Monday, December 28, 2009

We made it!

We had a very Happy Christmas here at Ferretworld - although it was busy until the very last minute. The plumber and electricians were here on Wednesday and connected the kitchen and some of the electrics. We also have the washing machine back inside after 4 months on the deck. The dishwasher was a casualty of being stored outside and we have to order a new one, however after washing dishes in a bowl for the last 2 months it's so nice to have a real sink with running water.

On Christmas Eve afternoon we finally finished cleaning the house up and moving furniture and managed to get out to Castle Rock Christmas Tree farm to get our tree. We installed the tree in our new family room. (The electricians activiated one circuit so we could plug in the tree lights and a lamp).

Stockings were finally hung, although the hand-knitted stockings that I made for the boys are in a box somewhere, so some tights had to do instead. The following morning the family room looked like this:

Our first meal in the new kitchen was Christmas dinner - and I'm pleased to report that it worked well.

I had ordered a meal from WholeFoods which was good as I discovered that I had only 2 pans, none of our Christmas china, and no serving dishes available. Still - it tasted just as good served from my pyrex baking ware.

I hope your Christmas was as happy and comfortable as ours.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

House update - the race to the finish

Well, actually we are not finished by quite some distance - but we are trying to get actually into the kitchen for Christmas day. My backup plan is to barbecue the turkey!

The living and kitchen floor went in this week - the floor is a stranded bamboo by Dansk. It's an engineered flooring material: strips of bamboo glued into a solid plank that is then nailed down. The glue makes the bamboo much more hardwearing as the non-stranded products apparently tend to scratch. It reminds me of the glue beams that were used in the structure of the house.

We also got our new sofa which arrived before the floor was completed and had to sit in the garden until there was room to bring it inside!

The kitchen counter was installed yesterday - but the kitchen is full of electricians, plumbers, and carpenters so I am keeping out of the way. I have replaced all the handles on the old cabinet doors, and installed them on the new doors - so as soon as everyone leaves I will start filling the cabinets and get the piles of food out of the living room!

A birthday in the snow

Adam celebrated his 9th birthday in the snow. We went to Bear Valley for a couple of days. The boys both had lessons and really improved their style. Adam is all about the moves on his board and the boarder talk in the lift line!
They both had the confidence to try out some of the (small) jumps: here is Fin catching some air.
They are both good enough skiing and boarding to be able to ski with us all over the mountain and since the lines were short we put in some serious hours skiing...I was exhausted - but they still had energy to celebrate with friends in the evening.
Adam's best friend Henry also took his first boarding lessons and they were able to go out together on the cub slope.
Happy birthday to my little dude!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

House Update: Week eighteen

Progress on the house is so fast that I am clearly not keeping up blogging about it (or about anything else). There is a lot happening here at the moment:

Painting: Bedroom, bathroom, and utility room all done. Our bedroom is shown here painted in Benjamin Moore colour Exhale. The wall between the windows is planned to be covered with wallpaper - a brown base with metallic leaves.

Tiling: The old bathroom has received it's patch which I really like. The tile is a glass/marble/black stone mosaic from Home Depot. Now all we need to do is get the contractor to remove the paperwork which is trapped between the screen and window of the new skylight and we might have some natural light in here.

The utility room is also tiled - again some cheap tile from Home Depot in here. Marzetti limestone-effect ceramic tiles with a mocha grout. Thanks to Rocky Hudson of Dynamic Ceramics.

Our bathroom tile is also complete - the floor is Panaria Stoneboard in petrol grey, and the stone accent is Island Stone in Java Grey. The matte white tile is from DalTile.

This week: more flooring, kitchen counters, and hopefully kitchen appliances - please keep fingers crossed that we are not having barbecue for Christmas dinner!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A birthday among the rubble

Last week Fin celebrated his 7th birthday - he bounded into our room at 6:45 shouting "I'm seven, I'm seven"!

Celebrations took place in our building-site of a living room - but enthusiasm was undimmed. The drywall texture was being applied and it was very dusty so we curtained off all doorways with plastic. The fridge looks rather ghostly behind it's plastic sheet.

He chose chocolate cake with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting... it was very chocolaty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

House Update: beginning of week seventeen

Things are moving really fast on the house now - we actually have doors! The door and window trim is being installed which is really giving the house a finished look.

Nigel and I have also decided to do some painting to save some money (we are at that point in the project when the money is running out faster than the project!).

