February weekend

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It has been a slow weekend. Both Ben and I have been fighting a cold since Friday. Neither of us is completely knocked out, but we are certainly not feeling up to a super busy weekend.

The boys and I are working on upgrading the game loft – in preparation for Will’s birthday party in two weeks. Over the past two weeks I built a counter using some oak flooring that I brought back from St. Louis years ago. The party will be a gaming party, so we needed the counter to set up the computers on. We also made a Craigslist gain of four bar stools that are a surprisingly good match.

The new bar/counter in the play loft. The computer monitors need a bit of cleaning.

I still have some work to do before the party. I have to add wiring for the computers and two more overhead lights. In the long run we need to finish insulating the space and finish the walls and floor. But who knows how long that will take to finish…

Izzy, playing with her Mom’s iPhone.

Deconstructing a swimming pool

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We had a busy weekend so far. We are catching up on chores – Susanna and Izzy were sick most of the week. And I’ve been falling behind on the small chores. In addition to small chores, we started helping my uncle take down his pool today – we will move the pool to our yard in the spring. We will have to get a new liner, but we should be able to salvage the rest of the equipment and enough decking to complete the project.

Susanna working on cleaning out water from the old swimming pool prior to taking it down.
Susanna working on cleaning out water from the old swimming pool before taking it down.  Looking good in the boots!

In addition to the swimming pool (which too most of today), I was able to replace the well pressure tank on Friday night. The old tank had a leak in the bladder and required constant refilling of the compressed air in the tank.

With a big yard, it is difficult to get WiFi around the whole property. And with a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old (and two adults that also spend way too much time on the Internet) it was time to update the access point. I ordered an access point that I could install on the exterior of the house and had enough signal strength to cover the entire inside of the house. Getting a good access point (EnGenius ENS1750) makes a huge difference in speed and range.  I got the access point attached and the Ethernet cable run before dinner tonight. I do still need to clean up the wiring in the basement, but that will be for tomorrow.

Tomorrow will involve more yard chores and hopefully some workshop time.

Isabella watching Susanna clean the pool. Clearly very exciting!
Isabella watching Susanna clean the pool. Clearly very exciting!

Storm Damage

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We have (or rather had) two large hydrangea trees in the front of the house on either side of the old stairs down to the road. The northern of the two trees was in pretty poor shape after some storm damage over the last two years, and the wet snow this weekend finished it. So we are left with one large tree in the front of the house.

It is a bummer – the trees provided some privacy on the front porch (with the house being so close to the road. But on the other side, they are large and block the view of the front of the house. So this is an opportunity to redo the landscaping in the front of the house. Susanna and I like the idea of a shrub/tree on either side of the stairs, but we have to pick one that won’t get large and the roots won’t destroy the wall. Does anyone have any suggestions on trees/shrubs?

The front of the house with the remaining hydrangea tree. It is rather large and may be worth taking down in the spring - depending on what we decide to replace the other tree with.
The front of the house with the remaining hydrangea tree. It is rather large and may be worth taking down in the spring – depending on what we decide to replace the other tree with. You can see the broken tree cut up on the right side of the stairs. We will need to fix (or remove) the handrail going down the stairs and do some repairs to the stairs this summer.
Another view of the front of the house. The house is very close to the road, so it limits what we can plant there.
Another view of the front of the house. The house is very close to the road, so it limits what we can plant there.

Getting ready for Isabella (progress on the nursery)

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We have been working on redoing the nursery since Thanksgiving. Today we made a big step. We finished the painting and added the light and switch. Granted, we are still a bit ready for the room to be ready, but at least now Susanna can start decorating it for real (instead of just in her mind). Another bonus is being able to get the furniture stored in the hallway and our bedroom out.

It is nice to get a project finished. Not that it is totally finished, but the part that I was responsible for is done – Susanna had been waiting on me to finish so she could start to decorate. One less project on my list to carry over to the new year.

Tucker enjoying the new room.
Tucker enjoying the new room.

Sunday Morning House Projects

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Will replacing the broken toilet seat with a new replacement.
Will replacing the broken toilet seat with a new replacement.

Today is a little wetter and cooler than yesterday – another good day for indoor chores.

The boys and I went to the store this morning to get supplies for house projects. I was planning on focusing on adding outlets to the nursery. The boys decided to work on project to earn a little extra electronic play time today.

Will choose to replace the toilet seat. The old seat had broken, so he picked out a new seat and replaced the old one. Ben decided to add a wireless doorbell to the house. The previous doorbell hasn’t worked in years, so a new wireless bell seemed like a quick simple project to get off the to do list.  Both boys are getting old enough to help around the house without much supervision.

I was able to make some progress on getting outlets added to the nursery. I’ll have some more work to do in the evenings this week, but I’m feeling good about being ready to drywall next weekend.

 

Starting on the Nursery

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Demolition finished on the interior wall in the nursery.
Demolition finished on the interior wall in the nursery.

The past month or so has been crazy busy. Work has been busy. Weekends have been busy. Too busy. I haven’t had much time to catch up on chores or even relax enough – which of course has put me in a bad mood for the past couple of weeks. And me being stressed and grouchy doesn’t help the rest of the house relax.

