Sunday, July 19, 2015


Hello, again. Remember us?
It's been four months since the last post and it's been really hard to get back into writing.

Besides nothing much going on with the renovation, we lost another family member to cancer. In April, Kevin's sister Molly died from breast cancer. She fought the disease for 30 months and died two weeks before her 49th birthday. We miss her so much….

Over four hundred people joined us in Sonoma on her birthday to celebrate her life and everyone left the event with packets of sunflowers, Molly's favorite flower. We've planted some on Steinback Mountain and will post pictures when they start blooming.

Cancer sucks. And life does go on even without Chip's father and Kevin's sister. In between the tears we try to remember the love and laughter these two shared with us and so many others.

Orange is the new black, door! 
Phase 1 is now officially over. We've paid the contractor in full a few weeks ago and today we finally got around to painting the bathroom door and the exterior door of the guest house.

The orange is a Clark + Kensington paint called "Carnivale in Brazil" and it definitely makes a statement. We also painted the planter next to the door another 50s standby, aqua. It used to be pink but there was no way the pink could compete with the orange.

We're not sure when Phase 2 is going to start. 2016? 2017? We've got all of the materials in storage including all of the tile and finished cabinetry. We just need to "build" the bank account back up. We'll keep you posted….

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Break, Spring Broke

Hello, again. It's been almost two months since the last post and, like the previous post, there still isn't much new to report. It's our Spring Break on campus and we're staying home because we're so house poor that we can't afford to go anywhere. We did get the home equity line approved and funded but things are still going to be tight for the near future. Phase Two is definitely on hold.

We finally installed the shelves in the BBQ room and all but one of the transoms are up so we're about 99% done with Phase One. Last week John delivered the new mantle for the BBQ room and, like everything else he's built, it's really beautiful. We've spent the last few weeks filling the shelves with books and art, and we're very happy with how everything turned out.

So with the week off and nothing but grading that has to be done, we're using our staycation to do a little cleaning up around the place and some gardening. It's been unseasonably warm the last few weeks with one day even in the low 90s. We've gotten to the part of the year where we now leave the front door open all day until we go to bed. And we're spending a lot more time outside. The collard and lettuce greens, kale, basil and tomatoes have all been planted. And we're already enjoying salad greens fresh from the garden.

Note the new gate at the top of the stairs. Maybe we'll get around to painting the guest house door in the next day or two. Orange, teal or chartreuse?

The former Palm Springs outdoor furniture is fitting right in on the new deck.

The transom doors were crafted by John Laughton in the same materials used for the cabinetry. They are a huge improvement over the painted plywood panels that used to be there.

Finally got around to putting a mirror up in the guest house bath. The shower curtain is temporary, eventually we'll be installing a glass shower door.

Eventually, we're going to frame the planters with the corrugated metal sheeting Mike gave us. That'll probably be a summer project...

We found this print on eBay last year. We love how it combines two of our favorite things: northwestern Native American art and MCM classic furniture.

Lovin' the new mantle…

With the warmer weather and longer days, the chickens are in full production mode, back to about two dozen eggs a week. And the citrus trees are about to bloom….

We'll leave you with one last picture of Spring, the Salinas Valley down below Steinback Mountain.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Moving (Stein)back in...

It's been a month since the last post and there's really not much to report. We've had yet another screw up with our bank (long and painful story…) and last week, for the third time, they sent their appraiser out. We still have no idea when, and for how much, our home equity line will be approved. Needless to say, the financing anxieties continue.

Also last week, John and Gary dropped off the bookcases for the BBQ room. They will eventually be connected by shelving that will wrap around the corner walls. The shelving above the back counters were also delivered and are safely being stored in the main house. We have no idea when the contractor will return to finish the cabinetry installation. We're also waiting for the transoms to be installed as both the BBQ room and the guest house have been quite cold recently. Last Saturday we took it on ourselves to temporarily install the transoms for the BBQ room as we were celebrating a belated birthday for Chip with his family that evening. At 9 am we turned on the heated floors and started a fire in the fireplace and by dinnertime the room was nice and cozy. It was the first time we cooked and had dinner in the BBQ room since we started the renovation and, we're happy to report, it's an awesome space for entertaining.

