Sunday, September 29, 2013

We are making painfully slow progress here at home. This year I will need no Halloween decoration, I mean, who needs it for when you have a house in construction?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This magnificent cottonwood tree is in the process of being cut down. I am absolutely heart broken but there's no other solution. Last year we spent close to $1000 bucks on a famous arborist, or at least a arborist working for famous people ( this was a fact we found out during the inspection), hoping that he'd have some good solution for our tree, all he said was that a tree this close to a house needs to be taken down.  The main trunk was an inch away from the wall when we moved in, now it is firmly pressing against our wall.  Our current insurance company will no longer insure us, we are hoping this won't be a issue for the new insurance company, but then the electrical company requires a clearance where the tree is for our meter. Anyway, the tree is going down. Once the schedule was set to cut down the tree, I left and didn't stay to see it happen. It is just too upsetting to watch. I am officially one less good tree. This sucks!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A long and messy post...

I think now is a good time to show some progress photo of our house. 

The first step to rebuild our fireplace is demolition. We had two build-in cabinets on either side of the house, those were taken down and a carpenter is rebuilding a new one in his workshop. After crown moulding and baseboards were removed, and walls and flooring covered up, the workers then proceed to take down all the bricks in the fireplace.

There were a lot of bricks. They were cleaned up and stored in our backyard. We are not reusing the old bricks again even though I debated about whether or not to put them back. Perhaps one day I will use them in the garden.

Fireplaces in older houses tend to have poor foundation, to add better support, the engineer ordered to dig a two feet deep hole in the ground. Framing was then added, and we waited for city inspection after that.

I'm learning that for a housing construction like this, your city inspector can be your best friend. You never know what the contractor are doing or whether they followed the engineer's plan correctly. We learned that keeping up communication with city inspector is very important.

After a slow week waiting for inspection to happen and a crazy week rescuing chihuahuas, the masonry company came in and filled the dug out space with cement and rebar. This is why we decided to stay with cinder blocks. The rebar can easily go through the middle of the cinder blocks.

The brick layer took his time and carefully rebuilt the fireplace. Making sure everything is perfectly leveled.

This is the finished product. Looks huge! It looked very duty in the picture because the next step of demolition was already taking place.

When we started the demolition, part of roof along had to be taken down. When the fireplace was completed, the roof had to be further removed before framers came in and do their job.

This was the pile of roof that was removed to prepare for the framers' work after fireplace was completed. We had nice cedar wood on top of the house, soon as I discover that, I asked the contractor to replace with the same type of wood. On top of the cedar was five or six layers of old roofing. The previous owners never removed old roofing!

Here is a picture of the big gaping hole on our roof, temporarily covered up!

The framers started working yesterday.

A view of the back of fireplace. This was our closet, as you can see.

A closet up view of the new added frame. You can see our second floor from here, I'm enjoying the "openness" of the room. 

A view of downstairs from second floor. 

In sum, we are making progress. Rebuilding or reconstruction is a painful process as I've come to learn.  We are getting a few other things done around the house as well, but I'm saving that for another post! All in all this has been a busy and stressful time. I'm keeping fingers crossed that when we are done things will look a whole lot better.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Chandeliers anyone? I am  loving these colorful Schonbek chandeliers from The Rose collection. They are simply amazing! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

I had to post this picture of Fie Fie because he was too cute, now, let's get down to business and talk about home stuff.

I have been kind of having some good and bad luck when it comes to vintage sinks lately.

This beauty was discovered at my neighbor's front yard.  I didn't know the guy at the time, but had seem him painstakingly restoring the exterior of his old house one inch at a time. I saw this sink by his side yard a couple of times guessing that he must be planning to put it into his kitchen.  A couple of days later I was walking my dogs and I saw the sink again. Somehow I decided to ask him about it anyway, and turned out, he wasn't planning to use it, he was going to sell it. 