Last weekend we primed and painted our dining room (Restoration Hardware Silver Sage - the colour it was previously) and new kitchen (Benjamin Moore Mellowed Ivory - interesting since it's actually green not ivory at all). I also assmbled the new IKEA cabinets.
The kitchen was ready for the cabinets to be installed on Monday so the counter top installation people could come on Tuesday and make a template.

It's odd to be choosing colours rather than talking about structure. When we bought this house 10 years ago we did all the painting in an empty house, we were quite nostalgic to be doing it again although 10 years ago we didn't have to stop to look after any children!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the Needles: Heather Hoodie Vest

I'm knitting the Heather Hoodie Vest from Knitscene Fall 2009. It's not a magazine that I usually read, but I saw this vest on Ravelry and thought it would be perfect both for my wardrobe and to use some stash wool.

I'm knitting this in Targee Aran weight from Sweet Grass Wool, that I bought at Stitches earlier this year. The Targee feels like a handspun and smells pleasantly and slightly sheepy. It has great stitch definition in the cables.
The actual knitting was really quick (hooray for aran wool on 4mm needles) but I now need to press the edges to pick up the ribbed edges for the sleeves and button band. Of course what I don't currently have is anywhere to press or block this sweater so it will need to wait until the house is further along in it's construction.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Off the needles: Chirimen Sweater

I finished my Noro Chirimen sweater and have already worn it several times. The addition of silk to the cotton gives the sweater a nice drape, and also some warmth.

The pattern is a Jenny Watson design from the Noro Flowers book. Lovely book with a lot of things that I would like to knit - but amazingly there are apparently only 2 people (including me) knitting this pattern on Ravelry.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thanksgiving in the sun

We made our now-becoming- traditional Thanksgiving trip to Disneyland this year. We spent one day in the park - but as the boys are becoming older it was a longer day this year. As usual the crowds were light early on (8am when the park opened), getting busier through the day.

By lunchtime we had been on all the rides we wanted, including, at Adam's request a mother-son ride on Splash Mountain which resulted in my getting soaked to the skin. However the 85 degree temperature helped dry me out.

Of course Disney is in full Christmas mode and we got to see Santa and his herd of sweating reindeer. The boys got a chance to meet Santa and explain their comprehensive lists of things that they want.

We attended the parade of course - I love the juxtaposition of fake snow and sleighs against the beautiful blue of a SoCal November sky!

Finally - this photo for Ned at the request of Adam:

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.

Friday, December 04, 2009

House update: Week sixteen

Work on the house is progressing - this week has seen the drywall go on as well as most of the taping and texture. It's really starting to seem like a real house and is snug and warm inside now which helps as the temperature here is starting to drop.
This photo shows looking into the kitchen, the half wall around the loft is now covered, with the balcony waiting for railings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cakes and scouts

The cubs have an annual cake auction fundraiser. Each cub decorates his own cake and the other scouts vote for them. This year, as we have no kitchen, my friend Thuy invited us to her house to decorate the cakes with her and Jody.
The boys had very definite ideas of what their cakes would look like: Jody's park cake is on the front of the island above. Adam decided on a skate park theme:
while Fin decided that a giant eyeball would fit the bill perfectly.
I am glad we didn't have to eat our own cakes this year!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

House update - week fourteen

Progress has been made both inside and outside. The house passed it's major pre-sheetrock inspection without any major issues. The rough work is all done and sheetrock is about to start.

Outside the painting is done and the whole house looks like it's new.

The colour is Sierra White - which is a slightly greyish white. We
decided to stick with the cottagey look of the all-white house.

Monday, November 16, 2009

House update: week thirteen

I had to count how many weeks our house project has been going on, it's hard to believe that it's already week thirteen, but so much has happened and it all seems to have been happening so fast. Today there is no one working on the house (they left at lunchtime) and its the first weekday since the project started that we have not had workers here.

The outside is essentially finished and we are waiting for the painter to start - to try to get some protection on the walls before the worst of the winter weather starts (hard to believe that it's actually winter looking at this lovely blue sky I know).

This photo shows the back of the house with the new french windows onto the garden. The little deck/step is built and we are already planning our landscaping. All the windows are installed, rough-in plumbing, electric, and HVAC are complete. We are waiting on some final concrete work before drywall starts.

