Thursday, February 13, 2014

Paws Awhile - Moving Home

Yesterday was sanding day for the sheetrock.  I wasn't exactly asked to leave, but if I had stayed, I would have been sealed in the bedroom with no heat while the sanding was going on. So I packed up a few things and left for the day.

First, I went to Starbucks. I ordered a large coffee. This was a mistake. See, I usually drink one cup of very weak coffee per day. Starbucks doesn't know how to make weak coffee. By the time I drank 1/4 of the cup, I had the shakes. On top of that, the only place I could find to sit was near the door which was almost constantly swinging open letting in folks for their morning coffee. So, between shaking from the caffeine and the cool breeze, I didn't get much done on my PC.

I decided to go to my friend Nancy's house. She wasn't there but she didn't mind if I spent the day there. I worked on doing income taxes for several hours and then decided I needed to get some exercise. I walked up Will Hardee to Sadler. I did a little shopping at Beal's. They were having a great sale - all of their discounted merchandise was another 50% off! It was almost like they were paying me to shop!  When I left Beal's it was raining so I ran next door to Barbaritos for a late lunch.  I really like Barbaritos!  They have a healthy chicken salad that reminds me of Willie's.

When I got back to Nancy's, I was tired of doing taxes so I watched some TV and did some knitting.  I have been working on the same baby blanket for 6 months.

I decided to order a pizza from Dominos & pick it up on my way back to Paws Awhile but when I tried to shut down my computer, it said, "Installing 1 of 14 updates...  do not unplug or turn off your computer". How annoying! So I left the computer while I picked up my pizza then went back to Nancy's to eat it while the computer finished its thing.

When I got back to the condo it was dark. The sanding looked like it was complete and almost all of the plywood flooring was down.

I slept at the condo. I got up early this morning and packed up to move back to Atlanta for awhile. I listened to a book on the way home and the 6 hour drive went quickly.

I'm glad to be home for a bit but I hate to miss out on the progress at the condo. I can't wait for it to be finished!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Paws Awhile - Mud and Plywood

It was cold at the beach today, but nothing to compare with what is forecasted to hit Atlanta tonight.  I considered trying to make it home, but ultimately decided that I am better off to wait it out here.

Today was all about the floor, the walls and the ceiling. Helper John worked on putting down the plywood in preparation for tiling. I learned that today was John's birthday so I went to Harvest Bread Company and got some cookies for Herb, John and I so we could have a little birthday celebration!

Herb worked on patching and mudding the sheetrock. I can't wait to see how it will look once it is sanded and painted!

My friends, the Withers, invited me out for dinner, which was a welcome change from the crackers and hummus I've been eating! We enjoyed a nice meal at the Surf and then they came back by to see the progress.

Tomorrow, I expect to spend the day somewhere else because I don't want to be here with all of the sheetrock dust.  Maybe I'll use that Starbuck's Gift Card I've been hoarding.  And then if I'm lucky, the Withers will have me over for that venison meatloaf they've been bragging about (hint, hint).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Paws Awhile - Weekend in Atlanta

My friend Lisa and her band would be playing at Howard's in Smyrna on Saturday.  I couldn't miss that, so I left the condo remodel in the very capable hands of Handyman Herb and headed for Atlanta.

I got a window seat on the plane so I had a good view of the Atlanta skyline and the other Delta Jet that was AWFULLY close!

Tony picked me up at the airport. I just had time to shower off the sheet-rock dust and we headed for Howard's. Lisa and the Rockaholics put on a great show. Lisa is celebrating her birthday this quarter.  That's right, I said QUARTER. She has one-upped my birth-month celebration.

We had home-owner stuff to catch up on in Smyrna. First, the shower was leaking. Tony had called a plumber and left a message but I didn't want to wait. I found a youtube video of a 9 year old girl repairing leaky shower faucet. I figured if she could do it, we could do it. I even made my own youtube video.

Next, we needed to go over to our Smyrna condo to check on the progress of the exterior painting.

Last, was yard work. I did some light trimming of the shrubbery in front of the house and then suggested to Tony that we clean up the nether-lands in the back yard. This was a huge job. After cutting a few limbs though, the chain-saw threw a blade. We had to leave the job half finished. We rewarded ourselves with dinner at Outback.

This morning, Tony dropped me at the airport for the first flight to Jacksonville. It was an exciting non-rev experience, waiting by the counter for my name to be called. I got a nice aisle seat!

When I drove up to Sand Dollar Villas, I saw the ceiling of the parking deck had a huge hole in it with water dripping out. At first I thought it was our unit but thankfully (for us) realized that it was the one next door.

When I got to Paws Awhile, nobody was here. Herb had told me that he had an outside job he needed to do if the weather was nice and it was very nice! The ceiling was still half covered in popcorn so I grabbed a chair and a scraper and finished the job.

