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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Light My Fire

Saturday marked a milestone for the kitchen remodel; we officially have a completely functional kitchen!  That is right people – every appliance, faucet, drain, and cabinet is working perfectly. As previous posts have informed you, we were only waiting on our stove to be complete. We had to hire someone to set-up the stove.  I normally would not include a post about another person work – but the stove hook-up is indeed a story.

I have alluded to our gas stove in previous posts, but have not given much detail. Our neighborhood does not have a gas line running through it. Therefore, when we decided to get rid of our electric stove and buy a gas stove, we were committing ourselves to supplying the stove with gas. It is fairly common for people who are unable to receive natural gas through a pipeline to invest in a propane tank. After a ton of research (and a little calming of nerves on my part), we decided a gas stove was worth buying a propane tank. Neither of us like cooking with on electric stoves and having a gas stove in the neighborhood will make us stand out in the real estate market.

On Saturday, our propane tank providers came to install our propane tank and hook up our stove.  Previously, we had the indoor piping completed so the company believed it would be a very easy job. The stove we bought has the ability to function with both propane and natural gas. Its default was natural gas which meant it needed to be “converted” to propane. Our propane providers said they could also do the conversion.

The Propane Man (not sure what else to call him) arrived around 8:30 am on Saturday.  He did not leave until 1:45pm.  He was working WAY longer than he was supposed to.  According to him – LG stoves have “a million screws” which made the conversion take so long.  In addition, when the indoor piping was completed, they did not leave the pipe long enough to reach the stove. It reached the stove when it was up against the wall, but there is no way to connect the pipe when the stove is up against the wall!  So Jim ran to Home Depot to get extra piping for the guy.

Everything seemed to be working and going well.  The Propane Man was putting together everything he took apart from the stove in order to convert it to propane gas. Then he came to tell us he could not get the oven door back on. Hm. Jim went to go check it out. Having complete confidence in my husband, I figured the guy must be reading something wrong and Jim would have it back on in no time. A little while later, Jim tells me to call LG – uh oh. After Jim, myself, and the Propane Man struggled with both the LG operator and the oven door for about an hour, we managed to get the door back on. Phew.  After a long and stressful morning, our oven was officially working.

Pretty stove!


Look how cool it is inside; it is blue!!




There is a griddle that goes on top of the stove! Pretty awesome

Due to an already booked weekend, we did not make our first meal on the stove until Monday evening.  Jim’s parents came over to join us for our first meal in the new kitchen. It was delicious – if I do say so myself. I love our new stove.  Not only does it work and look great but it plays a little tune when the oven is done preheating. It also TELLS me how hot the oven is while it heats up!  A-m-a-z-i-n-g.

First meal cooked using the stove!


Creamy pesto pasta with shrimp! Yum

Almost exactly 4 months to the day (demolition Oct 10), our kitchen is working again.  Bye bye frozen meals and take-out food, I’m ready to cook!


Handle This

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As Jim worked vigilantly on bringing water to our kitchen, I decided to make myself useful by adding handles to our cabinets.  We ordered knobs for the cabinets doors and pulls for the drawers.  I needed to drill holes before I could screw the knobs and pulls into place.

In order for the placement of the knobs to look good,  I needed to find the center of the corner of the cabinet door (follow that?).  Luckily, all the cabinets’ corners are the same measurement, just either on the right or the left. So I made two templates for the hole to be drilled and just taped it up for each cabinet door.  It took me more time lining the template up perfectly than actually drilling the hole – being a perfectionist can be time-consuming.

Picture of my template

Nicely drilled hole


The pulls were not so simple. To begin with, there were two holes that needed to be drilled for each pull. The holes needed to be exactly the same difference from the center of the drawer so the pull would be centered. We also have a variety of lengths and widths for each drawer. This meant I needed to remeasure for every pull. I made a template for the distance between the two holes so I would not need to measure that. This was surprisingly time-consuming. It also did not help that we do not have a regular ruler, so I was making templates with measuring tape and measuring tape does not like to go flat against paper. After all the holes were drilled, I went to start screwing in the pulls. Unfortunately, our drawers have a piece of wood that juts out inside of the drawer. This adds length and therefore the screws that came with the handle were too short!  I decided to pick up some longer machine screws the next day at Home Depot (seriously, Home Depot should be paying us for how often I mention them in this blog). I brought along my original screw. I used Home Depot’s screw block to figure out the thread I needed for my screw. I needed #8-32 and estimated about 2 inches for the length. After buying the screws, I tested them out on the pulls and they were just a little too long.  Shoot.  I quickly returned to Home Depot ready to buy the 1 3/4 inch screws and the 1 1/2 inch screws just in case. When I got to Home Depot, I saw only 1 1/2 inch screws. I was in a hurry so I decided that would have to do.  They didn’t.  They were just too short.  I needed 1 3/4’s.  Later in the evening, on my third trip to Home Depot, I found out that was an unusual length for machine screws and they didn’t carry them. Doh.  The man told me to try a hardware store – is Home Depot not a hardware store?  The next day I took a trip to Ace Hardware. After a lot of searching, they too confirmed they did not carry this type of machine screw. They ordered me a special box just to call me the next day to tell me they did have the screws, they just couldn’t find them the day before.