The inside looks a little different: the shear walls are all done, and most of the internal framing. This view shows the breakfast bar and the half-wall around the mezzanine framed out. The water heater has gone from the kitchen into it's final location in the roof.

In the foreground are the kitchen cabinets, and appliances. To save some money (and because I still like the kitchen cabinets) we removed our existing kitchen, but are planning to put them back once the kitchen is done. They all had to be removed to accomodate the plumbing/electric, but also to allow the floor to be taken up to access the old foundations for some more concrete reinforcement.

I think we are getting to the part of the project where there are a lot of dependencies, and more subcontractors involved (drywall, insulation, painting, flooring etc). I'm hoping that we can keep the timeline on track which would mean we are done by Christmas, but there is so much that could happen before then, that I'm trying not to get too focussed on the date!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tiny Shoes

I learned last week that one of our contractors had a baby since our project started (she is now 8 weeks old!). So naturally, I had to do some baby knitting.

These are Ysolda's Tiny Shoes knitted in Baby Cashmerino. A really nice easy pattern which took about 2 hours knitting with very little finishing required.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Last week we took the boys out of school for a short mid-term break. (It was conference week so we missed only about 6 hours of school). We flew to Las Vegas thanks to Southwest Airlines cheap flights, rented a car, and drove to Zion National Park.

We arrived late in the evening, and when we awoke were greeted by the fabulous red rocks of Zion.

We had no plans except to relax and spend time outside. The weather cooperated with 80 degree temperatures and beautiful blue skies. We hiked up to the Emerald Pools on the first day, amazingly without a word of complaint from the boys, maybe because there was plenty of opportunity for climbing and messing about.

Finlay tested whether the red rocks really did make red mud....they do!

In the afternoon we visited Grafton, a ghost town close to the park. The town was the setting for some of the scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and comes complete with an old cemetary. The boys were particularly interested to see how many children died young. The town was abandoned at the turn of the century but not until they had built a nice school house. The boys remarked how similar the school house was to the one we visited in Columbia.

Our second day we spent on the valley floor, walking along the riverside trail, and messing about in the water.

We also found some big rocks to climb...

It was a beautiful time to visit the park, not only did we get the lovely effect of late sunshine on the rocks, but we also got to see the colours of the 'quaking' aspens in the valley floor.

We had a lovely rejuvenating break which felt like a much longer vacation.

Monday, November 02, 2009

What's cooking in the kitchen?

Last week we also lost our kitchen - which now looks like this:

Long-time-reader (and Sister) Gill asked "what are you doing to cook without the kitchen?" and so I can share our new kitchen arrangement:

We have our fridge and microwave, and of course the kettle. We can use the toaster too, but not at the same time as any other appliance since these are all running off one outlet.

Beyond the plastic wall framing is going on for the new wall and it's odd to be eating our breakfast while the team are working inches away from us. However, it's still exciting to see the new house taking shape - here I am standing in what will be my pantry, and just the prospect of having a pantry at all is great...even if it's just bare studs at the moment.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

House update - week ten

We finally got a new roof this week and it really transforms the house.
We chose a GAF 50 year roofing shingle in the Birchwood colour. We hope that the light colour will reflect light and result in a cooler house. We had also read verious articles indicating that dark roofs contribute to global warming and while this roof is not white, it's the lightest generally available shingle we could find. There are some specific light-reflecting roof shingles on the market, but our roofing contractor told us that they were in such demand that he would not be able to get them before the end of the year.
The plywood cladding and roofing shingles are delived to the roof by this conveyer on the back of the delivery truck which is quite impressive to watch.
Side note: just after taking this photo I fell into a hole in the garden, one of the perils of living in a building site. Fortunately nothing but my dignity was injured!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

The boys managed to spin Halloween celebrations out over several events:

First up - the school parade and party on Friday featuring Harry Potter;

and Ron Weasely;

As a reward for a great win last week Adam's soccer team played in full team colours on Saturday; This is cleat inspection before the game, Adam facing forward in front:

Adam playing here in number 9 - sadly they did not win despite their fearsome appearance.

Finally on Saturday night we got invited to 2 halloween parties, and went trick-or-treating around the neighbourhood. They were so pleased that I dressed up too (I'm supposed to be Mollie Weasely).

Adam filled his candy bucket and was reduced to saying "Trick or Treat!, but actually I don't want any candy". As usual we transacted the candy-for-lego exchange!