latest in insulation technology is spray foam.  Which is just what it sounds like.  It’s a Styrofoam type product that is sprayed between the studs of your home.  Because it’s sprayed, it can get into nooks and crannies that traditional insulation cannot, therefore providing a superior outcome.

First up, the installer went through the house sealing up any noticeable spaces between the boards, and around the doors and windows.  The stained concrete floors were covered with rosin paper to protect them during the spraying.  Then the foam was sprayed on the ceiling – remember those ice house roof panels?

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And on all the exterior walls.

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Obviously, the foam doesn’t spray nice and neat, but instead in – well – blobs.

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Therefore, the installer has to go back and cut off the protruding blobs of foam to make the insulation flush with the studs, in preparation for drywall.

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But before drywalling (that’s a verb, right?) can commence, there’s one more crucial step.  We had an air infiltration test conducted to determine how “tight” our house was.  To be considered Energy Star efficient, homes must have a rating under 1,500 for an air infiltration test equivalent to a 30-mph wind on every side of the house.

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A rating between 500-1000 was what we were looking for, and we were told most homes first rate at approximately 4,000.  Before sealing the leaks, we were at 1,300.  That means our house was already pretty tight to begin with.  After using “smoke sticks” which were held near doors, windows, and the duct work – basically any spot that might have a leak – any leaks found received additional spray foam and we received a subsequent rating under 1,000.  This is not actually completely accurate for us as we still had one place where there was no wall and a plastic tarp was used as a temporary wall.  After drywall is put up, the house will get even tighter.

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Our air infiltration testers repeatedly emphasized that this is the time to conduct the test – before drywall.  It’s much harder to find the leaks and fix them once the walls are up.

With a house sealed so tightly, there’s a concern that air quality would be diminished.  To accommodate for this, we are installing an HRV – a heat recovery ventilator.  This device exchanges stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air.  In the winter it will also warm the cold air coming into the house and in the summer it will cool the hot air coming inside.  Pretty nifty, huh?

There are other benefits to spray foam insulation as well.  It works to minimize sound, it’s environmentally friendly, it doesn’t settle, and it provides a solid level of insulating that traditional products can’t match.  It’s also more expensive, at least up front.  But savings from energy expenses can definitely outweigh increased installation costs over time.  Many times utility companies also offer rebates if you’re looking to improve the insulation in your home.  Be sure to check yours out before installing.

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That’s our contractor, Melvin, in the photo with us.  He’s awesome.

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Fiber U – 2014

I have been fortunate to have been involved with Fiber U from the beginning, teaching in its second year.  It’s always one of my favorite local events and this year was no exception.

I finally got smart and didn’t schedule an 8:00 a.m. class on Saturday since I have to get up early and drive an hour to the event, so my first class was at 10:00, giving me an hour to shop first.  The market is always very good.  But somehow I managed not to get a single picture.

My first class was DIY sock yarn, which you may recall has become a bit of an interest for me.  Adding as many dye techniques to my arsenal could be dangerous.

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I taught my Social Media Marketing class in the afternoon.  This is one of my favorite classes to teach because a lot of it is discussion-oriented and you never know where it’s going to go.  I had lots of good questions that got added to my handouts for future classes.

At Fiber Retreat in Jefferson City this year I wanted to take Zelma Cleveland’s The Calculating Spinner class, but it was scheduled opposite another class I was teaching.  This class overlapped with mine, but I got to sit in for the last 1 1/2 hours.

Saturday night I had dinner with my Fiber Folks friends.  We don’t get to see each other enough!

Sunday morning I was back at it early, taking a basket making class from Mary McCreery.  I’ve wanted to take a basket weaving class for some time now, but scheduling has never worked out.  This was a lot of fun, and I would definitely take another class to make a second basket!

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Sunday afternoon I taught my class again and then headed home.  I’m already looking forward to next year!

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Designing a Custom Home – Part 7 – Making Decisions and Changing Your Mind

Let’s face it. Building a home is a huge project and that means you’ve got eleventy-billion decisions to make, big and small. Sometimes you have plenty of time to mull things over and other times you need to make the decision on the spot. Questioning if you made the right decision or regretting a choice you’ve made is only natural. It’s a hard job bringing a vision you had in your head to life! Remember, pretty much anything can be changed; it’s mainly a matter of how much it will cost. So here’s some tips about changing your mind.

1. Try to stick to your original plan as much as possible. Presumably you’ve invested quite a bit of time designing your home’s floorplan, and you’ve already made the hard decisions. Trust the process, unless there’s something you absolutely hate and were talked into against your better judgment. Any changes to the floorplan need to happen early, so if that large sunroom you dreamed of doesn’t seem quite as large when the slab is poured, that’s the time to make the adjustment.

2. Realize you’re going to make some mistakes. My floor outlets in the family room and sunroom are totally in the wrong spots, and it’s my fault. My original ideas of furniture placement have morphed during the process, and I’m sure will change many more times before things are finally settled.

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3. Some decisions you’re not going to have a lot of options. During our electric rough-in, we had the foresight to have the internet company come out and pre-wire the house. It’s so much easier before walls and brick are up, and will eliminate unsightly wires on the exterior of our house. The only issue? Where we’re moving we have to have satellite internet, which means the satellite has to face north and be unobstructed. The front of our house faces north. So yeah, I didn’t have a lot of choices as to where that pesky little satellite could be mounted. Trust the professionals; this is the time to take their recommendations.

