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DayCreek Journal

September 12 , 2009

The Kitchen is...

The kitchen is for the most part done! The only remaining things to do is to build an in-wall pantry in the center octogon and finish the floor. (The floor will be finished once the rest of the first floor is completed.)

I've now been busy cleaning all the cabinets and taking plates, silverware and other utensils out of mothballs. I've even used the dishwasher a few times. I'm not sure how much use it will get but I'm sure it will come in handy when we have our extravagant socialite dinner parties.

The back-splashes certainly turned out to be a handful. Originally my plan was just to do a straight back splash all the way around the kitchen using 3/4" thick concrete. After making a few pieces, I quickly came to the conclusion that they looked really B-O-R-I-N-G!

I then came up with the brilliant idea of using a 4' x 8' x 3/4" foam board to make all the back splash molds in one fell swoop. The pour went fine, but when it came time to release the back splashes from the foam board, I ended up busting a few pieces. I was using a small putty knife to pry up the back splashes which didn't give them enough support from underneath. (I later learned that a long sheet rock blade for taping sheet rock seems worked much better and prevented them from cracking.)

The breaks occurred in the most vulnerable places where electrical receptacle outlets came close to one of the sides of the back splash—some of which were located just a mere 1/2" from the edge. Since the back splashes were only 3/4" thick, there really wasn't much room for reinforcement. I guess I could have purchased a carbon mesh material which would have helped, but I only had a couple pieces that had to be done over due to a crack.

So...I decided to redo a few of the pieces and that's when I ran into another problem. I rebuilt the forms using the cardboard stencils I had created during the first pour. It was a good thing that I didn't throw them out!

Then it came time to make the mix. Everything went into the mixer as planned, but when it came time to pour the molds, it seemed that the cement was a bit darker in color. As I vibrated the mix into the molds, a brown film formed over the top. After I shouted a few nasty words, I removed all the freshly poured cement from the molds and did a postmortem.

What happened? Did I mismeasure? Nope. If the mix was right, why was their this brown coffee-colored film in the cement? Then it dawned on me. I had used a new bucket of glass sand. I took some of the sand and ran it under the garden hose and a bunch of brown shit came floating to the top. Evidently the glass sand had never been washed and this batch was exceedingly filthy.

I spent the next few hours washing and drying fine glass sand in an effort to fix the problem. To make a long story a bit shorter, that did the trick. A word to the wise: If you are going to used recycled materials, make sure they are clean! I had done this with the glass chips, but it never dawned on me to do the same with the sand. Lesson learned.

I promise to share with you photographs and video in the next journal. I've just got too much going on this week in preperation for Applefest. But as a teaser, here is a close-up of one of the countertops in place:

concrete countertop

A couple of comments to fellow readers of the journal:

1.) The rest of the house isn't done yet, so you won't see any other interior photos of the house other than the kitchen at this stage. I'll be getting to the rest of the first floor this coming fall/winter and as things progress, I'll keep everyone informed. Please understand that I do have other interests besides the house, such as nature photography and of course, my loving wife Jo.

2.) I certainly do appreciate everyone's feedback. I try to answer everyone's emails but if it takes a few weeks don't be surprised. I'm busier now than when I was gainfully employed.

3.) Thanks to everyone who were kind enough to send me emails regarding my computer debacle. Things are back to normal and I thank you for your comments/help.

That's about it for now.

—Alan Stankevitz

For the past few weeks it's been the same weather: Fog in the morning followed by bright sunshine. I thought it would be interesting to watch a time lapse movie of the fog lifting over the Root River. This movie was taken from Hoppel Hill just a few miles from the house looking down over the valley. The time lapse is comprised of images taken over a 1 hour period.