2013 Not Resolutions

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  1. Restart GTD Hipster Pocket Book
  2. Cook for leftovers
  3. Workout
  4. Go to bed < 12:30
  5. Dog healing and crisp response to known commands
  6. Bookkeeping up-to-date
  7. Track work activities
  8. Balance volunteer commitments— no laurel resting, skating
  9. Post to DIYnot weekly
  10. Send photos and interesting things to grandparents
  11. Write letters to entities that need to improve something
  12. Take a class
  13. Backup digital information

-Matt

I built this queen sized bed frame last March amid a flurry of pre-baby’s-arrival (Emmett) projects.  

Total cost approx. $125.

Kelly’s criteria: (1) replace a bare-bones steel bed frame that wasn’t attractive or stationary, (2) not make the top of the bed be too high, and (3) be solid.

Matt’s criteria: (1) give us more storage (underneath the bed), (2) cost less than an IKEA bed, and (3) not take too long to build (like <8 hours).

Materials: dimensional 4x6”, 2x4”, 1x4”, and 1x10” lumber; lag bolts, washers, various screws, framing nails, and finish nails; felt with adhesive (for underneath legs to prevent scratching the floor)

Tools: Framing nail gun/compressor (I also used a hammer which easily could have been used instead of the nail gun), compound saw, drill, and driver-drill

Key Features: component design for ease of assembly and possible dis-assembly; stout legs recessed from bed edge; **IMHO the legs/support system are slick.

—Matt

Strawberry rhubarb crisp.  It was scrump-didly-umpcious and I had a fun time creating something I never had before.  I was short on butter so while I really enjoyed the crisp part I think the next time it will be better (though I might add a little extra brown sugar).  Anyway, the real highlight is the fruit and I&#8217;m looking forward to mixing in some different ones for future/alternate versions.  Definitely something I want to make again!
-Matt

Strawberry rhubarb crisp.  It was scrump-didly-umpcious and I had a fun time creating something I never had before.  I was short on butter so while I really enjoyed the crisp part I think the next time it will be better (though I might add a little extra brown sugar).  Anyway, the real highlight is the fruit and I’m looking forward to mixing in some different ones for future/alternate versions.  Definitely something I want to make again!

-Matt

Dog Mischief

This photo is actually from a few weeks back when I left a pillow we were getting rid of sitting on the back porch.  It pretty much sums up the past week of good dogs doing bad (or maybe just doggy) things. 

Maybe it’s the rain that seems to never go away as we here in Seattle endure one of the wettest Junes on record.  Maybe it’s the arrival of Emmett and the consequence that the two human parents’ top priority is no longer the dog babies but the actual baby? Maybe it all started with that damn pillow?  Who knows?  It’s been mostly comical so here’s the recount:

Just the other day I was sitting at my desk working away while Kelly and a friend were taking Emmett for a walk and the dogs were exiled to the back yard.  Fortunately I had the window open and heard a whine in the yard.  I darted back there thinking one of Sonny or Max were hurt or in danger. 

As I run outside I see Max, perched at the back gate, and Sonny, nowhere in sight.  Forgetting that just 30 minutes prior I had yelled out to Sonny to quit digging at the fence, I start towards the open back door to the garage thinking Sonny’s probably stuck under a pile of tools, ladders, and baby apparel in the disaster I call my garage.  Before I get there, I realize there’s a reason Max is at the back gate.  Sure enough, there’s a dog sized excavation underneath the fence not far from Max and exactly where Sonny was having such a great time digging shortly beforehand.  Long story short, I and Max run out the back gate and Sonny is nowhere in sight.  Thankfully, after shouting a query to my neighbor about whether he’d seen a Brittany, to which he promptly replied with something like “just the one right in front of you,” and I thought “geez, thanks buddy,” I fortunately turned around to see Sonny high-tailing it down the sidewalk about 200 yards down the street heading for “Who Knows Where.”  Somewhat amazingly, Sonny heard me and thankfully came sprinting back. 

