Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Countertop Complete for the Lobsterfest!

Although it has been done for a couple of weeks, I forgot to post the finished slate countertop! Since starting at a new client for work, and riding after work every night, I get home at 9pm and have had barely any free time to post!

Luckily we finished in time for the surprise party, I had been planning for my brother's 40th birthday. He was really surprised!
We had a great lobsterfest!
Lobster, steamed in beer, the only and BEST way to make lobster!!!

Now that the patio is done. Next project is the rest of the backyard.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June's Featured Etsy Blogger: BeadedTail

Congrats to this months feature, Sharla, AKA Beadedtail!!!

The Beaded Tail, has beautiful jewelry in her shop, a lot of which are pet related to the cat and dog. The best thing about her Etsy shop is that a portion of the sales go to animal awareness causes! You can also stop by her blog to see what she's up to creatively and to get to know her pets.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Suryia the Orangutan and Roscoe the Dog - True Friends

This was just so cute I had to share....
After losing his parents, Suryia, a 3 year old orangutan was so depressed he wouldn't eat and didn't respond to any medical treatments. The veteranarians thought he would surely die from sadness. Dr. Bhagavan Antle, founder of The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in Myrtle Beach, told the Daily Mail that Roscoe, the Bluetick Coonhound, followed him and Suryia through the park's gate one day. "As soon as he saw Roscoe, Suryia ran over to him and they started playing," Antle said "It was unusual because dogs are usually scared of primates; but they took to each other straight away." After a few unsuccessful phone calls to find an owner, Antle said they decided to let Roscoe stay.

The orangutan found a new reason to live and each always tries his best to be a good companion to his new found friend.

Swimming is their favorite past time, although Suryia needs his friend's help to swim.

Together they have discovered the joy and laughter in life and the value of friendship They have found more than a friendly shoulder to lean on.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

DIY BBQ Countertop

A few more no shows and several people who wouldn't call back so we decided to just settle on The Granite Center who actually did show up to give us an estimate (aside from the $6,000+ estimate). It was still more than I wanted to spend $2,100 (plus tax), but I just want this thing done, and since no one will show up we didn't have a ton of options. The Granite Center sent us down to the slab yard 45 min away to pick out our granite and while down there I asked the guy about different prices to make sure I didn't pick out some expensive, exotic stone. He pointed us to an area and said they were all about the same price and reassured us when I showed him my choice.

The Granite Center called us to come down and fill out the paperwork (and get money) so they could get started. As soon as we sat down the guy said it actually is going to cost $400 more than the estimate I gave you...

I don't remember my exact words, but I don't think they were very nice. I got up from my chair and made a b-line out the door. When Chad caught up to me outside we both agreed that we are sick of being taken advantage of. These contractors give you an estimate to rope you in and then take you for every last dime they can. Coincidentally the $6,000 guy called back wondering if we had made a decision and after we told him it was way too much he told us he could negotiate. So basically he was going to rip us off for as much as possible. No! No! No!

So we decided to tile it ourselves. I am not handy. The biggest home improvement project I have ever done was strip the paint off of our built in china cabinet and shelac it. Chad has also never done anything like this, so we got a book from Home Depot and bought the supplies to get started. Plywood, thinset, screws, a level, Backerboard, fiberglass tape, 2"x4", etc. Oh boy this is going to be a challenge!!!

Day one we framed the inside of the barbecue with 2x4's so that we would have something to anchor the plywood to. Cinderblock is quite tough to drill into, but we bought a special drill bit that made it possible (not easy but possible). At this point we realized that the guy who built the barbecue did not measure very well because nothing lines up. One side is one length the width changes, it isn't level. This is going to make this job very difficult! Doesn't anyone take pride in thier work anymore?

We also cut and fit plywood on one side. A very successful day in my eyes.

Day two Chad finished cutting the plywood to fit over the entire countertop and also cut the cement-backer-board to fit over that. It is not the easiest to cut in odd shapes, probably because it is cement. The cement backer board can be cut with a saw, but that process creates clouds of choking dust. And in our case it ruined the blade completely. You can score the cement backer board with a hand tool that has a carbide tip. You make numerous passes along the cut line, and then apply pressure to the other side of the cement backer board along the scored line.

I got home at this point and I was ready to do something (even though Chad was ready to call it quits). We then mixed up the cement based thinset. Once thinset is mixed with water, it makes a sticky mortar that tenaciously grabs onto anything it touches. So after we were mixing and mixing it finally looked like it was ready to spread over the plywood. You spread the sticky, gloppy mess around with a special square-notched trowel. Then we screwed the
backer board onto the plywood and to make a sandwich with the thinset in between. I then taped the joints and edges with fiberglass tape and more thinset. We finished up around 10 last night. Tile next!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June Birthstones: Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite

Elizabeth Necklace

From one of the humblest of life forms, the mollusk, comes the pearl. Ancient civilizations had many stories to explain the origin of June's birthstone, such as the Greek belief that pearls were the hardened tears of joy that the goddess of love shook from her eyes as she was born from the sea. According to Arab legend, pearls were formed when oysters were lured from the depths of the ocean by the beautiful moon and then swallowed moonlit dewdrops. And the Ancient Chinese thought that these gems originated from the brains of dragons.

The scientific explanation for natural pearls is almost as mystifying as folklore. When an irritant, such as a small parasite or a fish lodges in the flesh of an oyster, mussel, or clam, a protective substance called "nacre" is produced. Over years, layer upon layer of shimmering nacre coats the intruder, creating a lustrous pearl. Natural pearls are relatively rare, so a process evolved in which a piece of shell or bead was placed inside a mollusk to stimulate the production of nacre. This results in a cultured pearl, which accounts for about 90 per cent of the pearl industry. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty.

Pirouette Bracelet

June has two alternate birthstones. The first is Moonstone, a type of feldspar named because of its uncanny resemblance to the iridescent sheen of the moon. A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light called adularescence. Varying in color from clear to blue-white or peach, it was considered by ancient civilizations to be a sacred stone, bestowing the wearer with great spiritual understanding. Some believed that the Moonstone could even make a person invisible! Mined in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Madagascar, and the United States, a gift of this stone is symbolic of health and longevity.

Rainbow Moonstone Earrings

Dreamland Bracelet

Moonlit Walk Necklace

Moonlit Walk Earrings

The second alternate birthstone for June is the Alexandrite. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. Because of this quality, it has been characterized by poets as "an emerald by day, a ruby by night." Alexandrite was first discovered in Urals in 1830 but is mined today primarily in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Burma, Madagascar and Tanzania. It is a rare and expensive gemstone, symbolic of joy and good fortune.

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