Monday, February 28, 2011

Show & Tell Part 2 -- Finished Coach House

Hi all -- Dianne here.  If you are not interested in our coach house remodel, save your time and skip this blog issue!

Seven weeks after our first call to Raul Gonzales, we finished the coach house yesterday with the installation of the painted cabinet doors, knobs, and toilet paper holder.  We are officially done!  This blog will simply be photos and a few explanations.  I say we are officially "done," although there is still the question of what kind, if any, tile or glass backsplash we might install behind the kitchen sink.  We have three hand-painted Italian tiles we purchased in Tuscany that we'd somehow like to incorporate into the backsplash:
Don't want to cross the line into "too much," but I'd really like to use these tiles somehow.  Any suggestions?  We originally considered dark blue tiny glass background with these tiles interspersed. Might still do that.  (We bought the cabinet knobs with that idea in mind.)

As you enter the coach house through the French doors, the first thing you might notice is the tile threshold Roger designed: 

Looking ahead, you would see the view of the kitchen area shown in the top photo.

The sun was so bright that it was hard to get the colors just right, but you can get the idea.    Remember that you can enlarge the smaller photos by clicking on them, if you are interested in a closer view.  

Here's a close-up of the Mexican talavera ceramic knobs we purchased for the kitchen cabinets (The bathroom vanity and cabinet have a different pattern of talavera knob):

Here is a close-up view of the granite countertop.  

More kitchen views:

On the other side of the refrigerator are the two cherry Amish furniture pieces we decided to keep.  They offer great storage:

The north wall has the main front window.  We added a granite ledge to the window shelf.
There's no window covering yet on the windows, so it was hard to get a good photo of it without glare.  

Still turning counter-clockwise, the next view shows our wine rack in the northwest corner.  The large wall art is a compilation of photos of the villa and wine/olive oil bottles from our vacation in Tuscany a few years ago:
Turning next to the west wall, Roger's Grandmother Norris's kitchen table and chairs fit great under the west window.  The chair cushions are also souvenirs from Tuscany.

Another view of the dining area gives a glimpse of our motorhome out the window.  You can see the French doors coming into view, which means we've come full circle in our tour of the living area of the coach house.
The bathroom/laundry is on the south end of the coach house, across a smaller threshold piece:

Straight ahead as you open the door is this view of the bathroom:
You might remember in an earlier blog that I had ordered a Mexican hand-painted talavera vessel sink.  Well, the sad tale is that it broke during installation, and we discovered a replacement wouldn't be available for four weeks.  At that point we were so ready to be done that I hopped into the car and drove to Home Depot for a local replacement.  I actually think this glass sink matches the granite better than the Mexican sink would have.  I wish I could say it was less expensive.

Roger glued the Mexican sink back together and we made it into a bird bath (although they just drink from it) for the gang of 15 mockingbirds that hang around our yard:

Going counter-clockwise again, here's a view of 
the corner shower in the southeast corner:

This shows just how compact everything is, and how every inch counted in our planning.  The next photo shows the edge of the shower and the small space between the shower and my stacking washer & dryer which houses our tiny little Kinetico water softener:
Looking back toward the kitchen area, here's the top of the wall next to the washer/dryer, showing my bird house shelf, and the bathroom side of the stained glass window and door:

Continuing counter-clockwise, beyond the door to the west bathroom wall:
And back to the vanity.  Here's a close-up of the sink and granite vanity top, and the very cool bathroom "tap" as our Canadian friends call it:
Our main use for the coach house is for cooking, eating meals, washing dishes, showers, and laundry.  We wanted an indoor eating area large enough to have friends over for dinner without worrying about the weather.  Our very first dinner guests were Bob and Linda, who will be our next-door neighbors when their coach house is constructed.  (They are our blog friends we wrote about in the prior blogs).  Here's a shot taken at our first "dinner party":
 We opted not to make a sitting area, since our satellite tv/dvr is in the motor home and we have comfy chairs there.  Also, when we're not watching tv, almost all of our sitting time is spent outside on the patio.  All that's left to arrive is the new grill we've ordered.  I have a convection microwave in the kitchen, but no stove, so we ordered a grill with a side burner, since we plan to do much of our cooking outdoors.  

This week our new propane fire pit arrived, just in time for our friends Chuck and Cindy's visit in a little over a week:
I'm including one more patio photo, just because I like it:
Roger and I purchased this solid copper cauldron at an antique store in New Harmony, Indiana in 1973.  It fits snugly into an old chiminea stand, and with water and a solar fountain, is a magnet for the local bird population to get a drink.  

