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Category Archives: DIY

Holiday Crafting

It never fails.

Every holiday season I attempt to make things for people and then life happens, and general holiday hub-bub gets in the way and few, if any, crafts actually make it into folks’ hot little hands.

I even started early this year…amend that. I started as early as NaNo and my other distractions allowed. Bah.

Projects for this year included:

  • A Duck Tape Creeper stocking for my pirate mister
  • A lamp for my cousin*
  • Recipe cards for my aunt
  • A knitted red wooly cap for my friend
  • Various photography projects such as a Christmas card featuring our new little person


But that really only kind of happened.

The lamp is 85 percent complete. I (mostly) followed the tutorial but ran into some issues. Like the fact that I thought I had a better place to cut the wires other than right at the socket. Cutting them at the base may have worked, but I haven’t had the chance to test it out yet as when I bought the lamp base from Ikea I neglected to get the right size bulb. also, the light saber does too wobble and I am not sure if that is acceptable to my perceived level of personal craftmanship.

The recipe cards made good sense in my head, I just ran out of time before our Christmas Eve’s Eve celebration with my aunts. Turns out though that the intended aunt has a unique way of storing her recipes and delaying this one a bit will be a serendipitous thing. Now I can adjust my plans in order to accommodate her filing system which will greatly enhance the likelihood that she’ll try some of the veggie goodness I am sending her way.

I know better than to attempt knitted projects for Christmas unless they are already complete by the month of December. But she commutes to campus this year and a bit of her day consists of waiting out by the bus shelter. It’s cool though. Classes don’t start back up for another couple of weeks so if I knit like a fiend for the next couple of days, she might get it before May.

Meanwhile, we now have a garage door that opens and closes when you push a button and Mr. Pirate will be using part of his use-it-or-lose-it time off next week to sand the floors in the baby’s future room and in the library. As a result, we’ll be able to start putting the pirate/ninja baby’s room together soon.

So yes. Life is good and happy end of 2012 y’all!

*April, if you’re reading this, pretend to be surprised anyway, okay?



Suburban Wildlife and Hand-Painted Curtains

I think a rabbit lives in our shrubbery.

It’s scraggly shrubbery, but at least one bunny calls it home. Our neighbor has reported seeing at least two together, so maybe we’ll have wee bunnies hopping about someday.

No wonder the cats like to leer out the front window.

But the real reason for this post (other than my “Ooh! Fuzzy!” moment) is to share our do-it-yourself closet “doors.”

Maybe door isn’t the right word. Maybe more of closet covering I suppose. Details.

When we moved in, there were only two accordion-style closet doors still barely hanging on to any of the closets. We addressed that early in the process by removing the offenders and moving on to the next project.

But it bugged me. Particularly the part where one of the now gaping holes was in the library where I wanted the space to feel less like a catch-all and more like a library. A home furnishings store was going out of business at about that time and I went a little crazy buying curtains that could work wherever without much concern for the overall color scheme. In an act of desperation, I tossed one of the curtains up on an expandable tension rod and rather liked it.

The idea of covering the closets in this fashion has since become something of a habit. We have a curtain in the podling’s future room and a curtain concealing our toolbox at the top of the stairs.

For the entry-way though, we wanted more of a unifying look. Ultimately, we’d like to make the downstairs something of a Steampunk space. We’ll use the fireplace as a centerpiece and also draw attention to the Desk of Doom Owen inherited from his great-grandmother. Until we can agree on how to retro fit the doorbell cover though, the Steampunk plan will have to wait.

The pass through to the kitchen, however, could not and needed some way of concealing our coats. With baby incoming, I’ve also felt a little bit frugal these past couple of months so I wanted this to be as inexpensive as possible.

Since I couldn’t find any curtains for cheap that I liked and I’m not nearly good enough with a sewing machine to trim my own, I decided to completely fabricate them instead using canvas drop cloth and grommets.

In all, the project took me two afternoons because I wanted to make sure the paint was good and dry but the grand total came in below $50.00 which included the brass curtain rods. Pretty sweet all things considered.

Extra bonus! I removed the unfriendly metal bars from our screen door and reused them as the design for my curtains.


Better Go Catch It

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When it comes to celebrating life, my family tends toward a slightly off-center way of doing things.

We are not your white picket fence type of holiday people. We scorn turkey at Thanksgiving in favor of firing up the grill one last time for burgers and brats. My dad and I once visited Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day too late for the wreath laying ceremony, and then just spent the rest of the day trekking through the wet grass looking for the soldier whose headstone had the same number designation as my birthday.

This is why my dad and sister flying to Colorado, so we can take an 8-hour road trip to Kansas to celebrate my aunt’s breast cancer journey makes perfect sense. After beating cancer once, a recurrence, a full mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she proudly can tell you that she’s still standing. My sister and I, who both hate to run, started running the Wichita Susan G. Komen 5K three years ago just for her.

We figured that running sucks, but cancer sucks more. This year though, since being a baby incubator means I am not supposed to get my heart rate above 140 bpm, and with planning a November wedding, my sister really didn’t train this summer, we just embarked on the road trip because visiting Kansas at the end of September is awesome.