So it was Wednesday before all the pulls were done.  I needed to drill holes a little wider in order to accommodate the pulls – my template proved to not be fool-proof but it all worked out in the end.

I forgot to take pictures of the templates for the pulls – probably because I was so focused on the measuring.

These drawers were especially annoying to measure out - but they are so pretty now!

Knobs and pulls

In addition to completing the handles on the cabinets – Jim has been adding another finishing touch; the quarter molding!  This has taken a lot of time and patience. There is a lot of measuring and calculating angles on where the quarter molding will meet. He has also had to deal with the vent in the toe kick (which doesn’t allow for quarter molding) and also the toe kick itself (which comes out a little bit on the edges).  Jim decided to have the quarter molding go around the vent. He also decided to cut into the toe kick in order to allow the quarter molding to continue smoothly. It is hard to make sense of this with words – so I will let the pictures do the talking.

Cabinet before the quarter molding

With the quarter molding - so pretty!

Quarter molding around the vent - nice close up of the tile too!

View of the molding going into the toe kick - it is hard to tell that Jim cut into it so it would be smooth

Another view

Jim also added outside corner molding to the island. This really added a finished look to the island.  It is something you don’t realize is missing until it is there. Now the island looks great.

The outside corner molding - so professional looking!

The wine rack also had its finishing touches completed.  Jim added the toe kick to the wine rack.  Since he designed and created the wine rack, he had to also create the toe kick.  It fits seamlessly with the rest of the toe kick so you would never know it wasn’t part of the rest of the cabinet.  We also ordered wicker baskets for the shelf on the wine rack.  We are going to keep our wine openers, corks, and other knickknacks in these. Another productive week in the Mai Household!

Wine rack complete - now we just need to fill it with bottles!

Joe Plumber

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My parents have this thing in which after someone does something, they would call them “Suzy [insert noun here]” or “Joe [insert noun here].” For example, my mom fixes a squeaky door, so my dad says, “Aren’t you just Suzy Fix-it?” Or my Dad says something about how taxes should be raised, so my mom would say, “Look at you, Joe Liberal.”  Get it?  Maybe not – but I grew up hearing it all the time so sometimes I think that way too. That is the story behind this post’s title; not Joe the Plumber. After this post, you will see why Jim could be “Joe Plumber.”

This weekend, Jim tried his hand with a new trade – plumbing.  As you may have seen in the previous post, our new kitchen sink was installed with the counter tops last week.  We could have paid the counter guys to do the plumbing as well, but why spend the hundreds of dollars on a plumber when you can buy “1-2-3 Plumbing” at Home Depot for $14?

After a few days reading the plumbing book before bed, Jim was ready to give the sink a shot. The plumbing of our kitchen sink required attaching two drains (it is a double sink), a garbage disposal, and the dishwasher. There are many different of options of pipe hook-ups and a variety of ways to make all the pipes drain to THE drain (I am at a lost of words here – I do not know plumbing terms well so please forgive me for my repetitive language). There is no “one way” to set up the pipes. Jim drew a diagram of what we needed the pipes to do and we went to Home Depot to search for the pipes to fit the diagram (I wish I took a picture of the diagram but I didn’t).

Jim debated over the right size pipes and connections as I wandered and found the dishwasher water line. After much thought, we were on our way to working drains and running water. Plumbing is really a one man job. There is only so much space under the sink. I helped Jim whenever I could – dumping water in the sink, looking for leaks, etc – but in reality, Jim did it all solo.  Hooking up the pipes were relatively easy. We used Teflon tape which helped secure the pipe connections from leaks. Jim’s diagram helped him get the pieces in the right order. There was one little leak, but Jim quickly fixed it up.  By late afternoon on Saturday, we had working drains and garbage disposal in place!

