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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kitchen Done? CHECK!!

FINALLY!!!  No more misfit kitchen to deal with!!   NO MORE HANDWASHING DISHES!!!  (that's for you Mom and Chris!)  Last week, the guys came in and installed most of the cabinets in one day, then the granite installer arrived to take measurements.  Monday of this week, they showed up and layed down the granite (and a nice coat of dust in the house).   I had my favorite team of Patricio/Rene/Carlos come and install the dishwasher, garbage disposal, sink, and faucet (cost, $50 for 6 hours work each by 2 men).   Of course, nothing is without its bumps along the way.   The former drain outlet was too high on the wall so Carlos had to go outside and take his hammer and chisel (once again) and punch out a hole in the concrete wall to access the pipe and lower it...followed by re-patching the wall with concrete and blend it all in for me to follow up with paint.

New kithcen features:
  • Built in GE oven with rotisserie (gas AND electric)
  • Built in GE Microwave
  • Double-wide GE Refrigerator with ice maker and water dispenser
  • GE glass cooktop (gas)
  • GE dishwasher
  • Soft-close cupboard doors
  • Soft-close and fully extendable drawers
  • Pull-out kitchen faucet
  • In-countertop push-button on/off switch for disposal
  • Deep stainless steel UNDERMOUNT sink (means no gunk getting caught in sink rim)
  • New breakfast bar
  • Large pantry cabinet with slide-out drawers
  • Slide-out spice cabinet next to cooktop
  • New porcelain tile floors
  • Walls and ceiling freshly painted
  • New light fixture (replaced lovely dangling light bulb motif)
  • Small desk with glass display cabinets above it
No, I am not getting perks from GE!!!

Here's before and after of this yet another completed remodel project.

BARF blue-plaid wallpaper (hope the seller doesn't read this!)

Formica countertop, drawers that stuck, no dishwasher, no garbage disposal


With everything stripped out.

Notice there's no opening to the dining room...only a door leading in/out of the kitchen.

My temporary kitchen setup in the garage while the kitchen space was being readied

Knocking out a see-thru space for a breakfast bar

And.....the NEW RESULT!!!   New breakfast bar, see-thru to the dining room, new EVERYTHING!!!


The only thing left to do is a window valance and a few small wall decorations.




Desk to right of refrigerator and to the right of that, the pantry cabinet.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi - The Videos - Part 3 of 3

The fireworks.

Tilt your head to the left to watch this one, or if you have a laptop, tip it up.  Sorry....LOL!!!

Corpus Christi - The Videos - Part 2 of 3




Corpus Christi - The Videos - Part 1 of 3

Ladies and Gentlemen....we have a really beeg shew for you tonight!!  Please set your cell phones to STUN, and no flash photography por favor.



Corpus Christi

This week is the celebration of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ).  Not sure what the connection is, but much of the festivities that surround the main park square and Cathedral involve endless candy booths, fireworks, music, street performers, and hot air thingies.

Kathleen (uhwayback), my guest from the US of A, and I went early in the evening and it was a good thing we did because parking became non-existent once it was dark.  We walked past booth after booth after booth stacked with hundreds of cookies, candies, pastries, and who-knows-what.  Thousands of people crammed Parque Calderon in front of the cathedral to watch fireworks shot in the air as well as those rigged to bamboo tower-like structures with pinwheels and various religious images.  There were an array of street performers, one of which was a man dressed in black with a life-sized doll fixed to the front of him with a violin.  As he moved and played the violin, she moved too.  There were many food carts scattered about generally cooking up various meat skewers amidst a lot of smoke.  

What was the most intriguing were the 'hot air balloons'...not the ride-in kind...but maybe 3ft square on average, colorful, and sent aloft by folks waving dried bunches of weeds(?) under the structure then when the hot air filled the unit up, it would sail off into the sky with a small clump of something still burning under it to keep the flame going.   Boy, I really have all my facts down, don't I?

Anyway, you'll get what I mean in the photos and videos to follow.  There were a few larger balloons of interesting geometric shapes, too.  One couldn't help but wonder, what if these things land on something and set it afire?  A forest fire?   I dunno....I guess it wouldn't come down until the flame went out, therefore nothing to ignite wherever it landed.   But, I'm sure some people around the city awoke to some UFO looking thing in their yard...wherever it chose to land.

Candy, Cookies, Pastries OH MY!!!


A doll playing a violin.  The man operating 'her' looks like the Grim Reaper, no?

20ft or so tower of bamboo, pinwheels, and fireworks.