After praising him for coming back, we made it back into our backyard and I promptly gave him a little bit of a “what for” while reacquainting him with his escape route.  Then I dropped a concrete block in the hole, covered it up, and figured this was an aberration and I wouldn’t be needing to dig a 300 ft trench around my fence line to fill with razor wire or concrete.  Well, sure enough, today I caught him digging around my concrete block (which was actually fortunate in that I could correct him while he was actually doing the misdeed).  Maybe this time the connection that digging at the fence brings dad’s ire?  If he isn’t getting the message then I’m going to have a heck of a time figuring out how to electrify a cedar fence given that razor wire and a concrete fence are out of the question :-)

And like a deal on a late night infommercial that includes much more than just the main “can’t live without” product, there is more to this story as well.

This afternoon, after taking the dogs to the dog park for some frolicking, ball fetching, swimming, and walking, we return home for dinner, baths, and for some R&R.  Not too much later I look out and see Max’s nose covered in dirt and see that he’s decided it might be fun to make a new crawl space access for our house!  Do ya think our dogs might need a little more work than they’ve been getting?

And now the cherry on top.  Tonight we were preparing for our first night out to go see one of Kelly’s favorite bands, Mates of State.  Her cousin had just arrived to babysit and the ladies (and me) are going through the Emmett Care Cookbook.  Probably five minutes in, we’re enjoying conversing in the living room and I hear the dog door (in the back door to the house/kitchen) open.  Max is already with us so I know our lead hunter, Sonny, is soon to round the corner from the kitchen into the living room since the baby gate that separates the two rooms isn’t closed.  That part, Sonny coming excitedly in, dancing about in the exhilaration of another unsuccessful hunt, has been replayed about 365 times in the last year and a half since we’ve had him.  Of course this has not been a typical week dog-wise. 

Tonight, he rounds the corner, like so many times, and I exclaim “STAY” to theoretically stop him from tracking mud into the living room.  But unlike the other 365 times, tonight he keeps coming.  And in 1/10 of a second my “stay” command turns to “oh hear it comes, $?^#!, #&((!” as I see the unmistakable 5 inch pencil sized floppy tail hanging from the side of his mouth (wherein the mouse is actually hidden) that he’s bringing me with the utmost urgency and pride.  Once I had the expletives out of my system and the mouse outside I congratulated him in all earnest for a job well done (sincere thanks to Kelly’s cousin for reminding me that he was simply bringing me his treasure he had worked so hard to claim).  

The week is not over so I think the boys will either be in their crates for the next two days or we’ll be going to the sporting goods store to purchase a treadmill for the dogs!  The former definitely won’t fly; and we’d have to DIY ourselves a new annex to the house to fit a treadmill; so in all likelihood, come tomorrow afternoon, I’ll actually be scratching my head trying to figure out how to redirect our mischief makers as I discover the next new behavior they’ve decided is perfect to unfurl during this “special” week.

-Matt

Brunch with friends, dogs went swimming, and the garden project rolled along without me— excellent Mother’s day.  If you’re reading mom(s), we love you and can’t wait to see ya!

—Matt (and Kelly)

Hoop house I built at dusk on a Friday a few weeks ago.  Great way to get the weekend mojo goin&#8217;.  It&#8217;s about 4&#8217;x8&#8217;.  I drilled the horizontal rails and arches where they intersect and zip-tied them together.  With some pretty rudimentary anchors (rocks) the plastic sheeting hasn&#8217;t been blown off, even though our tree blew over!  Basil and artichoke in the pots and some beets and parsnip that I haven&#8217;t cleared out.  I&#8217;ve been keeping our outdoor wireless thermometer inside to keep an eye on the temps.
&#8212;Matt

Hoop house I built at dusk on a Friday a few weeks ago.  Great way to get the weekend mojo goin’.  It’s about 4’x8’.  I drilled the horizontal rails and arches where they intersect and zip-tied them together.  With some pretty rudimentary anchors (rocks) the plastic sheeting hasn’t been blown off, even though our tree blew over!  Basil and artichoke in the pots and some beets and parsnip that I haven’t cleared out.  I’ve been keeping our outdoor wireless thermometer inside to keep an eye on the temps.