I was covered in popcorn dust after the job.

I had made arrangements to meet Bob, the cabinet guy at 2:00PM. There was a bit of confusion about where we were going to meet. Bob was at Paws Awhile and I was at Bob's office. I headed back to the condo and we went over the cabinet order and re-measured everything. Bob will order the cabinets today and then it takes 4-6 weeks for them to be manufactured.

After Bob left, I grabbed a chair and a book and headed for the beach. It is a good week to be here, especially with the threat of winter storms in Atlanta again.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Paws Awhile - Get While the Getting is Good!

Handyman Herb didn't make as much progress as he had hoped today because I added some scope to the project.  I figured as long as I have Herb here, I should get whatever I want done.  So, while he had the drywall out and the floor removed, I decided now is the time to get the TV cable outlets situated where I want them.  I had him put a cable on the opposite living room wall so I can move the sofa to the other side of the room.

I also had him add an outlet in the guest bedroom in case you want to watch TV in YOUR room when you come to visit! I asked him to put it up high so we can get you a flat screen TV and mount it on the wall.  You'd like that, wouldn't you?

It took Herb most of the morning to get that done, so he didn't get to start working on the plumbing until after lunch.  I asked him to line the plumbing up so that it will take up very little room at the back of the cabinets.

While Herb was doing that, he had John scraping the popcorn off of the ceiling.

Next, Herb started covering the openings on the wall with sheetrock.  We had asked him to angle the corners of the refrigerator space so that the refrigerator doors won't hit the corners.

The place is really starting to take shape but there is a lot left to do!

When he finished up today, Herb presented his bill for the first week! Cha-ching! It seems like a lot of money, but when you consider that I'm just paying Herb and not Herb plus an electrician and a plumber, I think it is pretty reasonable. I'm just glad Tony (my Splenda-Daddy) is at home working hard to cover our costs!

Tomorrow is more drywall work.  Everything here is COVERED in dust already and it will get worse when the sanding phase starts.

I'm going to try to let Herb work on the items on the list tomorrow!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Paws Awhile - My Day Off

It was nice having a day off from the remodel to get a few things done around Atlanta!  My hair is cut, my teeth are clean, the bills are paid and I caught up with some friends!

But my day off is over and I am back at the condo.  I flew in this morning and decided to drive into Jacksonville to look at granite for the countertops. I was encouraged by what I found at Empire Surfaces. The nice man there gave me to big chunks of granite to bring back and decide which one I like.

Costco just happened to be on the way back from the Granite place so I stopped in...  at lunchtime...  So, you can probably guess what I had for lunch.  Samples! Salmon, bagel bites, chicken tenders, tater chips...  whatever they were handing out. I picked up some new cookware for my new kitchen and a few other LARGE grocery essentials.

I called Handyman Herb when I left Costco to see if he needed me to stop by Lowes or Home Depot to pick anything up.  He wasn't even at my house!  He had an emergency at another customer's house, but he said his helper, John, was at my place working on tearing out the rest of the floor.

When I got to the condo, I found they had stacked the tile in front of the refrigerator. These people are NOT Lego Packers!  I had to move the tile to open the frig, and to make room for the dishwasher which will be delivered tomorrow.

I got a look at Herb's handywork on the telephone cable.  It looks a little like a rat's nest but nobody is complaining that their phone doesn't work so I guess its all good!

The electrical work is done.

The popcorn is gone from the ceiling!

The closet has a wall now.

Herb came back at around 6 o'clock and replaced the leaky pipe. He showed me the drain from the sink that he removed and it was so clogged, its amazing it would drain at all.

I ordered the new sink today!  Tomorrow I'm going to sign the order for the cabinets!!

It won't be much longer now!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Paws Awhile - Handyman Herb is a Hero!

I'm just crazy about Handyman Herb!  There is nothing that man can't do!  He's making great progress on the condo and fixing things left and right. Today he found a touch of mold growing on the back of the baseboard molding so he ripped out the sheetrock behind it and found a leaky pipe.

After he fixes that, we should have no more leaks and no more mold!

While Herb worked on sorting out the electricity, John worked on removing the closet wall so we can make a bigger space for the fridge. What you are looking at here is a view from the master bedroom closet into the kitchen.

Coastal Telecom arrived around 10AM to discuss moving the telephone line. The project manager who came by to assess the project could not determine a good way to move the line. He decided that we would need to pull a new cable from the phone room to our unit and splice the wires. He said he would need to discuss the project with his boss. A few minutes later, his boss called me and told me that it was a very complex project and would take 1-2 days and cost $1500-$2000.  I told Handyman Herb what they said and he said he can move the wires and expects it to take 45 minutes!  Go Handyman Herb go!  What a hero!