Purty at night.

One of the hot air balloons going aloft.

Using burning dry grass to fill the balloon up with hot air.

No, those aren't stars or planets you see....just many balloons aloft.

Cool, eh?

One of the extra large balloons being readied to send aloft.

Fireworks above the cathedral.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Closets Done? CHECK!!

Over the weekend, I ripped out the 15 year old ugly white closet from my bedroom and painted the newly exposed wall, all to be ready for Monday's installation of the new closets.

Well, they didn't show.  However, they did show today (Tuesday) and it took them the entire workday to install the closet components in the master and guest bedrooms....just in time for my first guest to arrive tomorrow.

Here's the pictorial story....

What the master bedroom closet used to look like.  BLECH!!

With the old closet removed and walls painted

Delivery truck with all the closet components and kitchen cabinets in it, stacked high!!

Up the stairs they go to the bedrooms.

Kitchen cabinets waiting to be installed...on my new porcelain-tiled floors!!.  The white sides are the sides that won't be seen.,

Guest bedroom closet being assembled.  Notice the adjustable legs and how, in the picture after the next picture, they hide the legs and fill in the gaps at the ceiling.

New master bedroom closet, repositioned along the longer wall.  All the drawers fully extend and everything has soft-close mechanisms.

Guest bedroom closet finished.  CHECK!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Money, Money, Money!!

In past posts, I've provided some examples of costs around here.  Well, I have more to report:
  • Custom made Sofa, 2 Loveseats, 2 Single Chairs, plus a formal Dining Room Table with 6 chairs = $2000
  • Custom made Coffee Table, plus 3 End Tables all with glass inserts, handmade from drawings I submitted = $360
  • Had a water leak in a concrete wall (pipe burst).  Carlos chisled out about 3ft of wall around the pipe as well as tile on the face of my outside laundry area, replaced the bad pipe, and patched the wall with new concrete and tile.  5 hours of labor.   Cost?  $55 ($25 for labor, $15 for parts, $15 for carton of replacement tiles).
  • At one of the several open-air mercados (markets), groceries were:
    • 30 eggs $2.70
    • 30 juice oranges $2.00
    • 12 apples $2
    • 2 lbs strawberries $2
    • 2 onions .40 cents
    • 2 lbs large shrimp $10
    • 1/4 chicken $1.50
    • 7 bananas .40 cents
    • 2 cucumbers .50 cts
    • 3 avocados $1
    • 7 tomatoes $2
    • 1/2 lb large blackberries .60 cents
  • Gas reg $1.48,  Super $2.08, Diesel $1.04
  • My utility costs per month?
    • Electric $25
    • Water $5
    • Natural Gas (dryer, hot water, cooking) $2 - $5
    • Garbage pickup (twice a week) FREE
    • Recycle pickup (once a week) FREE
  • Today, two men arrived to install my new porcelain tile floors in the kitchen.  The product itself (tiles) were $250 for a 12 ft x 12 ft room.  The labor to install was $4 per square meter (a little more than one square yard) which came to a total of $65.  They were here 4 hours.
After all those BORING statistics, here's some pics of what that money bought.


The two single chairs I had custom made, and one of the end tables in-between.

One of the loveseats (the other is in the TV loft...not shown) plus the big couch and coffee table.

Handcrafted dining room table for 6 with frosted glass insert
Carlos chiseled out channels in the concrete wall to add a plug-in for the dishwasher and garbage disposal, plus an on/off switch for the disposal.  After the tubing and wire was added, he backfilled with concrete until it was flush with the wall.


My new porcelain tiles being installed right over the top of the old ceramic ones.  The new grout lines will be extremely thin...maybe 1/16th of an inch wide!!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Remodel...Kitchen Be Gone!!

In my next act, I will make my kitchen disappear!!!   WHOOOSH!! 

I signed a contract for the new kitchen cabinets, granite, and porcelain floors this week, so now the rush is ON!   In the midst of all that, wardrobes will be constructed in the master and guest bedrooms.  It's going to be a chaotic couple weeks.  Everything has to line up in order because one thing depends on the other being done before it.  Aside from that, I had to have new brakes put on the car today, a friend who's been in the hospital 5 weeks is finally out and desperately trying to return to the US where he will most likely live no more than another month.  So, his friends are scrambling to get him packed, take care of all the loose ends, get flights and housing, etc.   Some sponsors got him a flight out of Quito to Houston and today I got him a ticket from here to Quito.   Anyhoo, and I have my FIRST guest coming from Seattle (yeah, yeah...doesn't it rain there all the time?) and she's arriving June 22nd.  Hopefully, I will have most of this chaos wrapped up by then.