—Matt

Do It Together: Community Garden Renovation

This is where I’ve been.  And in the attic; and crawl space; and yard; and garage— you get the idea.  Last September I was asked to participate in the renovation of our community garden (P-Patch).  The year before, forward looking volunteers at the garden had applied for and received a $20k matching grant from the city.  The “match” part requires that an equivalent amount of volunteer hours and donations must be leveraged to receive the full grant (that’s how I understand it anyway). Countless meetings, setting up a Google Site and other information systems, navigating dreams/realities/personalities: now we’re finally building.  What you ask?  Permanent paths and edging (my focus), 22 4x8’ food bank beds, a bamboo garden, a mushroom garden, a hillside of native plants, a children’s garden, a mural, new irrigation, and signage.  I stand in awe what $20k can do with a grippe of willing hands and minds.  

The concept above was created by one of two landscape architects who were hired for the project and who have gone above and beyond their compensation. The LA created the Google SketchUp drawing partly from my team’s initial path design (below)

ASIDE: I can’t say how helpful the suite of Google products has been (and to be fair, Microsoft’s Power Point and Office helped along the way).  But seriously, Google Earth, SketchUp, Sites, Groups, Docs, Spreadsheet/Forms, search, Gmail… Google may be one of several corps taking over the world but as far as this project they’re helping ensure they have a better world to take over.

One afternoon I decided to wield my new SketchUp skills (see mantle project (1) and (2) where I developed them) to weigh in on the design of the raised 4’x8’ food bank beds (inspired by my own).  The Food Bank team decided to use 2x6 juniper stacked three high for a raised height of 18”.  Juniper surfaced as our best alternative for edging the paths and for many of the same reasons it’s perfect for the beds.  It is sustainable, economical, beautiful and generally not easy to come by (more info on Juniper here from the Oregon State University Extension Service).

Here’s the ~1.25 acres that we’re renovating.

I’ve spent the equivalent of a couple days out surveying the paths.  It’s been fun working with others, and by myself, to map out the space.  In the background, with the aid of grant money and donations, several years ago volunteers built the beautiful red timber framed barn and gazebo.  I’ve learned a ton surveying but will have to expound on that later. 

Far into the planning process, we decided to build a prototype for the edging of the block path concept we envisioned.  24 of the 8’ - 6x6” juniper were purchased for hose bib posts.  The rest of the 2x6 and 6x6s were for the first steps we’d take in edging the paths. 

The juniper, especially the 6x6 is gorgeous.  The 2x6s were the last of the lot so they had a lot of character even if too many were not really suitable for our purpose of path edging (the vendor will let us return them and we’re ordering about 800 more of them so it’s not a big deal).

Last Friday I finished the surveying and the next day 50 volunteers dove into trenching 1000s of feet for new irrigation lines, augering post holes for the hose bibs, and laying polypipe.  I had to bow out after the survey to make sure Kelly and I stay on track with pre-baby projects… we are crazy: two more new circuits down and only one old circuit left to replace.  Productive and enlightening days these are.

—Matt

The Wood Whisperer

Recently I was exploring our Tivo’s perk of offering podcast-like content.  The quality is excellent and this show, The Wood Whisperer, was a real find.  I have at least two friends who I consider to be fine wood workers, one professionally, the other as a hobbyist; I don’t at all consider myself to be even near to having such a level of skill.  I’m more of the “see nail, pound it” ilk but as I delve deeper into our projects I’m seeing that one day I’m might step into the light.  Until then, this show (and of course, Tom Silva and Norm Abram of This Old House), are drawing me closer.

Trimming out our windows and building the mantle were baby steps for me.  Sometimes I feel like I’m speaking first year spanish when it comes to woodworking/carpentry terminology so tonight I decided to solidify a few vocab words.  Here’s the back of one of my GTD hipster pocketbook notecard drawings that I filled in the blanks on:

And here is the Anatomy of Window Trim drawing (from This Old House) that taught me what words I was actually looking for:

Anatomy of Window Trim, source: This Old House

-Matt

Mantel Photos

Starting at the end and working backward.  I finished building the majority of our mantel the other day.  I used Google’s free application, SketchUp, to crystallize the final design.  The original mantel looked like this:

Kelly came up with the idea to replace our old oil furnace with a highly efficient Mantis gas fireplace.  When we decided it was the right thing to do, we also rearranged the whole living room.

