Sunday, September 29, 2013

End of a Four Day Weekend

76 degrees with sprinkles.  Another beautiful day with several bugs but they were not biting much.

Today I ended my four consecutive days off from work (my day job) and I have made much progress toward insulating and hanging drywall on the inside.  Several years ago I hired a drywall contractor to do my den in the main house after I demoed all of the panelling and framed a new wall around the fireplace to give room above for a flat panel television.  I did the insulation during the den project and the contractor hung the drywall and taped and mudded the entire room in just one day.  He came back a couple days later to finish the sanding and the final coat of mud and it looks great.

Here is a look at the upstairs before the work began.

I vacuumed the upstairs before starting. 
The rafters are going to be left exposed.
I'm going to give this a try on the playhouse and do all of the taping and mudding myself, which I may regret later because I know that the pros make an art of it.  I have been reading articles and watching YouTube videos on the subject and will hope for the best.

Over the last couple days I completed the downstairs and have started to work on the upstairs.  I installed the insulation into the bays on the short long walls and was able to build up temporary scaffolding over the opening above the door as I work on that end wall.  The most difficult part of the project is now done, which was to insulate and cut the drywall pieces that go under the ridge beam at either end of the second floor.  They are triangular in shape and I wasted one entire sheet of drywall when I cut the angle incorrectly on my first attempt.  The next two cuts worked well and I now have the top ends done on both walls.

The insulation is installed along the low walls. 
The triangular drywall piece installed above the window in the upstairs room. 
I had to build this scaffolding to give me a place to stand and use a ladder next to the tall wall.  This is above the entrance. 
The second difficult triangle is now installed.  The rest should be easier.
That is about it for now.  I'm signed up to drive four kids in the neighborhood to school in the morning and plan to work several days until I can find time to work on the playhouse.

More later.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Part II - Within

72 degrees - beautiful day with dry weather and puffy clouds.  No mosquitoes around these parts today.

I'm back.  It has been well over a year and much has gone on here at the Pointed Playhouse (and in our lives) to include a burglary, national healthcare, Gustavo was killed (ref. Breaking Bad) and the playhouse won a This Old House award for 2012 best yard remodel (and best outbuilding).  

This Old House article:,,20598285_21164961,00.html

Embarrassing video:,,20597364,00.html

As I sit hear drinking my beer after 8 PM I'm wondering why I'm writing again in this blog.  I was hoping to write a nicely worded ending for my two daughters to let them hear my thoughts on why I built the playhouse for them and possibly some other life lessons.  I never got around to that or maybe I really don't know what to say or feel that the playhouse was such a large project that I could not simply end with a few words in a blog.  I'll never know.

What I do know is that I got tired of looking at the exposed framing on the inside and both my daughter said that they would like to use the playhouse if I only got rid of the spiders.  Truth be told, they never really got to enjoy the playhouse because we are too busy and it is simply not finished.

About a week ago I installed central heating and air conditioning (window unit installed centrally in a wall) to give us more time in the year to enjoy the space.

The heat / air conditioning unit sits under the roof.
The face of the unit as it sits just upstairs and able to cover both rooms.
I also added a sub-panel and many switches and outlets several months ago.
I then insulated the downstairs but still have the upstairs to do later this weekend.

Rolls waiting upstairs.
Great invention - the staple hammer.  Used on the roof and now inside.
Tucking the wires between the layers of insulation.
Cutting the insulation at 93 inches for each bay.
Using a 2x4 as a strait edge.  I then use a utility knife to cut the paper and glass fiber.
One wall started, many more to go.
I then decided to try to install the drywall on the ceiling and then walls in the downstairs room.  It was too difficult for me to do this by myself so I enlisted the help of Elizabeth.

Even though this is only 1/2 inch drywall it was very heavy.  Notice the wires that I have for the pot lights?
Second sheet installed.  not sure what the nailing schedule is here in Virginia.
Can't wait to tape and mud.
I then hung the sheets on the walls, which was very heavy but I was able to handle it on my own this time.  It helps to start screws in the sheet and then mark all of the switch and outlet boxes on the floor.  I measured up to the box and wrote the height on the floor so that I know where to start routing around the box.