Finally this weekend I have been able to get a little time to focus on things at home. Susanna and I have been arguing discussing how much renovation we should do in the nursery. We had originally planned on gutting almost the whole room, but that seemed like too big of a project to finish in time. The minimum work was to put drywall up covering the ceiling. I think we finally agreed that we would gut one wall, cover a second wall (where there is no trim to require us to pull off the plaster) and the ceiling, and just repaint the remaining walls. We also will pull out the carpet and put in a new floor.

The boys and I took down the plaster and lath on the interior wall that we are replacing. The plaster on that wall was in pretty bad shape, so it was best to just replace it. It took us about 2-1/2 hours to demolish the wall and clean up the room.

Tomorrow morning I’ll work on moving an outlet on the north wall and adding new outlets to the (now) demolished wall. Over Thanksgiving we will start drywalling the room.  It feels good to make progress.

Will’s Room Move (Finished)

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Susanna is fighting a cold today, so we didn’t make it as far as I had hoped (i.e. I didn’t get the bookshelves built). But we made the top goal for the day – we moved Will into his new room. He loves it, and it is a much better fit than his previous room. Hopefully we can make his previous room a good fit for us…

The room this morning before moving Will's belongings in.
The room this morning before moving Will’s belongings in.
The room after we completed it. Susanna wound up doing the majority of the work this afternoon. Will helped put up pictures and posters when he got home today.
The room after we completed it. Susanna wound up doing the majority of the work this afternoon. Will helped put up pictures and posters when he got home today.

 

Getting Started on the Next House Project

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This weekend we “broke ground” on the next house project. The end goal of the project is to swap bedrooms with Will and renovate the guest room into a nursery. And since it is inside, it doesn’t actually involve breaking any ground.

The project is really a series of projects and juggling of rooms. It almost asks to be planned out using Microsoft Project. But I won’t. I’ll just think about it.

The first step was to convince Will to move rooms. He agreed in theory when we discussed it this summer, but didn’t seem too excited about it (until tonight). As part of the sell, I agreed to add a light switch to the room and some outlets (and a light to the closet). The goal for this weekend was for me to finish electrical work and for Susanna to clean out the bedroom closet. And we finished ahead of schedule. We finished by dinner last night. I can’t believe we lived in the room for so many years without a light switch and only one outlet. Sometimes I just need the right incentive to get moving on things.

Today we decided to rearrange our bedroom to the layout that Will wants. He wont’ move in this weekend, but he can see what it would look like. Now he can’t wait to move. We even convinced him to get rid of the couch he currently has in his room. He is getting our bed, and it is large enough for Targa to sleep in the bed with him.  I thought it would be difficult to get him to move. It turns out that it will be difficult to get him to wait.

The next step will be to move us into the guest room and Will’s belongings into our room. We will get that done in two weeks. Susanna will move his belongings and I will build bookshelves for his bedroom (they will go in the closet). Once we move him in, the only remaining thing will be to look for a bigger desk for him (eventually).

Once his old room is empty Susanna will paint the room and I will build shelves for the closets. Our plan is to have all that finished by early November, and have our belongings moved into the new bedroom.

Once we finish the room swap, we will gut and refinish the nursery with a goal of being done around Christmas – in plenty of time for Isabella. Anyone interested in helping install drywall?

Why the room swap? Will currently has the largest room in the house – we had the chimney taken out of the room a while ago, so it is now a reasonably useful room. It is also located next to what will be the nursery, so it will be a lot easier if we are near the baby. I also think Will is ready for a room that is a little smaller than his current room. He doesn’t use most of the space in his room, and I think he will be much more comfortable in the new room. And, as of tonight, Will completely agrees.

Finishing up projects

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This weekend I (quite contrary to my ADHD desires) didn’t start any major projects and instead worked on finishing up some smaller ones. I know. Crazy. Finish projects and not start any. What fun is that? But it keeps the wife happy, so that is worth something.

Will's bat house hung on the side of the garage above the loft window.
Will’s bat house hung on the side of the garage above the loft window.

The boys and I added two more shelves to the lumber rack. We brought all the lumber up that was stored under the barn (and wasn’t already on the lumber rack under the barn). That allowed me to clean out a little under the workshop and get the trailer pushed all the way back in.

It was amazing to watch Will and Ben work together to bring up the lumber from under the workshop. Or rather, fail to work together, so each had to drag boards individually. But, I guess that is what brothers are for. Of course I didn’t take any pictures of the upgrades/cleaning so you will just have to take my word that I actually did the project. Susanna even helped by labeling the now-somewhat-organized stacks of lumber. In English and Swedish.

Last week Will and his friend, Morgan, painted the two bat houses that they had made with me a couple of weeks ago. Morgan didn’t have any exterior paint at her house, so both bat houses were painted with the green trim paint from our house and barn. Yesterday Will and I decided to hang his bat house. Will even helped me drag out the tall ladder and set it up. The bat house is high up on the south face of the garage (above the chicken coop). Now all we can do is wait and see if we get tenants.