Before plumbing - Jim secured the faucet in place

"Waste King" - the garbage disposal in the process of being hooked up

Pipes hooked up for both drains!

We needed to attach the drain baskets too!


We did have one minor issue on Saturday. While researching what to hook-up in regards to the dishwasher, Jim found that we needed an air gap. An air gap prevents contaminated water from backing into the water supply.  You probably have seen these before and didn’t know what they are.

Here is a picture of an air gap I found online


The problem with air gaps is that they come up through your counter. Since we don’t have a granite hole cutter anywhere, we weren’t sure what to do.  Luckily, the wonderful people we got our counter tops from told us they could come Monday and put an extra hole for the air gap free of charge!  So the dishwasher would have to wait for Monday – but the problem was solved.

On Sunday, Jim got to work connecting the water supply. He attached the valves to the supply pipes and then the faucet to the valves. Before we knew it, we had water! After the water was working, we moved the dishwasher into place.  We set the water supply line and drain line in place, but did not do anymore work because we had to wait for the air gap. We had a productive enough day and headed to our friends’ place for a Super Bowl party.

The valves for the hot and cold water


When the counter top guy came on Monday, he told us through his thick Turkish accent that we didn’t need an air gap since our sink was under mounted. We had not heard this before. He was very sure of himself. We told him we were worried it was against the code. He convinced us it was not. After a little back and forth – it was decided he would come back if the permit inspector failed us and had a hole, but until then – we would go without.  Since we no longer had to wait for the air gap to be installed – Jim finished hooking up the dishwasher. We put our first load of dishes in Monday night and it worked perfectly! It is so quiet, we forget that it is even running.   When I went to empty the dishwasher, I never thought I could be so happy unloading a dishes.  We have clean dishes in our cabinets again!  I have been gradually doing a load of dishes a day so that everything we have been storing in the basement the past few months are spic ‘n span before we use them.

Drilling a hole for the drain pipe and water supply pipe for the dishwasher

Beautiful and modern dishwasher!

So there you have it, Jim is a mighty fine plumber.

“If You Got Problems, Yo I’ll Solve It…”

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The past few days have been both rewarding and infuriating for us.  The kitchen is really starting to look like a kitchen which is amazing. Yet a step that should have been simple and painless turned into a three-day long nightmare.

Since the tile is all set, we are now able to put the new appliances in place.  Each appliance takes some set up; unfortunately it is not as easy as just pushing them into place. We decided to put the refrigerator in place first. We had already been using it and the only thing we needed to do other than plug it in was connect the ice line.  I wrote about our adventure moving the ice line here.  Since we already had our pretty valve set up in place, this should not be too difficult.

Before we moved the refrigerator in place, we adding the molding on the wall to give it a more finished look. We also put  new quarter molding. We did the same for behind the stove. Even though these places will rarely be seen, it is still important to add the finishing touches. We did a quick paint job and then got started on moving the refrigerator.

Jim had a copper coil and compression bolts and nuts to connect the refrigerator to the ice line. All it takes is attaching the copper coil to both valves.  The attachment needs to be TIGHT. If there is just a little space in the connection, the valves will leak.  After a few tests, we had both ends in place – tight enough that there were no leaks.  We tested the water dispenser and it worked!  Woohoo! Now all we had to do was move the refrigerator up against the wall.  Jim was in charge of leading the copper tube gently back into a coil while I was in charge of slowly pushing the refrigerator (it is on wheels – I am no Wonder Woman here). It was going well, but one time the refrigerator moved faster than I planned and Jim moved the tubing a little too rough and all of a sudden, there was a leak – well two leaks, one at each valve. UGH.  So we pulled the refrigerator back out and Jim got to work replacing the compression bolts and nuts so they were back to being tight.  This did not work as we hoped. Before long, we were out of bolts and nuts. It was already after 10pm, so a run to Home Depot was out of the question. We would have to finish up Tuesday night.

Jim tightening the bolt to the refrigerator line

No first

The copper coil connected (you can see the molding and quarter molding we added here too)

The valve looking nice...if only the leaks stayed away

On Tuesday, we got to work right away.  Since it was a nice day, we worked installing the microwave vent first. I will tell you more about that in a little. After the microwave was in place, we had dinner and refocused on the refrigerator.  Since we were just reconnecting the valves – it should be no big deal.

