Homeless Turtle Sanctuary

A journey about renovation, renewal and making the most of what you have.


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Tiling the countertop

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So it’s been a awhile. I’ve been keeping busy.

Our new business is off to a strong start. We are loving life at the Homeless Turtle Sanctuary.

There is beauty everywhere we look. The woods and the lake are perfect. We see wild animals all the time. We hear birds singing and coyotes yelping. We love our work remodeling and repairing our neighbors homes.

We are making good friends and enjoying much more time with family.

So this week, I decided to tackle a job that has been waiting since we built the house. There wasn’t enough butcher block to cover the counter between the refrigerator and the stove. So I decided that I would tile it. We’ve been doing quite a few tile jobs and now I have enough scraps to make the design I settled on.

I spent a few days cutting the pieces to the design. Yesterday I cemented them in place. Today I am grouting. I know I should have taken photos of each step, but I am out of practice.

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The grout is still wet. but I am very excited to have gotten this job going. Hopefully you can tell what the pattern is…a turtle shell.

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Living in the house and finishing details

We moved into the house a couple weeks ago. So, with the month off in December it took us 4 months to build this house.

Now between jobs to earn money, we are finishing up details.

We made a light for over the kitchen sink. We used an old minnow bucket, a stringer and some fish that I cut out of stained glass.

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We also built the custom ladder to the loft.

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it stores to one side when we aren’t using it.

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And installed the screen door.

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We still need a few nice days to pant the outside.

 

Then painted the cabinets. Okay, don’t look inside, chaos reigns inside, still need to build shelves and doors.

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The bathroom vanity is Anjou Pear, by Sherwin Williams.

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The kitchen cabinets are Pewter Tankard by Sherwin Williams.

We are feeling pretty comfortable in the house. It is very snug. We haven’t needed the wood stove until the past two days and only very small fires then. We are happy.

 


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Kitchen Cabinets

We are building our own kitchen cabinets. There aren’t a lot, just three. We have a limited budget and we also want then to last.
In our budget range the cabinets were cheaply made and clearly wouldn’t last long. They had components made of mdf or particle board. We wanted all wood.
Thankfully Larry enjoys working with wood.

2x4 frame for cabinet

2×4 frame for cabinet

We used some of the leftover birch plywood from the loft to make the floors. The frames are made of 2x4s and 2x2s. The trim is made of pine 1 bys.

sink base

sink base

They are definitely a little over built. As Larry assured me, we could rebuild engines on these counters.
We decided to go with butcher block counter tops. We bought 8 feet of oak butcher block from lumber liquidators for less than $200.00.

Butcher block

Butcher block

 

We are sealing the butcher block with a mixture of bees wax and mineral oil. The seal needs to be food safe and water proof.

sink in the sink base

sink in the sink base

we've started sealing the butcher block

we’ve started sealing the butcher block

We came up a few inches short of being able to use butcher block on all three cabinets, so we will tile the top of the middle one eventually.

the smaller cabinets

the smaller cabinets

The cabinets are going to be painted.

It has been very satisfying to build them. They have not cost much at all. They are sturdy and they look really nice. Larry spent about two days building them. I have lived in older homes with all wood cabinets obviously built right on location. We are very pleased that we are able to have such nice cabinets.


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Bathroom Tile and stone work

We are using quite a bit of tile in the house. Eventually, all the floors will be tiled. Being close to the lake and the woods makes it too hard keep floors clean, so we will tile to make them easier to deal with.

In the bathroom, the tub walls are tiled. The floor is tiled. and we are tiling the wall behind the toilet.

And I have decided to use second hand tile. I have some tile that I salvaged from a job we did. I bought a selection of tile from Restore. It’s all different, but I think I can make it work.

I also bought a granite scrap at Restore and I am planning to have the window sills in the kitchen and bathroom be stone. I like to use window sills for plants and wood just doesn’t hold up well.

In addition, the bathroom floor will be heated. This small house is primarily heated with wood from our wood stove. But we like the idea of a nice warm bathroom floor. so we installed radiant heat in the bathroom floor.

radiant heat system in the floor

radiant heat system in the floor

I’ve worked quite a bit with tile in the past. This is the first time I have tiled a tub surround.

In the bathroom we used greenboard instead of regular drywall. It is a little more resistant to mold which is important in such a damp room.

green board

green board

The walls around the tub are also covered with 4 mil plastic before we installed the cement board. ‘Then we painted the cement board with redguard, which is a water resistant coating.

cement board around the tub

cement board around the tub

The idea is to keep the moisture in the tub and not let any get inside the walls.

floor tile mortared

floor tile mortared

It was challenging to take these assorted tile and make it look planned. I used graph paper to plan it all out. I think the floor turned out particularly well. The large tile are polished limestone. In between them are assorted porcelain pieces. The threshold is slate. One of the complications with going to Restore and buying a mix of tiles is that the thicknesses of the tiles are all a little different. I tried to use a little more mortar where I thought it might be a trip hazard, otherwise I was willing to accept the variation as part of the pattern.

We also are building our own vanity. It is fairly simple to do.