The whippet/doggie photo of the day is entitled "Double-Decker Dogs":
Now that we're finally done with the construction that has taken over our lives since early January, we'll try to make our blogs a bit more interesting from now on, as we begin to actually "get a life" again!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funny Face

Roger here...   Today's post is dedicated to selected shots of Dianne as she finishes up the last of her self-imposed painting tasks - finishing up the coach house.  "Self imposed" refers to the fact that I am not allowed to touch a paint brush; therefore, all the painting had to be done by Dianne.  I will also talk about a family reunion for Bandido, minor surgery for Chaplin, and the completed outdoor areas of the coach house.

Dianne has always accused me of being sloppy with a paint brush; however, my mishaps have never reached the level of the bronze paint fiasco.  Notice the dark bronze accents on Dianne's face and hands?   I don't have a shot of her legs, but let me just say they looked as if they were covered with very dark varicose veins.  Don't you just love the way that she managed to make perfectly straight parallel lines on her nose?  The oil-based metallic paint was applied to most of our outdoor furniture, and also to Dianne.  The kicker here is that even paint thinner would not remove the shiny bronze from her skin.  She literally would not go out in public for four days.  I must admit,  however, that the results were great.  Our outdoor furniture has never looked better.

After a few days of rubbing toxic chemicals on her legs and literally scraping the paint off, my lady Van Gogh tackled the white undercoat and finishing paint on bathroom cabinets and shelving. Note the results.  Dianne does indeed have a set style in her self-decoration.  I like to call it post-modern splotchilism.

Time to move on...  Yesterday we were invited to bring Bandido to the RV Park next door, Bentsen Palm Village.  The residents of the RV park were presenting a check for $2,000 from their annual pet parade fundraiser to Suzanne, the owner of the Cinderella Pet Rescue Center where we found our little guy.  Everyone thought it would be fun for Suzanne to see the eight dogs that were adopted from her rescue center who now have permanent homes in our RV communities.

Bandido had a great time reuniting with his old buddies from the shelter.  The highlight for us was his reaction to seeing Suzanne.  There was no doubt that he remembered the lady who literally saved his life, as he jumped all over her and smothered her with kisses. When she found him in her burglarized bed and breakfast at the age of three months, he was covered with black oil/grease and had no fur.  He is now a frisky, friendly, intelligent young guy who has won our hearts.

By the way, we now know his heritage.  The tissue sample that Dianne sent in shows that he is one-half Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler), one-quarter Belgian Shepherd, and, believe it or not, one quarter American Bulldog.  We expected the Blue Heeler result -- he has all the markings -- but were very surprised about the Bulldog thing.  However, when you look at Bulldog photos, Bandido really does have similar ears and those huge paws.

We also have news about Chaplin.  He has been afflicted with skin lesions for a couple years.  They appear, stay for a month or two, and usually dry up and disappear.  Unfortunately, if they don't go away on their own, they get large and they bleed.  Last May, our Indiana veterinarian (who was not sure what they were) surgically removed one of them.  Saturday, a local vet from the Banfield Clinic removed one that was bleeding and three smaller ones.  He called them skin tumors and sent one to pathology to see if he can find the cause.  We'll find out in early March when the stitches are removed if we have reason for concern.  In the meantime, we have to be careful about allowing him to do the 35 mph whippet run for fear of tearing out the stitches.  Poor puppy.  He also has one of those attractive neck umbrellas, that he hates.

Dianne will tell you about the final results of the inside of our coach house on the next post.  I get to show you pictures of the outside.  

First, a couple of overall shots of the back patio area and our new pergola.

We turned our antique copper cauldron into a water feature with the addition of a solar fountain.

Our new hand-painted Talavera bathroom sink that was accidently broken before installation is now a bird bath - very popular with the gang of mockingbirds that hang around.

Dianne had fun building a cairn from the rocks we have collected on our travels over the years.  It is a temporary thing that will be replaced by a propane fire pit (surrounded by our rocks.)  But for the time-being Bandido likes to pose by it.

I spray painted our outdoor pots.  I am allowed to use spray paint as long as I am outside and at least 25 yards from any structure.  (An added caveat is not having Dianne in the vicinity to supervise.)  After a couple of trips to Home Depot they were filled with brightly-colored flowers.

