Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One percent away from completion

The exterior screen doors actually arrived yesterday, just after I'd written the day's entry. SS2 will be here later on to install them. He was here this morning to reattach something in the hallway bathroom that the Architect had pulled off the wall by mistake some time ago (!) and also to investigate the non-functioning lights.

We also had part II of a visit from the tub refinishers, who have been working on the guest bathroom tub. I just took a peek. It looks perfect. I guess we shall have to see what happens, as it looked perfect after the last attempt at sealing it. Did I mention that the refinishing stinks?

I had a quick meeting with the Landscape Designer. We had a delivery of another 30 or so plants this morning and she was here to place them out before planting. I pointed out that the pool cover still isn't closing properly and that a stone has fallen out of the walkway by the guest bedroom. She tells me that the grass is forecast to be laid this week.

Our neighbors started their demolition preparation this morning. They actually managed to have a piece of equipment I'd never seen before, and I thought I'd seen it all. (I had to stand on a chair next to the fence to look over and see it. Nosy neighbor, moi?)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Can't Get Enough of That Outdoor Living Thang

I've been spending money again. Today I ordered another extending patio table - this one extends to 130", a full 20" longer than the last one - with six chairs, a 10' by 13' rectangle patio umbrella (in taupe Sunbrella fabric), and an umbrella stand capable of stabilizing 70lbs of weight. As the umbrella is custom made, it won't be ready for about four weeks (i.e. the end of the summer), but the table and chairs will be here next Tuesday. This will give us dining capacity for 22, which is about what we need.

I've also sent my three old teak chairs - purchased about 13 years ago in England - to the patio furniture vendor to be refinished to their original brown color.

Meanwhile, back at the outdoor kitchen, the appliance guy was here again today to tweak the warming drawer, which is now straight in its space.

Inside the house, SS2 was here this morning with Dave the Bath Vendor, who started refinishing the tub in the guest bathroom. It stinks.

Remaining items:

The House:
- two exterior lights are not working.
- screen doors will be coming in about 10 days
- one sliding screen door is loose on its track

The Garden:
- still some plants on site needing to go in
- waiting for some plants to arrive, most notably two espaliered mandarin orange trees for the fence
- grass to be laid in the back
- mulch to be added everywhere
- landscape lighting to be installed (waiting for lights to come)
- the pool cover is still not closing properly every time (small gap on one side)
- pool light is not working, and different subcontractors are currently blaming each other
- mastick around the pool
- cleaning and re-sealing of the stone patio(to combat the redwood staining)
- doors under the outdoor kitchen sink need adjusting (one has sagged)
- fence repair where a couple of planks have fallen down
- creation of gate next to the office, for the "dog run" area
- a stone has fallen out of the hardscape and needs to be glued back in

Sunday, July 11, 2010

House Party

As we grind to the close of the project, the blog postings are becoming less frequent. There just isn't so much to say.

(Which is a good thing.)

On Saturday we invited our good friends over and grilled far too much food on the outdoor kitchen. There were 20 of us. The kids splashed in the pool - in fact, so much splashing that we had to top the pool up this morning - while the adults grilled, drank and ate.

The menu was simpler this week: ginger and honey ribs, Kosovan mushrooms, and salmon in cream shallot sauce (from the recipe book); with grilled pork chops, halloumi cheese and sweet pepper kebabs, sausages, Piazza's finest hamburgers (really good, but very big); and a green salad, a corn salad, and a tomato/mozzerella salad; bread and fixings; rounded off with a bottle of champagne to commemorate the first time all our British friends had been over.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another Final Inspection Passed

Today is a good day.

The city planners were here today to do the final inspection on the outdoor kitchen, and we passed (though only because Site Supervisor II made a last minute cover for the sink, which the hardscaping guys hadn't got round to doing).

The exterior lights are all in. I'll check over the weekend that they're actually working.

SS2 had a major triumph yesterday with the kitchen skylights. The operable windows now open and close and the six blinds do all the various things they are supposed to do (up, down, tilt, etc). I also got a nice thank you card from SS2's wife for a book I sent home with him for his kids: "Fix-It Duck" by Jez Alborough. In the book, the cack-handed Fix-It Duck has to repair a skylight in Sheep's caravan. It seemed all too appropriate for the long-suffering SS2 (though that's not to say that he is cack-handed, far from it!).

The landscapers are still here planting. I think they'll be done with that today, and then tomorrow morning they'll be here to start on the landscape lighting.

And I just received delivery of our new garden furniture: extending table, two benches, dining chairs (should have been six, but one was damaged so they took it away for replacement), a rocking chair, and a sling chair. Looks nice. Now we have to decide what to do with all the rest of the furniture!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Inaugural Barbecue

Welcome to week 35, and Happy Independence Day! Which is always a curious time for those of us from the Old Country, especially since many of our children are American. As usual, we ex-pats gathered together to enjoy the great British pursuits of barbecue, swimming in the outdoor pool, and beer drinking. Well, I guess one out three isn't bad.


Today provided an excuse for the first use of the new outdoor kitchen. Next weekend we have the whole set of ex-pat friends over - that'll be 26 people in all - so we thought we'd have a good go today when there were only 11 of us. I bought Hubby a new grilling cookbook at William Sonoma ("Planet Barbecue" by Steven Raichlen) and selected a number of recipes for us to try, making sure that we used the rotisserie grill, of which our friend Richard had been very scornful...

The menu included:
- Santa Maria Tri-Tip (beef)= Californian recipe
- Ginger, Garlic and Honey Grilled Back Ribs (pork) = Cambodian recipe
- Grilled Tofu with Chile Peanut Sauce = Malaysian recipe
- Grilled Bananas = Colombian recipe
- Caramelized Grilled Pineapple = Brazilian recipe
- Rotisserie Onions = Brazilian recipe

We also had salads made by our friends, a summer pudding made by Deep Thought, cup cakes made by a friend's daughter, plain grilled chicken,
"British Bangers", and tofu burgers. (One family visiting us today is vegetarian.)

When the guys started, the grills were pristine and shiney. Now they look about 10 years old. What can I say: "Man, He Make Fire." Hubby will need to be out there tomorrow morning with a big, big bucket of soapy water to scrub it all down. One good thing is that we have a lot of leftover meat (intentionally), so we won't need to cook so much this week.

Here's a picture of Hubby reading the cook book. It seems to be upside down, which may account for some of the anxiety and high tension around the cooking process.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Everything in the Garden is Almost Lovely

The landscapers have been here all day, planting out front. They won't be here on Monday because it is a public holiday. They are pretty close to having planted everything that is on site. A large lilac bush is sitting under the redwoods, and I'm not sure where that is meant to go; and we are still missing a few items. But it is coming on well.

I'm still not sure that it will be finished in time for us to host a proper party before the end of the summer. Once the lawn is laid, we'll have to stay off that for a couple of weeks.

Our garden furniture, ordered yesterday, is being delivered on Monday (despite the holiday). Impressive service. I just hope the furniture is equally impressive.

Friday, July 2, 2010

No More Touch Ups

The head painter was here yesterday and is here again this morning. Yesterday his crew finished painting the front wall and all the touch ups needed around the exterior. Today he is here inside doing the last few little touch ups on the walls and cabinetry. We have, for example, another sharpie line bleeding through one of the kitchen walls that he has just sealed and repainted.

This is a major part of the project brought to completion. Woo hoo.

Today I also ordered new garden furniture: an extending table that seats up to 12, six chairs, two benches, a rocking chair, and a sling chair. They should be shipped on Tuesday next week.