First sheet on the wall going up.
It feels like a smaller space.
Wrote 20 on the floor to note the height of the center of the box.
The box with power and cable TV up in the corner.
Routing around the box.
And this is what the downstairs looks like after two days of work.
And I almost forgot to mention that Home Depot was very easy to work with again.  They pulled all of my material and delivered it to the house.

I'm not going to let them drive up on my grass this time.
Lots to do - insulation, drywall, mud, tape, window trim, baseboards, crown molding and flooring.
I guess that's it for now.  I have a total of four days to work on the project and I'm half way through and I don't feel like I need to take an Ibuprofen at this time, but that might be the Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA talking.

More later this weekend, I'm sure.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Erbs for Sale

84 degrees - severe lightning storm and winds up to 50 mph.  Mosquitoes flying by so fast you cannot see them.

On my way home from work on Friday I picked up several containers of herbs from the home center with a plan to sell them the following morning during our community garage sale.  The driveway still has a mountain of mulch so I told the girls that we would use the Pointed Playhouse as a place to sell things that we no longer need along with some plants that we can separate out into their own biodegradable pots.  Elizabeth did a great job tying a piece of twine in a bow around the herbs and I think they looked nice.  Lauren stayed up late with me standing on the brick in front of the playhouse while putting the herbs into their new homes.  We fortunately had the bright light of a Coleman lantern so that we could see.

Herbs that survived the storm did not all survive the sale the next morning.
There was a little lightening coming from the west that we could see in the distance but I had no idea just how bad the storm was about to get.  We finished just in time and as we got into bed the full fury of the storm hit our neighborhood.  It seemed like lightening would strike every few seconds and we could hear the crash of branches coming down from the trees.  The tops of the trees whipped around and seemed to almost touch the ground.  I watched the large pine tree sway violently over the roof but it held and I know that the playhouse would be no match for a tree that size if it were to give up.

We woke early and I checked on the herbs that I had fortunately placed in a wheelbarrow and rolled under the large sheet of plywood that sat on saw horses and was used as a table the night before.  The plants were fine but the yard was a disaster - limbs, twigs and leaves scattered everywhere and later in the day we noticed a small bird that must have been blown down from a nest during the wind.  I spent a considerable amount of time picking up what I could but knew that another storm was due to hit the area later today.  One of the gates that I built a few years ago on the other side of the house is now missing its lower half, which was probably the result of being beaten up like a loose shutter during the storm.

I recently read or heard somewhere that everyone should work retail at least once during their life and that selling something is an important lesson.  The girls sold mint-lime-aide for a quarter and also helped some friends sell a few of their things in the process.  They were the ones who showed us the area about seven years ago, subsequently lived a half a block away and now are in the process of moving up to Boston.

Here are a few pictures from the day.

Removing leaves from the storm off the makeshift table.
Cinco de Mayo in the German playhouse.
Ready to part with part of their childhood.
They started at $2.50 but were quickly reduced to $1.50 due to the recession.
Everyone liked making signs.
Hot cakes!  Get your hot cakes!
Flying the fish to attract customers.
This is how we spell pepper.
The basil was a hot seller.
Had to take a picture of this peony that decided to bloom during the storm.
Many people stopped by and had questions about the playhouse and the girls had fun giving the tour.  I don't think that we made enough money to pay for a dinner out but everyone had a good time and we now have a little more space in our home to buy new things.  I think it is time for a beer.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pointed Playhouse and Garden

71 degrees, dry and sunny.  The smell of mosquito spray is in the air.

Over the past week and a half we have had cold weather, rain, high winds and warm sunny weather.  Much work was done putting in the garden with help from my daughters and I was also very fortunate to have my brother Peter fly out and help put together the interior and even spread some mulch.

