oakland_goatsMeet Oakland’s crack fire prevention team.

We had these little guys on weed abatement duty all around the public lands near our house last month. The goat herders simply fence off an area for the goats to focus on, give it a few days, and then move on. The herders live in a little trailer that we have seen parked around the public lands.

I’m not ready for the big reveal on our stair cabinet, but here is a little peek.

With the stair cabinet project, I feel we are possibly getting over the “hump” with our house projects. Of course, things will never be done, there will always be something to improve. But I am starting to feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel as far as making our living spaces (aside from the bathrooms) look nice. After the little vacation, even painting the upstairs myself seems doable.

And wow, those smooth matte walls, what an incredible difference! Hard to see in photographs, but in person it is looking so great~


We managed to escape to the coast for a week, and I was able to unplug for a few days. This week it’s back to catching up on my favorite blogs and internet cats and such. On our trip the weather was a bit temperamental, as it can be in Northern California, but it was so lovely to get away even on the days that our only option was playing Monopoly inside.

Back on the home front, the walls have been smoothed out. When we arrived home a week ago, we immediately had to start taking care of the dust that was left over from the process. We spent all weekend managing it, and had it under control within a few days.

We did not manage to finish the stair cabinet before our trip, and were only able to have the painters work on the seam to the back. We’re hoping to have the project wrapped up by next weekend. The painters will have to come back to finish the drywall there. Our guy is really busy though, I’m not sure how long it will take to get his team lined up again. We may need to seek out someone new. Which will be tough because I’m super picky about painters.

Next time, back to more home related pictures– I promise!

I feel the desperate need to unplug right now. It’s been a chaotic month or so: work gearing up, both boys sick off and on and the frenzy of the school year coming to an end. Oh, and this home project deadline looming in front of us. Thursday is my oldest’s last day of Kindergarten, and weather permitting, I’m hoping to take Friday off to take the boys to the beach. And Saturday, it’s back to the mines on this cabinet project.

Speaking of which, have you heard the story about the Fisherman and the Businessman? Sometimes I wish it were that easy, if I could just find that beach and catch enough fish.

Project stair cabinet is going into high gear. We have just two more weekends before the painters will be here to finish smoothing out the upstairs and hallway.

We have the four cabinets installed along the platform. What’s left is adding the plywood, drywall, wood cladding, countertop and doors. That’s actually quite a bit of work! But between Erich and I’m pretty sure we can handle it.

Yes, last week I was in a bit of a panic about finishing the wood for the cladding and decided to seek out professional help. Then I came to my senses and realized that would cut into our tight budget that we had alloted for other things. Like a new front door, lighting, and oh, a million other things. So we’re going to take a stab at it ourselves. I’ve looked at a number of tutorials online, so I think I’m up for the challenge. Erich will rough it in and I will do the finish work. This is pretty much our role in these DIY projects.

The upstairs is starting to come together. It’s a rather awkward layout, but I’ve finally figured out a good way to lay out the room, creating some functional zones in the open space. And, I am beyond the moon excited about having the walls finished! That means we can actually start painting and getting to work! (And there will be a lot of it, including all new baseboards and door trim.) I think we are hoping to at least have the upstairs/great room area done so we can have a housewarming party. It’s the logical starting off point, it is the introduction to the house, and probably where we spend the most time.

Here are our goals for the weekend:
—Buy and install plywood
—Purchase additional Ikea parts (hang rail for back of cabinets and doors)
—Buy wood for cladding (install next weekend?)
—Procure countertop material
—Obtain drywall (and possibly install)

UPDATE: We nearly completed our entire list. Not bad!

We ended up making a big revision on the cladding when we discovered that procuring the wider width plank for the cladding was easier said than done (we needed 13″ and 14″ widths). Based on our deadline we decided to go with a veneered Maple plywood, which was available at our local hardwood supplier in 4×10 sheets. There just wasn’t anything available in our humble pricepoint for our 8.5′ countertops. We did find one piece of hardwood for $600 that was both wide and long enough, but it was also too thick a piece of wood for us to use.

It’s rustic, but I actually do like the look of veneered plywood. There was a great home tour on Design*Sponge last week that had some nicely done plywood shelving, as an example. I may also explore having a cabinet maker put caps to cover the plywood for a more traditional look, but we’ll see how I feel about it as we assemble it next weekend.

Are you old enough to remember those summer days, back when kids could roam around all day to explore until the sun went down? Do you remember the sound of summer crickets, the rustling of leaves, the dry grass smell? Would you believe that, at least those last three things, haven’t really changed a bit?

Today and yesterday I took my boys out to explore one of the trails near our house, and my summer memories came right back. The scent of wild sage, fennel and bay laurel took me back to childhood walks at the California coast. The smell of hot dust and dry grass reminded me of summers spent in Colorado. It’s the scent that seems bring you back more than anything, isn’t it?

Today on the trail, I pointed out wild strawberries and wild lettuce. I demonstrated how rattlesnake grass makes a little sound when you shake it, and showed my boys where the deer had worn a path through the grasses. My sons picked up long sticks by the trailhead and used them to draw lines in the dirt as they walked. They stopped to look down little holes in the earth. We found a hallowed out tree, a gopher snake and heard wild turkeys gobble somewhere in the distance. We heard tall trees creak, like a squeaky old door, have you ever heard that before? I had no idea.

My little cactus bloomed yesterday for the first time. This diminutive guy somehow was able to put out three large and magnificent blooms on its tiny body.

I try to keep things upbeat here, but have you ever experienced those times when you are feeling down and are in desperate need of a little shot of optimism? I was feeling that hard on Monday. I went to bed that night drained and tired–feeling the weight of the world. The next morning, however, I awoke to sunshine and this beautiful little flower show. Call me silly, but somehow a bunch of bright yellow blooms on a prickly plant seemed like a sign of good things to come.

Nicely played, mother nature. Nicely played.

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