We did shop around for a vanity but most of them are at least partially chipboard which never holds up. We did find one that was all wood and it was over $300. So we are building one ourselves. It is actually the kind of work that Larry likes best.

vanity frame

vanity frame

We had some birch plywood left from the loft and pieces of 2X4 for framing. We will finish the outside with 1 bys and seal with polyurethane.

 


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The loft

We are busy working on the interior. We have finished everything but the trim in the loft.

the loft

the loft

The loft will be our bedroom until we can add on the rest of the house. It is small but it can hold our queen sized bed, Larry and I have measured it more than once to make sure.

Because the ceiling is sloped, we opted to go with wood paneling so that it will hold up to being touched.  We used 1/2 birch plywood for the paneling.

The stack of plywood

The stack of plywood

In fact every surface in the loft is wood for this reason. It was easy to work with and it will finish well. We will be coating it with a polyurethane.

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Insulation in the loft.

Insulation in the loft.

It was fun to work with the wood. The rest of the house will have drywall, which is not so fun to work with.

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We bought a half circle window at Restore for the south facing wall.

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The vent for the bathroom and laundry goes through the loft wall, so we had to complete that part of the plumbing before we could finish the walls.

 

Vent

Vent

The floors are pine carsiding. The pine is a little soft but we don’t expect heavy traffic in the loft.

Carsiding on the floors

Carsiding on the floors

We still need to install the outlets. There will be an LED light strip along the peak of the ceiling. I think it will make a cozy sleeping place.


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Electrical

It’s hard for me to photograph what is going on lately. We have been installing electrical and plumbing. It is mostly Larry working and me standing by to help pull wire or hold things. It is time consuming work that takes a lot of planning ahead. In the end, it is all behind the scenes so a lot of work goes into something that is mostly unseen.
We like to have lots of lighting options, in the kitchen we have recessed lights, a ceiling fan with lights, and we have outlets above each beam so we can have lights on the beams or under the cabinets later.

The recessed lights in the kitchen

The recessed lights in the kitchen

recessed lights in the kitchen

recessed lights in the kitchen

Outlets for the bath and laundry were fairly straight forward. But in the kitchen it is complicated by the fact that the eventual configuration of this room will be different from it will be at first. At first the kitchen will also be our living space, so we are compacting all the appliances and counter space on one wall. But later we will have both walls for the appliances and counter. So outlet heights and locations need to work for both configurations.  I don’t think we’ve missed anything, but time will tell.

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Wires for future outlets

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We also installed outside lighting, in the eaves and at the back door. We are including switches for the light at the shed and a switch for the lights in the screen house, which we have not built yet.

Eave lights

Eave lights

In fact, many of the switches have planning for future lights and locations that don’t currently exist. We are putting lights on three way switches so that when we build on, lights can be turned on from the other end of the house.

We also ran a wire for a future doorbell at the back door. It’s not needed now, if someone is at the back door now, we are going to know it…right now the house is basically just one room. But when the house gets larger we will want a doorbell.

Larry is working on the breaker box, thankfully, all the wires are labelled.

wires in the basement

wires in the basement

Hopefully we have planned well enough.


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A pause in the action

We reached the point where the next thing to work on would be plumbing…so we decided that if we were going to take a vacation to see distant family this was the time…before water in the house would need to be dealt with. So we took a couple of weeks off to visit the Northwestern US.

An important part of the journey we are on is to cherish family and friends. It is easy a midst  the daily struggle to get ahead and accomplish goals to forget that the real reason we are here is to love family and friends.

One of our daughters lives in Seattle and we don’t get to see her and her husband nearly as often as we would like. We also have good friends in Washington and Oregon, so we decided that it was time to road trip.

It takes roughly 30 hours to drive to Washington state from Missouri. The countryside is beautiful. It is easy to forget how vast and diverse this nation is when you fly over it in just a few hours. Amazing fields of grain and pastures of cattle and sheep, unending desert landscapes, and overwhelming, stunning mountains with lush green valleys greeted us.

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Driving through

Driving

Driving through the Rockies

Driving through the Rockies

Seattle is a great city. We took ferries out to the islands, took a Segway tour through West Seattle and went to a dog park on Puget Sound for the sunset.

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Seattle

Seattle

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Larry and I both agreed that lunch at the Space Needle was the best.  Don’t be put off by the cost, on a clear day it is worth every penny.

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Space needle

Space needle

We drove along the Oregon coast and ate lunch at a floating restaurant.

Seafood on the water

Seafood on the water

It was a little out of our way but a visit to Sequoia National Park was a bucket list item for me. We drove through rain from Oregon all the way to Fresno. All that rain was snow in the mountains and at first it seemed like we wouldn’t be able to make it to the park, many roads were closed. But the park was open if you had tire chains. In the space of half an hour, we drove from sunny lemon and orange groves up into mountains with 27 inches of snow on the ground.

Chains can be rented.

Chains can be rented.

So we visited the largest living organisms on the planet. These trees have been growing for thousands of years. Instead of letting disasters like fire and severe weather deter them, they have developed ways to take advantage of them. Fire helps the seed cones open so new trees can grow.

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Giant Sequoia trres

Giant Sequoia trees

We picnicked and enjoyed one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. As we were leaving the park, this lovely gentleman delighted us by posing for some photos.

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Deer

Happy New Year! May your journey be full of opportunity and delight.