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4. Some decisions you’re not going to have a lot of time. My least favorite part of this process so far has been having to determine quite early where light switches and outlets would go, and which switch would turn on which light, etc. How can anyone know that at that stage? Make your best guess, and do your research ahead of time to give you a better chance to make an educated guess. For example, one of my big complaints in bathrooms these days is not enough outlets. I’ve got an electric toothbrush and electric flosser, so I have to unplug one of them to use my hair dryer and then my hair straightener. And forget about having a night light, LOL. Unless . . . quad outlet, anyone?

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5. Some decisions you make early will affect other decisions you didn’t consider. I am a lover of pocket doors. Regular doors take up wall and floor space whereas pocket doors slide neatly into the wall. The problem? I didn’t realize and no one explained that there’s a frame double the size of the door so the door can slide into the other half. That means everywhere I put a pocket door (and there are 13, people!), I can’t put a nail in the wall to hang anything. Here’s hoping those 3M hangers really work.

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6. Some decisions you make early you’ll want to change as you get additional information. Originally I wasn’t going to have a cabinet or sink in the sunroom, but as time went on I knew I wanted it. Fortunately, we already had plumbing in that wall and just had to order an additional cabinet. Also, we weren’t going to have a door off the sunroom to the side of the house (there are French doors leading to another patio). But once we realized we would have to have a deck or something off of the door from the garage to the back, it made sense to add an additional door.

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7. Some decisions you make early you’ll want to change because you’ve changed. People say, “make a decision and stick to it,” and that’s good advice in most situations. However, because we’ve been jumping on slick deals and close outs for lighting and plumbing fixtures, some of my decisions have been driven more by cost. Early in the process I bought light fixtures and recently realized that I was never in love with the one for the entryway. This past week I found one that was exactly what I was envisioning, and although now I have an extra fixture we’re not using and can’t return, that was a small price to pay.

8. Some decisions you’ll make early you’ll have to change because of cost. We considered both a 3-car garage and a large bonus room above, but both were cost-prohibitive. We elected to have an over-sized 2-car garage that gives us more than enough space, but eliminated buying that additional door. The bonus room was scrapped entirely.

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9. Some decisions you make you’ll change because you forgot about something or saw something cool that you wanted to incorporate in your home. When meeting with the cabinet guy, I totally forgot to tell him we wanted a trash can cabinet, so that was an email to him requesting the addition. Then when reviewing my Houzz ideabooks, I saw an in-door spice rack and totally wanted one, causing another email to poor Tim. I’ve got another idea cooking right now, but the problem is Tim is an excellent cabinet maker but not big on technology, so when I email him, somehow he always responds to Robert. So I can’t be sneaky (not that I would, LOL). This is also a test to see if Robert is reading my blog posts. :-)

10. Listen to your friends and family. You may think you know exactly what you want, but they’ve got some good ideas, too, and maybe ones you haven’t thought of. You’d hate to finish the home and think, “Oh, I wish we’d done this,” and have your sister remind you that she suggested it months ago.

Have you built or remodeled a home? What changes did you make during the process?

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Stained Concrete Floors – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly/Pretty

I mentioned in an earlier post that we were going to have stained concrete floors in the new house, and explained our reasons for this decision which primarily dealt with cost and energy efficiency. But I didn’t talk about the aesthetics or some of the other benefits of these floors, so let’s do that now.

Although you can stain existing concrete floors (check out this post by Ana-White) when planning for stained concrete in new construction there are some additional things to consider. First, the slab can be prepared at the time of pouring to be smoothed out in anticipation of future staining. Since the slab is the floor and won’t be covered up, it’s important to have the nicest finish possible.

(Side Note: Check out Ana White’s new Alaskan DIY TV show on HGTV!)

Second, as a matter of course, concrete cracks. Therefore, it’s common to score the slab to minimize the stress on the structure. This is the time to consider incorporating some design in your floors. Although you can add designs later, when we had our slab scored it was part of the normal preparation, so there was no additional cost. We opted to have the scoring lines cut on a 45-degree angle to appear as if we have 36″ x 36″ giant floor tiles.

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There was one little mishap with the scoring, and apparently somehow another gash happened. Boo! They’re in the worst possible place in the sunroom, so I think I’ll be buying a rug down the road. There were also some natural cracks because it was hotter than Hades when the slab was poured, but I think some of these add visual interest to the floor.

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Although this one looks like an earthquake rocked our kitchen. It was really bad the day the stain was applied, but as it darkened, it’s not as awful as before. I’m still not pleased with the cracks, but understood this could happen.

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We opted for a dark brown stain to be as similar to our hardwood floors as possible. Because there’s naturally some shading in the concrete, the stain was absorbed in differing tones, creating an interesting effect.

This is what they looked like the day they were stained.

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However, the acid has to stay on for 24 hours and then sprayed off with water, and then the floors are sealed which is what give it that glossy sheen. The initial color is also not the final color, as the color itself actually cures.

This is what our final floors look like.

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Stained concrete floors are easy to maintain, and don’t require any special ongoing treatments. They’re easy to clean, too, so that’s another bonus. The only drawback I can see at this point is that they are concrete – so things dropped will likely be things broken. That’s why we bought some new Corelle dishes in anticipation, LOL.

What do you think? Would you ever have stained concrete floors? Would those cracks bother you?

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