I was planning to catch a 1PM flight out of Jacksonville so I had to leave for the airport right after the Telecom guy. I hated to leave and miss all of the progress but Handyman Herb assures me he will text me pictures of the progress.  What a hero!

Lucy and I got the last seat on the flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta - literally!  We were the last standbys boarded and we got the window seat on the last row.  I had arranged for my friend Karla to pick me up at the airport and I would ride home with her since she just lives around the corner.  I got in a couple of hours before she gets off from work so I went back to the office to hang out until she was ready to go.  It was fun wandering around the building and visiting with old friends! Lucy enjoyed vacuuming the floor around everyone's cubicles. She found lots of crumbs!

Tomorrow I will get my hair cut, my teeth cleaned and run some errands.  Hopefully my hero will text me some pictures of his progress that I can share with you!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Paws Awhile on Fernandina Beach - The Demolition Continues

Lucy and I got up early so we would be ready when the contractor (AKA Handyman Herb) arrived. I covered the sofa with sheets and moved what furniture we could out of the living area because I assumed he would be doing sheetrock work first.

When Herb arrived, he said he had a helper coming to pull up the carpeting so we would need to move all of the furniture out.  While we waited for the helper, Herb started working on getting rid of the unwanted wall.  He had to move all of the electricity from that wall. Some of it, he would terminate in a box in the ceiling and some, he would pull across the ceiling to the other wall, depending on what we needed.

Herb made me feel useful - he let me switch the circuit breakers to help him determine which circuit controlled which wires.

He was able to remove the entire wall, being careful to cut around the phone cable.  Coastal Telecom is coming tomorrow to move it for me so it will be out of the way.
Once the helper-bee (John) arrived, we moved the remaining furniture into the master bedroom.  The sofa was too big to fit through the door, so Herb cut one of the legs off.  He assures me he can drill a hole & put a peg in to put it back on.  I'm not even sure we're going to keep the sofa so I'm not worried about it.

We had to get everything into the bedroom and still leave it usable since Lucy and I are planning to stay here tonight. My friend Joyce taught me the term "Lego Packer" and it describes me perfectly.  I am pretty good at assessing the space and making a plan to fit everything together.

While Helper-Bee John worked on pulling up the carpet, Handyman Herb and I continued to identify circuits. We found one "gotcha" with regard to the microwave. It was on a circuit with several of the outlets in the living room. Herb said this was a no-no because the microwave would pull too much electricity so he will pull new wires and put the microwave on a separate circuit.

We found another bit of bad news once the carpet was up. Most of the floor was fiberboard.  This is a big no-no at the beach.  There is just too much moisture. It needs to be replaced with plywood.

Herb had to leave after lunch due to an emergency call from one of his other customers, but he left the John to finish removing the fiberboard and remove the sheetrock from the refrigerator space.

Now we are ready to expand the refrigerator space, which means reducing the closet space, but, as I said before, we are at the beach.  Who needs clothes? Say goodbye to about 3 inches of the right end of this closet.

Just as I was finishing the blog, I heard Helper-Bee John say, "That's not good." I rushed out to see what was wrong. He had parked his truck under the balcony and had been throwing the fiberboard in the back over the side of the balcony. One of the pieces had broken the back window of his truck.

I felt so bad for him. He didn't seem to want sympathy so I decided to make a run to Lowes to get a gift card for Handyman Herb to use to buy the plywood and other supplies. While I was there, Herb called and asked me to pick up some wire. When I got back, John was gone and Herb was back. He's finishing up some of the wiring now.

I'm getting very excited now that things are finally starting to happen! Lucy and I are flying home tomorrow afternoon so I can get my teeth cleaned and my hair cut.  I'm coming back on Thursday but I'm not sure about Lucy.  She doesn't seem to like all of the noise.

I think that's it for today. My phone says it got up to 82 degrees today!!! It was a beautiful day on the beach. Too bad we didn't get to spend much time lounging around.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Paws Awhile on Fernandina Beach

We've been searching for a beach home for several years now. Tony says he wants to retire somewhere where he can sit in his wheelchair with a blanket over his lap and gaze at the ocean. I think we're a long way from being ready to sit in a wheelchair, but I do enjoy gazing at the ocean.

Our search for the perfect place started in Ireland in 2006. After a number of trips, we found what we thought was the perfect lot to build on. To comply with Irish building code, we were required to build on the same footprint as the ruins that were on the property. We did a lot of research and were disappointed to find that the price to build a tiny home on the footprint of the ruins was going to be out of our price range.

The next place our search took us was to North and South Carolina. We made one offer on a house near Beaufort, S.C. but could not come to an agreement with the seller.