I called up the guy who handled all my interior painting and bartered with him.  In exchange for him cutting a new breakfast bar hole in my wall and taking out what's left of the kitchen cabinets...he can HAVE the old kitchen cabinets, sink, faucet, old closet, and old floor moldings I removed when the new floors were put in.  Deal.  His guys would be here 8am manana.  And, they were here...the very next day.

Great to see the guys Carlos (24) and Rene (17) again.  They're great guys who bust their butts and do a damn good job without having to be watched over.  No sloughing off, no whining, no nothing but quality work.  Rene (again....17!!) is pint-sized, maybe 5' 6" and 130 lbs.  He was hauling out gunny-sacks full of broken brick like he was taking out the garbage, never asking for help.  He's probably making $3 an hour.

I was worried about cutting the concrete/brick walls for all the dust.  They sealed off the room to prevent dust from wafting thru the house, and wore scarfs over their faces and created a huge cloud of dust that billowed out the back door and open window.  That worked.  However, they had to take small sledge hammers to break out the wall from both sides and there was no way to seal it off.  So, my house ONCE AGAIN got slaughtered with dust.  It's awful.

By the end of the day, we had accomplished moving all the cabinets out of the kitchen into the garage where I now have a makeshift drive-in kitchen, cut and removed all the concrete creating a new see-thru breakfast window, and smoothed out the new opening with fresh concrete, ready for painting.

Tomorrow, they return to install new electrical outlets for the dishwasher and garbage disposal (two things that are rare here), and a below-counter outlet for the new cooktop.  When all is said and done, when cooking, the cook will be facing the breakfast window and anyone sitting/standing on the other side.

Of course, photos follow to show you what we accomplished today (besides making a big dusty mess of the rest of my house).

Before we started.  I had previously removed some cabinets on my own weeks before.

Rene and Carlos removing the longest run of cabinets

Ugly, ain't it?  So glad to see that blue plaid wallpaper go!

Where they ended up...in the driveway.  GET OUT OF THE PICTURE GRACIE!!

Whacking out the hole from both sides of the wall.  No, that isn't dust on my camera lens, that's the dust in the AIR!!!

That WAS my kitchen

My very very dusty dining room table...an indication of what wafted through my house!!  UGH

Hole finished by the end of the day.  Fresh cement around the edges smoothed out all what was rough.  Looking from the kitchen into the dining room

My temporary drive-in kitchen.  Fully functional in the garage.  Anyone for an omelet?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Remodel...Doors and Floors

Well, the following was supposed to be published 5 days ago but while I was editing it, the internet went down and I've been without it for FIVE WHOLE DAYS!!   Geez, you'd think I was without water!!   ETAPA, my internet provider had massive problems that supposedly affected every one of their customers, but when they got it fixed, mine was still inoperable until their reps came to my house today and worked their magic.

So, back to what I was saying 5 days ago....

I finally got my 5 new doors installed over the past few days.  My gosh,  I didn't realize it would take so long to install them!  Two young guys spent 15 hours installing 5 doors and frames...that's 3 hours for each door!   And, UGH, when it was all over, everything upstairs was coated in dust.  That INCLUDES the 108 stairwell spindles that I hand-cleaned just a few weeks ago after my new floors were installed!!!   So, I've decided I'm not doing any more deep cleaning until the closets are installed and the kitchen remodel is done, which I hope all will be complete by the end of June.

Back to the doors.  They look soooo nice!!  Custom, handmade for me, and they aren't cheapo hollow bonk-sounding doors either.  Now, I no longer have to wake up in the middle of the night to find two cats and my dog hogging the bed and myself relegated to a thin sliver along the edge.  I can shut my door and have the WHOLE bed to myself!!!

Now, the floors.   As I mentioned before, I ripped out the carpet from upstairs (downstairs is all tile) which left me with bare concrete floors for a few months.  I finally found a decently priced product for piso flotantes (floating hardwood floors) and had them installed a few weeks ago.   In a couple days, they'll come back and finish out all the moldings.

So, here's a few before and after pics for your enjoyment:

TV Loft (when house was listed)


TV Loft (before new flooring)

TV Loft after new floors.  Baseboards installed yesteday.  Now need curtains.


Looking into Guest Bedroom before new floors/doors.

Guest Bedroom - after new paint, floors

My new doors, frames, and molding

Guest Bedroom - after new paint, floors, furniture, and door.

About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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