I pretty much decided on the spot that I wanted it. I've seen a lot of restored old houses in my neighborhood had ones like this, I'd been looking online but the price and shipping was discouraging, and the size woud not fit my rather small kitchen.

Later that day, my husband and I hauled the huge thing to our home. It's going in my stash of junk that's going to go in my "new" kitchen one day. 

The sink cleaned out quite nicely. The original porcelain was in near perfect condition with all but one little chip at the right corner. I couldn't be happier. When we get to remodel our kitchen, this will fit right in.

Since our house is being gutted because of a house fire we had last year, my husband and I had been counting coins and see what kind of remodel we could afford to do. It turned out, not much. To put tiles in our tiny 3 by 8 guest bathroom would cost thousands of dollars. So to break up the cost, I decided to do half a bath at a time like the fixtures and lighting, and wait til I perfected my tile laying skill so I could do the job myself. This got me started looking for a kitchen sink, you know, THE one sink that you dream about that the whole remodeling of the bathroom  evolves around? And just my luck, this beauty popped up on craiglist like no one's business, at the perfect timing, and at a price only about 5 times cheaper for the same sink a dealer sells. Albeit I had to drive three hours to get it, it was totally worth it. The condition was not as good as my kitchen sink, it has been reglazed, and will need to be touched up again before I put it in, but I was ecstatic! 

A few days later I announced proudly to my contractor that I shall begin renovating half of my tiny bath. They took out their tape measure and had a look, and of course, it was too big. The sink blocks half of my tiny bathroom door way so that a normal sized human being could not squeeze through it. I had neglected to measuring the sink, of course. No worries, I've got two more bathroom, I will fit it in somewhere, somehow.

Comes sink number three, if I still want my half bathroom remodel to happen.

This was my sink number three, the fairest of them all. The porcelain in the overflow drain area had completely rotted out, so was the porcelain around the drain. I was kind of disappointed at first that the pedestal it came with didn't match the sink. It was not cast iron like the top, so it's a new piece. After a little research I discovered that this is called a wall hung sink. It's got butterfly wing shaped hook in the back so you can hook it up to the wall. It was yellow everywhere. It had been sitting at a junk store's outdoor area for months and months. The seller was aiming to repurpose it as a planter. A month ago I asked about it while at the store, but was mistakenly told by a store employee that it was sold. Last week I discovered that the sink was not only still there, but was on sale for $100. This time even a nut like me hesitated. I mean, there's gotta be a good reason that no one grabbed this guy for such a long time.

Eventually, the crazy side of me prevailed, and I bought the sink. Cleaning it up required some serious stuff, like muriatic acid, which the hardware store employee highly warned me not to use because it could be hazardous when mishandled.  I got phosphorus instead. 

Don't let the improvement fool you. The sink is no where near being usable. I have to have a plumber check out the sink making sure it will work properly, then have it reglazed or painted, install new faucet, before it can be put in the bathroom.  In a year or two if I'm lucky enough to find a business that would re-porcelain the whole thing, I would then just do it and make it completely like new again. 

All this hassel really has not discouraged me, I'm continuing my quest to find a porcelain coating business that can do cast iron sinks.  It's all worth the effort, I mean, look at the beautiful line and figure of these old sinks. There's something in its timeless beauty that modern sink cannot compete. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Music room

My second revision at the music room. Don't let all this zen fool you, dealing with contractors all day long is making me wanting to pull my hair out. 


Still working away on my bedroom ideas...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My husband and I have been thinking about getting a few things done here and there while the house is in construction. It got me started obsessing over pretty much every little detail of planning, and now it's just about time that the ideas have been "cooked" long enough in my mind to put together some idea boards to see if they are feasible. 