Well – the tightening of the nuts and bolts on the valve on the wall was adding a lot of pressure to the valve. This is where the ice line is connected – behind the drywall. We had the new copper coil hooked up but we were hearing water. A sound we had not heard the day before. It was coming from behind the wall. Jim screwed a small hole in the drywall just to check if there was a leak. There was.

Before we knew it, a 16” by 15” hole was in our beautifully painted drywall. Water had gone everywhere – including dripping out of the hole we cut in the basement ceiling in order to connect the ice line. Jim dried up the inside of the walls and fixed the leak. Now back to connecting the copper coil to the now dry valve.

While holding the valve in place (no more letting it move), we tried connecting the coil. We had done this many times already – but for some reason, it was not working this time. We would get the bolt on about halfway and it would jump the thread. We tried many different bolts. Nothing would work. We concluded the valve’s thread had been destroyed from all the former tightening of bolts. We needed a new valve. Today was not our day.

The new hole...and no longer useful valve

Wednesday, Jim got home from work early so he could start working on the ice line. He bought a new valve and got started hooking it up.  The valve on the wall has 4 different connecting points with the copper tubing. That means there are 4 potential points where leaks can occur. For a few hours, Jim killed himself tightening the connecting points. No matter what methods he used or how hard he tried, there was always at least one leak in the valve. It was hopeless. Jim gave me a scenario – we call a plumber or run a new ice line that will directly connect to the refrigerator (our current ice line was too short to reach the refrigerator). Both options made me cringe. In case you missed the ice line post – go back and check out how difficult it was for us to run the original line. It was no easy task. Neither of us wanted to try that. A plumber would be a hefty cost for something we may be able to solve on our own. I asked if there was any way we could just connect the two copper tubes directly without a valve. That way it would just be like extending the tubing we have in place and we would not have to re-run the tubing. Jim researched and found out that was a possibility. That led to another Home Depot trip.

Luckily, after many headaches and much heartbreak – we were able to connect the valves. We did not just want a wire sticking out of the wall, so Jim thought of using an outlet cover. Jim also secured the tubing inside the wall and on the refrigerator so it would not be able to move easily. We cut out new drywall to fix our new hole in the wall.  We finishing replacing the drywall and repainting Friday and carefully moved the refrigerator into place. So far, so good!

The two copper tubes connected and secured inside the wall

A clean connection to the refrigerator

New drywall in place...

Jim creating a spot for the outlet cover

Complete! Paint and outlet done

Connection before we moved it

Up against the wall - no leaks!

The second appliance we installed was our Under Cabinet Microwave. Jim wanted to have the microwave vent outside instead of just blowing air into the room. Therefore, we needed to cut a hole in the wall and house so a vent could be placed. When installing insulation, we planned for this hole and left no insulation in the wall at that point. Jim cut the hole in the drywall and all that was left was cutting a hole on the outside of the house. Jim borrowed a huge ladder from our neighbor and got to cutting (this is why we wanted to get this done when it was 60 degrees in January). It went pretty smoothly. Next, we hung up the microwave.  We needed to hold the microwave in place while screwing it into the cabinet above. It took us a few tries to get everything perfect.  Once the microwave was in place, Jim installed the vent outside. He added silicon to seal any holes from rain and outside elements. Voila – we had a new microwave!  We even used it to make our frozen dinners that night – sweet.

Hole cut for the vent and support for the microwave is secured

Vent ready to be put in!

Jim cutting a hole in the house!

Oh hello outside

Putting the vent in - we lost the sunlight

Sealing the vent with silicon

The microwave wiring all neat in the cabinet

Working Microwave!

Wednesday brought us a lot of joy. Not only because we finally got the refrigerator line working, but because we had our COUNTER TOPS INSTALLED. We had beautiful granite put into place. The counter top guys also under mounted our sink and cut holes in the counter for our faucet. All of a sudden, our kitchen looked like a real kitchen.  In fear the stove might not fit in the allotted space, we moved the stove into place between counter tops. It JUST fit. Everything looked perfect. I am still waking up in the mornings and staring at disbelief that this is our kitchen.  The end is in sight!

We moved our kitchen table back in place and took advantage of our countertops by putting things like the toaster in place. Get ready readers – there will be a fully functioning kitchen any day now.

View of the counter tops!

Another view of the kitchen

Kitchen table in place

The island!

Look at our beautiful, big sink! (faucet isn't secured - that's why it is hanging a little)

Another view of the kitchen