And although my pirate mister and I decided that maybe we shouldn’t host out-of-state family and do Jade House projects on the same weekend, I slipped and we did a couple anyway. You see, my sister is my dad’s big carpentry buddy. She’s nine years older than me and when I thought that playing with carpenter’s glue and nailing little blocks of wood together was a great idea, she was helping our dad rebuild the back deck. Or remodel the kitchen in a week.

They’re just a good team like that.

So when my dad said, “Hey. We still want to get you a new refrigerator as a house-warming present.” I agreed.

Our old refrigerator had several problems beyond its age:

  • It routinely piddled on the floor.
  • The seal along the top of the freezer door was gappy and blew cold air toward the ceiling.
  • One shelf of the refrigerator froze food on a regular basis.

Owen and I picked out a fridge and arranged for the install last Saturday while I would be in Kansas. That afternoon he calls to say the new one won’t fit. I grumbled that we measured the space and although bigger, the new one should fit.

Once again, physics says no. Two refrigerators cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

After sizing up the situation on Sunday, my sister and I developed a plan of attack. We’d just saw off the counter to the left of the fridge space until it did fit.

TLDR: We now have a circular saw and a refrigerator that can grow with us as a family.

Also, I kind of shorted out the dish washer while using the shop vac to remove the mouse poop we discovered under it. But that’s another story to be told another time.


DIY demi-Diva

Colorado really is remarkable when it comes to judging snow. In the high country, any amount can add up to good powder. For the rest of us on the plains it’s hit or miss as to whether or not the weather will be nuisance or a serene blanket of white.

Turns out, between 10 to 20 inches of snow counts as a snow day for our school district. Anything less than that and you just shift into 4 Wheel Drive and call it good.

It’s my first official snow day as a district employee and after sleeping in for an extra hour I decided to tackle the problem of our house’s outdated heating and insulation problem. See, I went home to Virginia last weekend and my dad suggested this really neat way to block out unwanted wind down the chimney when you don’t use the fireplace: foam board, duct tape and a hanger. It sounded like a McGuyver solution to drafts and thus I decided that it was the best idea ever for combating the chill in our basement, Ravenholm.

We have two fireplaces and do not use either one. There’s multiple reasons. We’ll go into those later. Right now I wanted to be a DIY Diva and get ‘r done. I even took pictures so that I could detail the process and triumphantly describe the project on the blog.

Except, not so much.

A custom-fit foam board insert to cover the opening makes great sense in theory and in application for my parent’s fireplace. For ours though, the existing glass doors got in the way and without my pirate project buddy (who is working from home today so I do my best not to pester him) it did not end well.


I guess I’m more of a DIY demi-diva. Before I can claim full diva status I need to complete some more quests. For now I’ll just cover the windows in Ravenholm with the plastic shrink wrap and toss on another layer. So this is me, learning to be a Colorado home owner one season at a time.


Breathing life into the Jade House

I have come to the conclusion that throwing a house-warming party while the house is still on fire, is a bad idea.

We’ve been in the Jade House for almost a full month now and have decided that maybe we’ll throw a shindig for the house sometime in the fall. Of next year.

Owen and I are Level 1 homeowners and moving into a serious fixer-upper like this has kind of been like running into Molten Core wearing only starting gear.

At times, I feel like I’ve been running around my head and screaming: “STICK TO THE PLAN GUYS! STICK TO THE PLAN!

Coming to live at this house felt very much like a whirlwind three-month long courtship where neither party was really ready for something serious.

We had a rocky first date where I wanted nothing to do with the house, met a second time when I started to reassess my original opinions, and finally the pirate and I decided to propose our intentions. We had some issues surrounding our signing and I started to worry that the house was getting cold feet and wanted to back out. Finally, we made our for better or for worse commitment.

And now here we are. The honeymoon hardly lasted an hour and now both us and the house are hanging out all of our dirty laundry. Our toolbox is inadequate to handle the house’s needs. It was empty and neglected for sometime before even going on the market. There’s a random hole in the kitchen ceiling. Every faucet leaks in some endearing fashion or another. We have more weeds than actual lawn. Our laundry list goes on.

We have our work cut out for us, but we’re enthusiastic about the challenge.

It’s really nice to have a space where we don’t have to answer to anyone. If we want to paint the walls. We can. (Currently we’re going with Behr’s Wax Sculpture but accent wall’s are in our future.)

Yes, Wax Sculpture looks like beige. But it’s our beige.

If we want to put up an aerial jungle gym for the cats in the future office, our only limitations are our imagination and our skills.

We’re even thinking about signing up for a couple of classes through my community college on basic at-home plumbing and electrical. Because seriously. Beyond knowing that water goes down the drain and that electricity likes to be grounded, we don’t know a whole lot.

It’s a slow process which is fine by us. We’re not here to power level and move out.

It’s at least a 30-year commitment and we want the Jade House to know that we’re in it for the long haul. Come what may.