Music room

Music Room

A lot of furniture pieces we purchased two years ago now seemed unfit for the house. Our dining table was too big for the dining room, the long benches constantly give me back ache, bed was too small in the bedroom, and there are also many pieces like IKEA shelves that clutter up the space.  It's easier to re-imagine how we could furnish the house better when things are moved out and the rooms are empty. 

guest bathroom

Guest Bathroom

Initially I made plans to completely redo the guest bathroom, but I'm running into problems left and right with this bathroom. To begin with, the antique cast iron sink I purchased not too long ago was actually too deep for my tiny guest bath, and half of it shows through the door way. To purchase a smaller cast iron sink is possible, but I am having hell of a difficult time finding a company that would re-porcelain the sink to perfect condition.

It's been a bit of a fixation for me to want to put a vintage cast iron sink in my house. I just think it adds so much character and style for the house. Problem is, there are no place I know of that can actually re-porcelain a cast iron sink in California. There are places that could do it, but they are in the East coast. It's a process different than just your typical guy "reglazing," aka "repaint" your bathtub in your home. Reglazing is not a good solution for heavily used sinks and tubs, as paint chip every few months of so. This, of course, I learned after purchasing my bathroom sink.

The best way to go is re-porcelain the sink completely. It was the way these sinks were made back then and it will last you another life time if taken care of properly.  So far there is one company in Corona that is planning to start a operation on this. The owner told me I will need to wait three more months while he sets things up. Until then, everything is still up in the air.  So what do I do in the mean time? I could put in the lighting fixture, fix the fan in the bathroom, and place a medicine cabinet on the wall ( which requires moving a section of water pipe behind the wall, headache!) and just wait on the tiles and sink!

Dining Room

Dining Room

My taste for furniture has changed over time. Sometimes it's not that my has taste changed, it's just that I didn't know what my taste was.  This time for the dining room, I wanted to go for a clean cut French look, without bordering on shabby chic.  I'm still loving the crystal chandelier that I put into the dining room when we moved in, everything else needs to go. Fingers crossed that I can get rid of the old furnishings without too much trouble!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I bought this birdhouse months and months ago at my local nursery, but at the time I didn't have anyone that could put a post in the ground for me, so the project was just sitting in the garage. With construction workers at my house everyday, I now had people dug a hole in my front yard and pour cement with the post in it. I spent half a day painted the birdhouse over. 

I like the end result. It's definitely one of my more successful home projects.

I had been working on finding chihuahuas new home or a rescue group. After much effort, we started talking with a couple of rescue groups, one of them could take them. The pups are just getting used to my home, now they had to be moved again. It was very hard to let them go. Thursday night I packed all their things, beds, blankets, clothes, treats, toys and food into a large bag and packet into the car. I was determined to take them back if the foster home didn't look good. The pups thought they were out for a walk, until they got in the car and we started driving, they knew something was up.

The foster mom lived in a cozy beautiful vintage house at a nice neighborhood, it was a relief to see her with doggie fence at the front door, and a large backyard. She also had four other small dogs, some rescue and some her own. It took a long time for me to leave once I got there. Charlotte clung to me and looked so sad and I cried too. I think it was the right thing to do though, foster mom is so much better than me at training them to become better candidates for adoption, and she can socialize them better because she has so much experience and knowledge.

Since then I've been getting constant puppy updates from the foster mom along with pictures.  I'm also allowed to visit them if I want. You just know a dog loving person when you see one, on top of it all, I just could not believe there are people out there who are so generous and kind.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shortly after Bobby died, I was constantly going to animal shelters looking for another exact "copy" of Bobby. I was hell bent on finding the exact same dog. I was looking not just for dogs, but poodles mixes, that are black, male, and with short ears and handsome faces. There was this beautiful pit bull puppy with amazing eyes and a colorful stripy sweater on that reached out to me crying desperately, and a chihuahua that reached its paws trying to call me and grab my attention. I  refused to look at them. When I came back around later, the pit bull puppy was heart broken and sunk to way back of the cell and looked sick. I never saw the chihuahua again. Of course I never found another dog like Bobby, I was heart broken too, and with time I just accepted that he was gone for good. Life moves on you know? If you tell people that you were hopelessly in love with your dog like your own kid, they look at you mad like some degenerate that have nothing better to offer the world but to rot away like a pedophile.

