2017: the Year of the Distractions

I've been mentally writing and rewriting posts for the past month and a half. I'm stuck in my mind on the current shape of politics. I want to write, I want to speak out for my beliefs, yet I still have no words. One day I will have the words, one day I will put them all here.

I understand politics and what is a business-based site will have an effect. I will talk about that, too, I'm sure.

In the meantime, we're working on some big projects. Let me distract you with our distractions.

We've demolished one of the full baths, combined it with the closet from the master bedroom, and are figuring out a plan to redo the bath on a moderate budget. (Ideas abound, continue to be pinned.)  We also bought a vintage camper at a great deal. We've named him Major Tom (....here am I sitting in a tin can...) As is usually the case, the work is more extensive than we'd thought, but hey! Why not 2 major projects all at once? It is, after all, 2017: the Year of the Distractions.

I'd be remiss without mentioning the significance of Martin Luther King Jr Day (today). I was going to put a quote or some sort of image with his words here. I don't think it's fair to distill his work (and so many others) to a Pinterest worthy spectacle. Instead, take a moment to read the lengthy summary of Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? 

Apparently the works-in-progress are far more pervasive than a bathroom redo.

Humongo print

You can see the kitchen progress has been stagnant for a bit. Figuring out the new counter tops put a damper on things then along came round 2 of the stomach flu (this time C had it) and colds for the rest of us. Lucky C followed up the stomach bug with a head cold...so yeah, not much is happening with that.

I did, however, FINALLY get the O'Keefe inspired drawing printed in a humongo size (24" x 36") and framed in a basic walnut frame. I haven't had time to get nice shots of it, but I'm so excited (and dare I say enamored) with it, that I want to show it off. A lot.

The pitter patter of progress

Look! Just for you I created a fun survey where you can tell me which type of column you'd like to see on our house.(Woo hoo! Lucky you!!)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Though I'm not sure this picture says a lot, compare and contrast with this one and see all the work we've done.

Mabel went to Nana's and Paw Paw's so I thought we'd spend the weekend solely working on the columns, getting the project finished. There are, with us at least, certain methods to our DIY madness and sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves about these projects. Money is limited, and it is the facet we most often have to remember.

Despite my hope for a big unveil this morning, we had a budget set aside of less than $80. Most of that ended up going into reciprocating saw blades. We bought a $20 one meant for cutting iron which turned out to be overkill; a $3 blade for thick metal was actually the blade we needed. When you're talking about an $80 project, $23 takes a big cut (no pun intended). It didn't leave us enough to get the wood for the facade of the columns, and we decided to wait to get that wood anyway. For a nominally larger cost, we can get a higher grade board from a local lumber yard rather than from the big box store. A higher grade board will mean less knots and mars, making the finished column smoother and much prettier.

This coming weekend we'll both have paychecks to dole out for the finishing wood and trim, so until then our yard will remain (as one friend deftly put it) one trampoline shy of redneck gold. All of that is to give a glimpse inside how our renovations work: with time, ingenuity, and a little bit of spending money. Oh, and a generous Nana to keep the little one distracted and happy all weekend--essential to success.

It took an entire day to get the iron work down and the 4 x 4 (actually 2 2x4s laminated and screwed together) cores for the new columns up. That "entire workday" happened on Saturday, after I spent 6 hours volunteering at the community garden. My body still hurts.

On Sunday Charlie mended the fence while I built a small retaining wall from some 4 x 4s we had on hand. Having the dogs in the fenced area most of the time, they've created paths where they run laps around the perimeter of the space. That path, even on a gently sloping hill, has created an erosion problem which, in turn, created soil build up around the fence at the bottom of the hill. The soil build up pushed the fence every which way, making it lean and wobble. Once again the fence is perpendicular to the ground and we're already seeing and hearing the pitter patter of progress.

Sunday Projects

When we've got projects we try to find a way to engage the kiddo. She's eager to learn and do what we do, so with a little guidance (and sometimes extra personal reminders to have patience) we give her tasks and she gets involved. Sunday morning she helped make pancakes, then later in the afternoon she helped us inoculate several oak logs with shiitake mushroom spawn.

How many 2 year-olds do you know that can already pad their resume with construction experience, chef's assistant, and mushroom grower?

The $3 (plus the odd scrap or two of building materials) trellis

My oldest brother, Todd, has the gardening itch this year (actually it might be garden pox judging by his scratching) and is converting his front yard to a small farm. I promise to get more pictures of his projects, but first wanted to show off his $3 (plus some bits of building materials he had lying around) trellis.

The basics? taking a 2 x 4 and using a table saw to cut it down into lattice strips, while leaving about 6 - 12 inches at the base uncut. Cut some scrap wood  to create 2 spreaders to fan the boards apart. Todd used screws with scrap pex pipe (cut to about 1-inch lengths) instead of spacers to attach the trellis with wall anchors into the brick facade of his house, but any sort of strong, rigid pipe-like material would work.

We're moving our hops to a sunnier location this year, and a couple of these trellises will help 'em reach for the sky.

Are you planning a garden this year?  Check out this great post that spells it out for the beginner gardener.