We have friends who have a home on St. George Island, Florida so our next search led us there. We ended up buying a lot on Carrabelle Beach. That, as it turns out, was a mistake. When we got around to building, we found that we could buy an existing house on the beach on St. George Island for less than what it would cost to build on the lot we already owned - so we did that. We found a short-sale that fit the bill and now we own it. It was costly enough that we needed to rent it to pay the expenses. It was already in the vacation rental program and had quite a following, but we found that we weren't happy with the amount of time we got to use it, and it was a hassle not being able to keep our "stuff" there.

So, we started looking again. This time, we followed another set of friends who have bought homes in Fernandina Beach. Tony had his heart set on building his dream home. Neither of us have ever built a house so this would be new to us. Tony was excited about it but I was apprehensive to say the least. We made an offer on a lot, but during the due-diligence period discovered that it was questionable whether we would be able to build on it due to an encroaching dune. Ultimately, we backed out of the deal and got our deposit back.

We had all but given up when one of our friends told us about a great deal on a condo at the Sand Dollar Villas on Fernandina Beach. We flew down one day, looked at it and flew back home. The next day, we made an offer and it was immediately accepted. Surprisingly, the owners had written on the back page of their acceptance, "Seller to provide a new air conditioning unit."

So, in September 2013, we became the proud owners of what we are now calling "Paws Awhile" on Fernandina Beach! It's small, only 800 sq. ft. with 2 bedrooms & 2 baths. We're not planning to rent it, we we are excited to have a place we can call ours right on beautiful Fernandina Beach.

Its not all roses though. The place was built in the late 80's and has not been updated since, so it needs a little sprucing up.  We set aside the month of January to start remodeling the kitchen and living area. We actually thought we could get the entire remodeling project DONE during the month.  Bahahahahaha!!!

Here's what the place looked like "before".
The kitchen cabinets were old.
The cabinets over the sink blocked
the view of the living space and
made the already small space seem
even smaller.
The first task was picking out the new cabinets and settling on a configuration. This was harder than it seemed. We wanted to get rid of the cabinets over the sink so we needed to add cabinets somewhere else to hold cookware and dishes. We also needed a pantry.

While we worked on the new design, we met with the contractor we had chosen to do the electrical, plumbing, tile and sheetrock work. The contractor would remove the pole at the end of the peninsula cabinet to open up the space.We picked out our appliances but we couldn't find a counter depth refrigerator that would fit the space. Our contractor would move the wall to the right of the refrigerator to widen the space. This would take a few inches out of the master closet, but who needs clothes at the beach?

The contractor couldn't start until February, so that left me with some time on my hands. Tony decided to use the time to go back to Atlanta and go to work. He worked out a routine where he would fly to Atlanta on Tuesday, go to the office Wedinesday through Friday and then fly back to Fernandina Beach again Friday afternoon. Lucy, Lola and I would stay at the beach.

I can't sit still, so the first thing I did was create listings on Craigslist for our old cabinets, appliances and dining room table. Surprisingly, not only did I find a buyer for everything, but he did the tear-out for me as well.

With the kitchen removed, I
had to set up a makeshift
kitchen in the bathroom.
Thankfully the new appliances
had arrived and were stored
in the guest bedroom so we
were able to plug in the
refrigerator and keep
some food around.

Once the tear-out was complete, I got antsy again and started ripping sheetrock from the pole that would be removed. I found that the phone cable that services our unit and the two above us runs right through that pole. We would have to find a solution for that since we wouldn't be able to cut it.

With time still left before the contractor could start, I decided to see if I could remove the old tile floor.  I got the tile out of the kitchen area pretty easily but ran into trouble when I got to the foyer and hallway.

Thankfully Tony arrived in time to help with the remainder of the tile removal. We got reprimanded for being too loud when he started banging with the sledge hammer.

Once we finished the tile removal, there was wallpaper to be removed. Thank goodness for our Wagner Steamer!

Still waiting for the contractor, I contemplated what to do next.  I tried removing some of the old popcorn ceiling but decided that could wait. I couldn't think of anything else, so I decided to tackle some of the furniture. There was a really comfortable glider rocker that had really ugly green cushions on it.

I headed to Jo-Ann's fabric and found something a little more beachy that would match the other furnishings (not that we're going to keep everything).  It took me an entire day to cover the cushions but I was really pleased with the result and I only knocked the sewing machine off of the tray table once!

I have started trying to keep up with my ideas for the remodel on Pinterest.  Here's a link to my Pinterest board if you are interested.  Suggestions are welcome! Fernandina Beach Remodel Pinterest Board

Well, that's all I have to report for now.  Stay tuned!  The contractor is supposed to arrive Monday to start his part of the work.  I sent Lola home with Tony today (he couldn't go home Tuesday this week to work because of Snowgeddon in Atlanta).  Lucy and I already miss Lola.  (Oh, and Tony too).