A New Kitchen

kitchen with countertops

The cabinet refacing and the counter top installation are complete. I am very, very excited about this because I have been without a kitchen for a while. I have other sinks and such, but I have to say, it’s been weird using the microwave in the guest bathroom (it was the only space with a usable counter top).

Even though the installers finished their jobs, there were still things for me to do. First, I installed the new faucet and plumbing. The faucet went in ok, but I had a lot of trouble keeping the pipes underneath from leaking. The new sink is a different size than the old one – it’s deeper and the bowls are off-set. The drain pipe from the wall came out too far for the new sink, and the drain pipe from the left hand sink bowl ran into the wall pipe. For the first time since starting all this DIY stuff, I suggested calling a professional. They came out to fix my drain, and like I suspected, they had to cut the pipe coming from the wall. It made me feel better, because that is the sort of thing that I don’t really feel comfortable with. Later that day, I tried out the sink and it leaked again. The plumber came back, free of charge, and redid the silicone seal around the flange. The next morning, after the silicone had cured, I tested the sink again, and it still leaked. The plumbers came out, again free of charge, and tried to fix it. It turned out that the nut the manufacturer supplied with the sink flange didn’t fit properly, and that was the biggest cause of the leaks. Who knew – it wasn’t me?!

Duck helps with plumbingDuck checks out the drain

Of course, Duck helped me every step of the way. 🙂

After the plumbing came the backsplash. I really like the idea of a tiled backsplash rather than a painted wall. A chunk of the counter top and a drawer front in hand, Michael and I went to the tile store to select the tiles for the backsplash. We came back with something I didn’t expect – travertine tiles with marble and glass accents. The sales person helped us design it, and here’s what we came up with:

backsplash over cooktopbacksplash next to sink

I’ll admit, it’s not perfect, but it’s the first time I’ve laid tile myself. As of this moment, I’ve sealed the tiles, but I haven’t grouted. I’ll put up a picture when I’ve absolutely finished and cleaned up.

As a first timer, I had a lot to learn. For example, you can spread mortar on the walls and place tiles after, or you can back butter each tile. Counter to what I expected, the back buttering went faster. When I put the mortar directly on the walls, so much squished out between the tiles that I wasted time cleaning it up, and then the rest of the mortar would dry up while I was cleaning, so I had to scrape it off the wall and start again. The other incredibly important thing I learned, I debated talking about publicly. It’s slightly embarrassing, but I’ve decided in the end that other people need to know this. In all the instructions I read on the internet about tiling a backsplash, no one mentioned how to handle the plug sockets and switches. I removed the plates like I would for painting, and worked around what was in the wall. After I got all the tiles up, I finally found someone who spoke of his own backsplash, and he said that you need to unscrew the switches and plug sockets from the walls and rest them on the outside of the tile. There was no mention of turning off the breaker first, and this is what I think others need to know. While unscrewing a switch, my screwdriver slipped and touched what I think is a grounding screw attached to live wires. There was a huge spark, and the heat from the connection melted the screwdriver. The handle on the screwdriver was rubber, so I didn’t get hurt in the least, but it was shocking (pardon the pun) to see that sort of incident. So I’ve now learned that you can remove the switch plates without turning off the power, but don’t touch the rest of it without visiting the breaker box.

Tiling the backsplash took four days for me to complete. The problem was, I had classes to teach at the yarn shop before I could work, and with the short winter days, I ran out of daylight in a very short period of time. It’s really hard to use a tile saw in the dark, and I can’t imagine the neighbors would have appreciated me sawing tiles after midnight! Fun fact about the tile saw: it’s a grinder, rather than a cutter, so if you get your fingers in the way, it won’t cut you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you CAN injure yourself on a tile saw, but it’s harder to do than on your standard table saw.

Lamb and Duck helped me with this job, too, but I was so covered in mortar that I didn’t want to ruin my camera taking pictures of them sleeping on the dropcloth next to where I was working.

Speaking of Lamb, she finally did get her spay surgery. She is ready to go up for adoption now, but I am going to wait for the Twilight kittens (who have become incredibly affectionate) to make weight. So far, only Bella is under two pounds.I think it is a matter of days now.

This week I learned that not only am I really fond of Duck, be he loves me, too. I thought he was just a people person, but when he had the choice to hang out in his Daddy’s lap or watch me work, he hung out with me. He stays in bed with me until I wake up, just like Serra does (unless he’s really hungry, which happens a lot with a growing kitten). He was in the hallway calling for someone earlier today, and Michael answered him. Duck kept looking around in the hall until I called him, at which point he came running to get in my lap.

I started Duck on some training this week. When all of my cats were little, I got out a clicker and taught them a few parlor tricks. I have since given up the clicker, but only because the cats seem to learn from one another. I do a particular trick where I put a treat in my closed hand and tell the cats to touch. I occasionally put one in each hand and ask the cats to touch the one they think has the treat. They always win that game because every choice is a winner, but I bet they could figure it out based on smell. In any case, Wesley had to be taught using a shaping method. At first, he would touch my hand with his nose and I’d give him the treat. He moved on to licking my hand, and at some point he touched my hand with his paw. Now, only the paw touch gets the treat, but Wesley is all over it. Serra learned that trick simply by watching Wesley when she was small. She got it on the first try when I offered her the chance to do it. Duck took a few tries to learn (I think he isn’t as bright as Serra, but she is really smarter than the average cat), but now he gets “touch” as fast as anyone. I got Lamb to sit, but not Duck yet. Duck begs really well, though. Since Duck is still young and fearless, I want to teach him to balance on an exercise ball. The older cats seem afraid of falling off, so my previous attempts had been unsuccessful. Wesley used to jump back and forth between two chairs or stools I set up for him, but now he climbs off the original perch and walks across the floor to climb onto the destination. I guess the kittens I got eight years ago are just getting old!

As my constant companion, Duck seems interested in everything I do. He helps me blog by purring in my lap and occasionally walking on the keyboard. He helps me sweep by chasing the broom and rolling around in the dirt pile. He also knits when I have to get off the couch to get some sustenance or empty the tank:

Duck knits He’s actually pretty good about not eating the yarn unless I am actively using it.

My favorite thing about Duck? He makes Serra happy. I think that Serra wanted a kitten to take care of and a playmate to entertain her. She tried to get Buttercup to be said companion, but Buttercup has never liked poor Serra. Now that Serra has Duck, they do everything together.

Duck and Serra eat together Serra doesn’t like to share her dry food, but look at this! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.



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