Monday, May 28, 2007


La Ducha

When you build your own house you do have certain leeway in making on the fly changes-and I am the Queen of Change. Step back, take a look--"Hmmmm-that's not it. Let's try something else." Now, I haven't quite figured out if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I know it drives the other member of the team a bit crazy but, that goes both ways.

The shower had its share of changes, at least that's how it appears but in my mind, it looks just the way I envisioned it. You see, I compromised early on what I wanted for floor tile and was afraid of the lime plaster. After I decided to go for it on the lime and got the tile I wanted, it all worked but I had to make a few mistakes first.

This is the lime before polishing and staining. I loved the way it looked at this stage. So smooth and level and white.

The next step was polishing with a small steel trowel (it's all about the trowel) and polishing....and polishing...and polishing. This is not a process to start late in the day. You have to be there to trowel at the right stage and for the right amount of time. You just don't know beforehand when that time will be. Working with these old techniques really gives a view into the life of artisans and craftspeople of years gone by.

This is the before tile on the right and the after on the left. The rock tile just fits the rustic look of the shower walls and the colors are perfect.

This (right)then is the finished shower. We use it everyday and so far so good. The only problem we have is the lack of slope on the whole shower floor. A miscommunication or lack of communication with the slab crew. But, we have a longhandled squeegee that we use on the floor after every shower.

It's all good.

We got our landscape plan and are pleased with it. Scott is making a few changes and should have it to us tomorrow so we can submit to the "Design Review Committee". I don't foresee a problem. The concept of the design is a more wild or natural look around the perimeter of the lot with the area on the south side that will be walled in more linear and formal, which suits the style of the house.

The most exciting part is the wall design. I had agonized over this for a long time, going from cob to block to cob to bamboo to... Nothing caught. When Scott was here for the initial meeting we talked about gabions and possibly using the large number of rocks left on the lot in some way. The planets lined up and as he was driving in a neighborhood in central Tucson, he found this:Awesome, just what I wanted!

Scott's doing an interesting experiment this summer. Going without air conditioning and evaporative cooling. Got my goat because we buckled early on turning on the air, so now I'm back at it. Our biggest problem is the blast oven heat produced by the sons and their computers! Sizzlin! So I just close their doors and give a hearty "Good luck with that!" Right now at 4:20 pm it's 95.2 outside and 82.6 inside. Not bad. Just have to do most of the cooking outside, which we do anyway, watch the lighting (no incandescent or halogen) and don't leave windows and doors open. We'll see what happens. I once tried to eat only foods produced within 100 miles of Tucson-not an easy task. I lasted about 10 days. My inspiration was Coming Home to Eat a fascinating look at food and why we eat what we eat.

So, I'm off to check to solar oven-Blueberry Crumble.

And lest we forget-All gave some, Some gave all. Memorial Day 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Midnight at the Oasis

The hall bath. This is where we started, a decidedly minimalist look. Pretty bleak.

Then we progressed to this. This is the plywood stained rosewood-nope, that's not it.

And now we are here. Not sure of the style, funky, eclectic, flea market-whatever, I like it. I painted the wood with a Chocolate Raisin (or something, who comes up with these names anyway?) and then dry brushed black over it. The back splash is hardiboard painted and stenciled. The bottom shelf has baskets to hold whatever supplies need to be there.

The color of the border and ceiling-awaiting me to get up on a ladder and stencil. The difficulty in this room is it has a very tall ceiling and is very narrow with a toilet at one end and the vanity at the other making placing a ladder near impossible. But, I will do it someday when I'm feeling really rested and adventurous. And I'd better love the outcome because it may never get painted again.

So, that's Bathroom Number 1. Next installment: The Shower.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More kitchen photos...

Here's the beauty of the pantry by Rev-a-Shelf. It holds a lot of stuff and moves in and out easily. Right now it has some items which will go into the yet to be built baking island. In the Rita Ranch house we had a pantry closet that was always full but we were never quite sure with what. It had those deep shelves that allow items to hide. It also had a really high shelf and the floor-where things went to die. This is much more convenient and you can see everything.

This, of course, is the spice rack.
We opted for the drawer and door hardware with Blumotion-that means they close silently when you give them a firm push. I thought it was a bit over the top but the spice cabinet doesn't have that feature and we miss it. Spoiled already.
The dish rack. People find this fascinating, I guess because all of our dishes fit on this rack.
Our LG fridge, which is a big improvement over a side-by-side. Again, things don't get lost on the lower shelves.