The nursery said that I should be careful what I wish for when planting wisteria but I decided to give it a try on the far, lower corner that will hopefully hide some of the pump station that sits next to the Pointed Playhouse.  I might have to move it later if it gets out of control.  I ordered ten yards of mulch and six of compost and have continued to expand the beds a little on the lower, west side of the house and also on the other side of the bricked in area on the east side.  The compost is all in and about half the mulch still sits on the driveway covered with a blue tarp (I have great neighbors that have not complained thus far).  Some of the other plants are hosta, columbine, hydrangea and forget-me-nots, egg plant and two types of squash and more that I cannot remember at this time. 

Some of the plants are in the expanded beds before the mulch went in.
In goes the egg plant.
Planting the yellow squash.

Found a toad in the corner.
I had to run into the office for a meeting during one day this week and Peter offered to spread a little mulch.  I thought that it was going to require about five or ten wheel barrows of mulch but when I came back he said that he counted about twenty five.  A great workout!

Mulch keeps the water in the soil, the weeds down and builds muscle.
About three inches gets the ground covered.
Found another frog on the east side.
Peter said that this plant (right) is poisonous.
An old piece of carpet that we had from when we had the office carpeted several years ago went up in the loft area.  A German baby crib that is made from pine and well over a hundred years old also went up in the loft to act as a temporary railing until I get the time to put in an actual railing that will attach to the loft floor.  I've decided that the aluminum ladder will also need to be replaced with a wood ladder and I'm thinking that I will build bookshelves on the left as you enter through the doors and incorporate the ladder to make it look a little like shelving that can be climbed to get to the loft.  I could also create a raised area for the electric wood stove, which provides a little heat, into the bookshelf system.  A lamp, table and two bean bags give the girls enough to get some reading done.  An old thatched roof doll house that I built for the girls sits on the floor.

Relaxing with the spiders.
My favorite project this week was the refinishing of the kitchen cabinets.  We sanded, primed and painted the boxes and made a breakfast bar out of the smaller of the two cabinets that my neighbor gave to me.  Turned feet were attached to the underside and Peter came up with a scallop design that went around the top edge and even a small strip went above the small kitchen window.  The color for the cabinets was premixed in a quart can that I had stored in the garage and might have been used to test a color before we bought a full gallon.  It is a light sage color but darker than what went up on the outside of the playhouse.  I added a little bit of green to this paint in another cup for the scallop trim.  The two paint colors go well together.  The counter tops were made from large solid pine boards made from smaller pine pieced that have been finger jointed on the ends where we could not see them.  The eight foot piece against the back wall is beautiful and made from two boards that we glued together using biscuits and has wood knots running throughout.  The stain on the wood counter tops is called Ipswitch Pine.  A small facing edge was added to the larger counter and we used the palm router to round over the top edge.  After we added a small back splash made from the same material it all came together and I'm very pleased with our work.

Master craftsman Peter "Norm" Trepp
Is that a fridge?  Gosh, if we only knew what we could put  inside.
As you can see from the above picture the back wall appears to have rough cut pine boards installed vertically.  Well, sort of.  It is actually the very real looking paneling that we found at the home center for only $15 per sheet.  We also picked up some lighting that was strung across a beam over the breakfast bar and put the print of the original Pointed House in a frame that is now hung on the back wall.  A couple stools and cut evergreens to go in our Irish tap (thanks Nanna) in the corner and it all really came together.

A mat to keep the girls feet clean before they walk on the Qashqai kilim.
Small inexpensive lantern hangs outside.
Scallop detail, cabinet boxes and even the door hardware has been painted.
Small bird paintings that the girls have done hang on the wall.

It was a fun but tiring week.  I'm very appreciative of my brother for taking the time away from his family and flying all this way from the west coast.  I drove him back to the airport at noon and the girls soon had ballet rehearsal and I was left alone to carve up some cheese and sit in my chair and think about our accomplishments. 

It started to get cold again and so it was time to lock things up and get some rest.  I'll write a little more when more happens.