Once we improved the living room layout, part of which involved purchasing a flat screen, I proceeded to build a structure around the old brick chimney/fireplace. I didn’t mention it when I posted about building the structure how I tied into the wall framing and the mantle top.  I basically screwed 2x4 legs into the wall framing.  The legs each incorporated two 2x4s tied together in an L-shape with some 1/2” plywood to give me enough room to run 2x4 horizontals across the front of the chimney.  Then I built a couple of rectangles out of 2x2s so that any plywood facade could be tied into framing.  Here’s what I started with the other day:

Next, I used 18 gauge 1” nails (as I recall) to attach bead board and some finish grade plywood to the sides and top center of the mantle.  I had a good supply of bead board I had purchased during the summer for prototyping the exterior soffit (but then abandoned using bead board thus leaving me with a surplus of 1 1/2 4x8’ sheets) so I decided it would help distinguish the columns I was envisioning on the right and left.  Here are some links to the soffit project (my post; Kelly’s post) and looking back I see that we need to post the final caulked and painted photos because the finished version looks really good.

Taking down the mounted TV was a definitely a 2-3 person task but I managed to not throw out my back or make a $900 mistake when I brought it back down off the wall.  Ever since I had mounted the TV I had been a bit nervous about it not crashing off the wall so getting it down and knowing I was going to build a much stronger backing was a real motivation for getting this project underway.  Once the TV was down there was no going back because God knows we couldn’t survive another day without watching The Closer :-).

Here I have the 3/4” cabinet grade plywood fastened to the wall with screws and 12 gauge nails.  I’ve started nailing in the MDF 1x6” across the top of the mantle and on the base, 1x4” and 1x3” legs on the left column.

Before I attached the legs, I had to build out from the 2x2 and 2x4 structure at the edges around the fireplace flange so that I would have a single plane to attach the MDF.  When I previously fastened the plywood, I left a buffer of about 1/2” so that I wouldn’t have to cut the plywood perfectly so that it would be flush with the outside of the mantle and the inside (near the flange).  I ripped down (using my table saw setup) some MDF 3/8” strips to get me close to the plane I wanted.  This helped me get flush in three dimensions (with the plywood and into the fireplace opening with the plane of the 2x2s).  It’s hard to see but when your strips are very small, MDF splits pretty easy when you hit it with a nail so I switched over to staples.  One split I had to rip out and put in a small piece (Robert had a name for this practice/piece but I can’t remember it at the moment).  While my work wasn’t perfect, I decided it was good enough and pushed on.

Before remounting the TV I put 1/4” bead board across the breadth of the plywood backer.  I needed to cut one sheet into two 42” tall sections so that the beads would line up vertically and so that I could use the lap edging that adorns the long sides of bead board (the lap edging allows you to butt the long side of the sheets together so that the joint just looks like another bead).

If you made it this far… thanks!  Now go back to the beginning and hopefully you’ll appreciate the final (almost) product.  After I re-attached the TV mount, Kelly helped me get the TV back on the mounting arm.  Fortunately for me, she came home at the perfect time—all of the construction was done and I was starting to sweat bullets that I couldn’t get the weighty TV back on the the mount by myself.

To finish the project I need to run some more MDF vertically toward the ceiling from the top of the mantel.  In my mind this will carry the outside lines of the two columns up toward the ceiling and emphasize the chimney.  We also need to finalize how these legs will someday tie into crown molding: so there is a horizontal detail at the very top of the bead board (where it meets the ceiling) that still needs to be worked out.

Thanks for reading!

—Matt

Mantel SketchUp Drawing.  Today I threw myself into actually building it.  There&#8217;s a few more details yet to be added (in real life) but it&#8217;s 75% done.  I need someone to be my 25% person so I can start painting the small bedroom.  Kelly pushed me to hand draw a few versions, I lost the best drawing during my &#8220;Home Depot closing in 10 minutes frenzied state&#8221; a week ago, and I finally decided I should really cut my teeth on SketchUp to really get it right.  A lot of fun creating the drawings and even more fun finally building it.  More details and pictures soon.
&#8212;Matt

Mantel SketchUp Drawing.  Today I threw myself into actually building it.  There’s a few more details yet to be added (in real life) but it’s 75% done.  I need someone to be my 25% person so I can start painting the small bedroom.  Kelly pushed me to hand draw a few versions, I lost the best drawing during my “Home Depot closing in 10 minutes frenzied state” a week ago, and I finally decided I should really cut my teeth on SketchUp to really get it right.  A lot of fun creating the drawings and even more fun finally building it.  More details and pictures soon.

—Matt