Prior to the big birthday bash we spent a few very long days unpacking stuff from the garage and moving it to the BBQ room and guest house. We now have room to park one car, but there's really only enough room to get out of one of its four doors. Hopefully, that will improve soon.

We may end up having to do a temporary installation of the transoms in the guest house, too, as we're soon to have our first "guests" since the project was (almost) completed. Kevin's college friends Leslie and Mark (and possibly their two daughters) will be driving down from San Francisco to join us for NPR Senior Science Correspondent Ron Stein's visit to our campus for a presentation to KAZU station members. Rob and Mark have known each other since their early college days at University of Massachusetts, Amherst where Mark studied before returning to our alma mater, CSU,Chico. Mark is quite the accomplished illustrator whose work frequently graces the cover of The New Yorker. He recently published Dogs Rule, Nonchalantly which is a must read for anyone who has ever been part of a canine family. Our Catahoula, Jack, gives it an enthusiastic two paws up!

Now that there's furniture once again in the Phase One spaces, it seems like an appropriate time to show some "before and after" pictures. The first reveal: The transformation of the quintessential ManCave into...

…the much more functional and MCMish BBQ room:

The old bar area was fun and funky but it was almost impossible to work behind it. The new area easily accommodates at least two people and there's now an electric range, dishwasher and small fridge. And lots of storage:

We still have lots of 50s barware and kitchen stuff that we brought back from our former house in Palm Springs, including our much loved set of Temporama dishes. We even have a matching set in melmac!

Now on to the second reveal, the very much improved guest house. Remember the mismatched pitched roof and the funky grape stake fence? Gone!

Now a roof that matches the rest of the buildings, a much cooler door and fencing, and a new bamboo deck that almost doubles the size of the back yard:

And now the interior, where the most dramatic changes appear. Remember the old bedroom area with its funky acoustic tile ceiling and two doors leading off to an incredibly small bathroom and cramped closet that barely had space for the bathroom's water heater? Gone!


And the old, kind of scary, bathroom that visitors really only used the sink and toilet…

…is now a spacious space with a great shower and awesome view. Still, no shower door but don't worry Mark and Leslie, we'll have it taken care of by your arrival.

So that's it for now. Hopefully, Bank of America will come through for us very soon. We'll leave you with a photo from last week. We've had some incredible cloudscapes this last month but, unfortunately, almost zero rain….

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deer friends, we're "done"

Today was a big day. We're so close to being done with phase one and today we kind of had to be. We're refinancing the house to pay for the renovation and our bank, a month or so after we applied for the loan, informed us that they we're not going to fund the loan until phase one was finished. That news made things a little scary for a few weeks. Okay, a lot scary….

At exactly 8:30 this morning, the Bank of America appraiser returned to verify that we were, indeed, done. But were we really done?

When Dave, Scott, and the plumber left last night, at least two hours later than they usually leave, they were no way close to being done. Well, Dave and Scott were mostly done, but the plumber still had to complete the installation of the two water heaters in the BBQ room. And there was a lot to clean up.

Thankfully, Dave arrived this morning at 7. Shortly after, Mike and Adam appeared. The three of them quickly got to cleaning and by the time the appraiser arrived, the place was quite presentable. The appraiser assured us that the project only had to be "done enough." He took some exterior pictures, then photographed the BBQ room and guest house. He seemed content that we were where we needed to be, and after no more than 15 minutes on site, he shook our hands and drove away.

Dave left about an hour later. Then Mike left. Keith continued working on the water heaters and Adam vacuumed and mopped the floors. By noon, everyone was gone. So are we done? Apparently, done enough!

The electrical is, in fact, done.

The plumbing is, as of today, done.

The tile work is done except that we're getting a loud and obnoxious humming sound from the floor heating system in the BBQ room. Mark has been called and he assured Mike that it will get resolved soon.

The BBQ room still needs the refrigerator which we plan to purchase in January. The shelves still need to get installed. That, too, should happen in January. Other than that, it's done.

The guest house is done except for the shower door. That will probably happen in January, too.

There's still some touch-up painting to do. Yep, January.

So what to do now that the construction site is no longer a construction site? What to do with all this quiet? It's time to do some grading. That has to be done by January….

So, deer friends, it's time to take a break and enjoy the last few photos for a while. We're done, at least for now….