I wonder if those puppies found families or was euthanized. From times to times I think about them and it was very hard to forget those images.

Right before this animal rescue fiasco happened, I would think to myself about volunteer to animal shelters or rescue groups, and how emotionally draining that would be. I was reluctant to take the first step, but it turned out, life gave me a push.

While it was easy to put off volunteering at animal shelters, you can't turn away from animals dying in front of your eyes.

I never thought I would like chihuahuas, but after one week living with them and having them turning my life into a living hell, I'm totally for chihuahuas. They are like the rock star of dogs, small like a mice, but big, I mean super big on personalities.

Call me crazy, but all the regrets that troubled me in the last year or two, rescuing these two chihuahuas was a second chance for me... to do my part. Everyone deserves a second chance right?

Monday, September 9, 2013

I've been emailing back and forward with a local rescue group that said they might be able to take them, late last night I suddenly got an email saying they will take them both, in a few days.  I will say that I'm not quite prepared for them to be taken away so soon, even though my sole objective has been trying to get them re homed ASAP.  I've learned more about chihuahuas over the past week more than I did in my whole life, and now I know that they are tiny dogs with REAL BIG personalities! 

Today I went out and got a few things for them, t-shirts, bedding, toys. I am feeling somewhat anxious, once the chihuahuas leave my hands, I really have little say in where or how they will end up. You kind of have to take a big leap of faith and just trust the people that take them over. After helping them through this terrible ordeal of being dumped at a parking lot, I really need to know that they are going to a good home.

Today we went to our local nursery to smell flowers and social with the friendly nursery employees. We also played kong toys and fetch balls, isn't it amazing that tiny dogs like these just seem to know how to play fetch?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dinner and a movie, not necessarily in that order. Weekends are nice now with my husband giving me a hand between five dogs and two houses. I'm glad I married someone with a big heart!

It's been burning hot here in Southern California, but I know summer is fleeting...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Crazy" doesn't nearly describe the state of my life right now. Besides the interior of my house looking like this,

I've also found two chihuahuas abandoned at a parking lot.

Here's an idea people, hey, I feel like dumping my pets in a broken crate, so I'm just going to go ahead to dump them at 3pm in the afternoon when it's about 100 degrees outside.

Between trying to coordinate with contractors, running between two houses, taking care of my own dogs, getting these chihuahuas back to normal, bathing, cleaning, buying some basic necessities like leashes, food bowl, and flea treatment, vet visit, constant clean up, and shooting out crazy amount of emails trying to get them adopted, my blog pretty much got pushed to the rock bottom of priorities.

To top things off, I took the chihuahuas to the vet yesterday to get an exam and vaccine shots, and after I put the chihuahuas inside the car, I accidentally locked myself out. After being told that to remotely unlock my car would take 48 hours and a road side assistant would take an hour to get here, a nice lady at the clinic used her AAA service and got the car unlocked. It was just in time before the pups baked into cookies. On our way home one chihuahua used my Mercedes as a puke bucket and threw up all over the back seat, but I didn't care, I was just too thrilled that they didn't cook inside the car while being locked in.

As of now I am still searching for families that would adopt them. From my experience, 90% of animal rescue does not even bother to email me back, while the remaining are mostly maxed out on their capacity. Seeing lots of stray animals' happy endings on facebook used to give me this delusion that there are always people out there to help them, but there aren't, at least far from enough. A look at a typical shelter in LA or Orange County, the number of euthanized animals by the shelters per year is staggering. It's just so frustrating because it is to me a purely human created problem out of irresponsible pet ownership and breeding.

Anyhow, discussing the broader issue does not help me a bit in placing them at a good home. If you happen to be reading this post and interested in the chihuahua puppies please feel free to contact me in the comment section!

Well, it certainly has been a while since I checked in here, but today feels like the right time to pick it up again!  Mostly I...