We haven't had time to lounge around back there yet, but we will.  We did, however, get to entertain our new neighbors, Bob and Linda.  (Dianne here:  I'm editing this to add the exciting news that our blog friends, Bob and Linda K., whom we mentioned in our last blog, have purchased the empty lot next door!  We'll soon be Retama neighbors!!  If you want to learn more, read the last few blogs of Bob's (Because-we-can) -- link at the left of our blog.)

The front of the coach house is decorated with a rustic planter that contains a copper water feature that once belonged to my parents.  The second photo shows the area at night and offers a sneak preview of Dianne's soon-to-come post showing off the inside.

The doggie picture of the day does not feature a doggie, but it does involve a doggie and his new discovery of paper towels.  As you look at the photo, imagine the tune and lyrics from West Side Story with a slight twist....  "Oh No, Bandido, (Bernardo) No!  Bandido, No!"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whew! We Need a Break!! Plus, a Special Visit

Hi all -- Dianne here.  We're behind on our blog because we've been in the middle of a whirlwind of activity at the coach house.  It's all coming together now.  

When we last blogged, Roger wrote of the upcoming cold spell.  Down here they call them "Blue Northers" and they can drop the temperature 40 degrees in a matter of minutes.  That's exactly what happened, with a scary gust of wind to usher it all in.  

I posted on Facebook that there's just something wrong about icicles on palm trees, and I'll repeat it here.  

Here's a photo of Roger holding an icicle he harvested from our baby palm tree out front.  That same morning the driveway was a sheet of ice.  As I shuffled outside with Bandido to take him for a quick potty break, I felt like I was back in Indiana.

This being Deep South Texas, however, the cold weather didn't last long and now it's back in the 70s.  It's predicted to be in the 80s later, so here's a sneak peek at our new pergola that is being finished today.  We'll really need it soon.

Our custom cabinets were delivered after only a week, and my painting duties began at once.  I hurried and got my wall cabinet painted while Raul's scaffolding was still in the room. 

The granite guy came the next day and measured, and brought the granite back to install two days later!  It was already after 5:00 when they arrived, so here's a pretty dark photo Roger took of me spying through the motor home door to watch the installation.  I was so excited!!

The next day I managed to get the bathroom wall cabinet painted before the toilet was installed.  

I'm still not finished painting the cabinets, but that had to be put on the back burner because a very exciting delivery was made Saturday morning...our POD of furniture from Indianapolis!  In order to avoid another (expensive) month of storage, it needed to be delivered in the midst of all the other activity.  It arrived right on time, and Roger crossed his fingers, hoping it wasn't all broken to bits inside from our amateur packing endeavors.

The arrival of the POD sparked quite a bit of local curiosity, as it did when it was loaded in Pendleton, Indiana last August.

We managed to unload the whole thing, and not one item was broken or damaged.  I guess we did okay loading it all.  It looks like a lot of junk in this photo, but that's because most of the outdoor things were loaded last.  Our next thought was:  Where in the world are we going to put all this stuff???!!!

The next two very long days were spent unpacking and fitting it all in.  There was only one box of items that we decided not to use after all, two wall clocks, some small wall prints, a lamp, and miscellaneous stuff.  We offered it to the nice guys that have been working on our coach house these past six weeks, and luckily for us they wanted it all.

Sunday was a very special day for me.  Five years ago, Bob and Linda K. quit their jobs and began their fulltiming adventure.  I happened upon their blog right at the beginning, when they were buying their motor home and getting started.  I became hooked, and I lived through them vicariously for the next two years, while Roger was still working and we prepared for our own fulltiming adventure.  In fact, it was through Bob's blog "Because We Can" that I realized that this life style was so perfect for Roger and me.  Linda began her own blog (Because We Can II), and now I read them both.  I was thrilled to learn that they would be here in Mission for a week and that we could finally meet in person.  (Linda and I have been Facebook friends for a while).  

They came over and we spent a very (much needed) relaxing afternoon getting to know each other better.  We are going to visit them at Mission West RV Park this afternoon.  I'm hoping to entice them into a place of their own here at Retama!

Isn't technology great?  These are two very special people who are now friends.  They started out from Sacramento, California.  We never would have met in a million years if not for the internet.

Check back soon for an updated show and tell of our soon-to-be-finished coach house.

Our doggie photo of the day is a little quirk of Bandido's.  When he eats his food he does it lying down.  I've never seen a dog do this before, although I've since heard that one of his pals, Minka, at the dog park does the same thing.