And the stained concrete floor in the kitchen. I used the same combination of colors on all the floor just varied the proportion. The kitchen has a bit more green.

So, that's the kitchen.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

House For Sale

The minute we moved into the Civano house we started working on the Rita Ranch house to get it ready for sale. After much painting, floor installation, new sink and counter tops, it is listed for sale and can be seen here. Know anyone who needs an great house in SE Tucson in a good neighborhood with EXCELLENT neighbors? This is the house.

And what else have we been up to? Well, way back at the end of March (???!!)we had a great dinner with fellow HouseBloggers from This Old Crack House
Really, Gary's not as bad as everyone says.... and who else would listen to my stories of mixing paint with powdered milk, lime and pigment and not glaze over and run for the door? We had a great time and it was good to connect with o-Hi-ns.

Then we moved-y'all know what that's like-grueling.

We also took time out for a couple of days in Puerto Penasco-fabulous-as we cross the border (S to N) I always have to ask, "We are going back because....?" We ate shrimp, read, beachcombed, napped, read, beachcombed and ate shrimp. What could be better? Thank you, Kathy and Tom. This picture is the essence of the trip.

Now we can work on finish details at this place. Finish, you say! What could possibly be left as you've moved in? Plenty, I say, plenty. Trim details, landscaping, garage or as we like to call it-Disaster Area! All in good time, all in good time The Civano house is performing well, it stays about 5 degrees less than the ambient external temperature without air conditioning. It hit 100 Saturday and we turned on the air; with the thermostat set at 82 it keeps the place comfortable.

Rick and I went camping on Mt. Lemmon last week. Just an overnighter to check out our "new-to-us" Starcraft pop-up truck camper. No pictures as I forgot the camera. It was a cool, green respite at the beginning of a long hot summer.

Now for house pictures. I'm starting with the kitchen because it got the most questions at the Nosy Neighbors home tour. I'm also going to give things a Do-Again Scale, 1 wouldn't even think of doing it again and 10, in a heartbeat.

This is just after the lime paint had been applied and the kitchen sink is in its CoA mode.

And this is Nick, mid-cabinetinstall.
And the completed (well, the handles aren't on yet) kitchen. To the left, under the stovetop is a spice rack. Didn't think I'd like it and I don't--I LOVE it! Holds much more than I imagined it could. Drawers directly under stovetop hold pots, pans and lids and right now the silverware as the island which will hold the utensils is not completed. Under the sink is the garbage and recycling with a little curtain. I find that much easier than a door for places that get accessed frequently. then it's my Craigslist dw which works beautifully; quiet and actually cleans dishes. Amazing! Placement of the dw allows things to be put away when clean without moving much at all. The only difficulty, and it's a function of space not design, is the lack of space to the left of the dw. You can also see the built-in cutting board on the counter above the dw. Very handy.

The wall oven with a cabinet above which holds the microwave and cookbooks. Below are 2 huge drawers for crockpot, small appliances, plastic storage container and various miscellaneous articles. To the left the crowning jewel, costing a king's ransom, the pull-out pantry. I agonized over this purchase but it was definitely worth it.

Do Again Scale on the kitchen-10. Anything I'd change? I would have measured the diameter of my glasses so they would fit more easily on the shelves of the dishrack. I might have had a bin type door on the front of the undersink-but maybe not. I would have come up with a viable idea for the backsplash sooner. Sooner than, I still don't have one... The lime paint is fragile and not easliy cleaned, so I may just put a coat of latex on it, just not sure yet.

Really, once we get the island built this will be just what we need.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Oh my gosh, it's been over a month since I last updated this blog. Nothing bad happened, we're all OK but we did MOVE! and move...and move... Even though we got rid of a bunch of "stuff" we still have alot. And it just seemed to grow. But, we are in now and even were part of a Nosy Neighbors tour here in our neighborhood of Civano. We must have had 100 people through checking out the house that many of the visitors had watched evolve. I will post some pictures at a later date but wanted to share this with you. If you remember, last October I went to a workshop at the Canelo Project for a week to learn more about earthen plasters and other finishes. I got an email from Bill and Athena Steen with a link to a film made while there as part of Nora Naranjo-Morse's sculpture project for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. Always Becoming Two films are on this page-I'm seen briefly in the second one (No autographs, please!) (Warning-the films would not work from Mozilla Firefox but did fine from IE).