Today I decided to make a quick spice rack. We have been keeping our spices on the bottom shelf of one of the kitchen cabinets next to the stove. It was a pain to find spices – they were a disorganized mess and one had to dig around lifting up bottles to find the desired spices. I had a few pieces of good plywood lying around, and all we needed was some steps in the cabinet to allow us to find the spices in the back. It took about an hour to cut the pieces to size and mill some sapele for the front edge of the rack. I couldn’t find my wood glue to attach the front edging, so I attached the front with a pair of screws. Anyway, the steps will be hidden underneath the spice bottles when it is filled in. The only reason I chose sapele was that I had two smaller pieces in the workshop and I didn’t feel like going out and pulling out something less expensive. And sapele isn’t really that expensive anyway.

And tonight, instead of cleaning up the workshop, I decided to write in my blog and push cleaning off for another day.

Spice rack installed. The back step is 4" deep for larger bottles. The front two are about 2" deep, with about 2" in front of the rack for a final row of bottles.
Spice rack installed. The back step is 4″ deep for larger bottles. The front two are about 2″ deep, with about 2″ in front of the rack for a final row of bottles.
Spice rack complete with spices.
Spice rack complete with spices.

Organizing the Dog Pen (or Reorganizing the Lumber Pile)

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The lumber pile/junk storage/dog pen prior to reorganization.
The lumber pile/junk storage/dog pen prior to reorganization.

The last bay of the garage/carriage house is a large, unpaved area. For a long time it just served as an overflow storage area and nesting place for a large group of house sparrows. I had added a gate to the  opening so it doubled as a dog pen (in the summer). In the back of the bay I stacked a nice pile of red oak, hickory and maple to air dry. The wood pile wound up being a nice place for Tucker to sit when he got bored staring out the gate and a real pain in the a$$ when I wanted to get a board that was at the bottom of the pile.

A friend of mine is cutting up a large maple tree into slabs and needs a place to air-dry the wood for a couple of months before turning it over to a kiln. We have lots of room, if I just reorganized our stuff a bit. And I just really needed an excuse to build a lumber rack.

I had picked up boards cut from a single oak tree in Ledyard a couple of years ago, and they have been drying in the pile since then. All the other lumber was older and dry. So I could build a proper lumber rack and not worry about keeping the stickers between the rows of boards. Saturday night I headed to the home center and picked up a bunch of construction lumber to build a storage rack.

The lumber rack with most of the wood from the pile stacked on. I have lots of room for additional shelves (to be added one of these days).
The lumber rack with most of the wood from the pile stacked on. I have lots of room for additional shelves (to be added one of these days).

Sunday I emptied the barn and started building the rack. Of course, I found one of the posts for the barn had rotted, so I had a little project detour to replace that. But it wouldn’t be a good project without a few detours.  I had the rack mostly finished by that afternoon.

Yesterday I added the second row of shelving and stacked the remaining lumber from the pile on the shelf. The boys helped me clean and organize the rest of the space.  The next step will be to double up some of the 2x4s on the supports and add an additional shelf or two to help keep the lumber organized.

Today the boys helped carry up a few boards that didn’t fit on the lumber rack under the workshop and were just stacked down there. Okay, I have two lumber racks. I have a problem. I know. I have too much lumber. Of course, if you have a good deal… I’m always looking for more. I wouldn’t want to run out in the middle of a project.

But of course I have plans for the lumber. Though I’m sure I’ll never get around to it all:

  • Hickory: I have a bunch of heavy 8/4 boards that would make a nice workbench even though hickory is a pain to work with and the beams are heavy and a pain to move around. And I already have a functioning antique workbench. But it seems that making a workbench is sort of rite of passage.
  • Red Oak: I have a matched set of boards from a single tree. I was going to make bedroom furniture from it until Susanna said she likes cherry better than oak. So it will be used to make the boys furniture (and I already made night stands for them from some of it). I also have some random non-matched boards floating around. Red oak is way too common here and is usually used just for firewood (it is like it grows on trees almost).
  • Cherry: I have a bunch of cherry that Susanna and I picked up on a road trip to Western Massachusetts a couple of years ago. The cherry is for furniture for us and the house. Anyway, cherry is nicer to work with than oak.
  • Maple: I have maybe 8 boards left that a friend had gotten cheap on Craigslist before he decided that he had too many hobbies to continue making furniture. It is pretty nice spalted maple. I think the boys are going to claim a couple of boards to make Japanese toolboxes this month.
  • White Oak: A bunch of 8/4 and thicker boards. Okay, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it. But white oak is strong and rot resistant, so it may go to outdoor projects.
  • Sapele: A few remaining boards from a stack that had gone to smaller projects and trim on the sailboat.
  • Cedar: A bunch of smaller boards that I really have no idea what to do with.
  • Some random other species: Mahogany (though the plank I have isn’t really mine, I just store it and look at it), Yellowheart, Fir, and I’m sure a few more. The boys keep taking the smaller pieces of wood and re-purposing them into swords and leaving the swords outside until they are no longer usable and become firewood and they need to make new swords.