Then Suddenly We’re Breaking Into Our Own Garage

This past weekend we finally cleared all my refinishing projects out of the garage. The desk still needs a couple coats of poly, so it’s living on the front porch at the moment, but we’ve started getting snow so I want my covered parking back!

Monday was a bank holiday so I had the day off of work. I meant to do productive things like hemming curtains and putting the finishing touches on master bedroom.  Instead I couldn’t find a ruler, lost my hem gauge as soon as I set it down, then gave up and went to IKEA. Running errands, in and out, perfectly normal day, right?

Well then comes Tuesday. I leave for work around 6:30am so it’s still quite dark out. Off I go to the garage, enter the code in the keypad, and….nothing. It’s not even like the door is frozen shut–I can’t even hear it trying to open.

Shit.

After re-keying the code a dozen times, I finally give up and go in to wake up Matt for backup.

I convince him it’s not a power issue–the keypad still lights up when you press buttons, and Wesley’s room (on the same breaker) still has power. So he comes out and tries the code in the keypad a few more times.

No go.

Just for kicks, he goes back in and flips the breaker off and on again (hey, power cycling works for computers).

Nothing.

Around this point I ask if the keypad is hardwired (vs using a battery). Matt says it is, plus the buttons are lighting up so it’s clearly getting power from somewhere.

We are now officially out of ideas and I have to get to work. The only option that seems to be left to us is to break a window, climb in, and manually open the door from the inside.

Ah, but why doesn’t our garage have a human-sized door you may be asking.  Well, it does, but a couple years ago some jerkward broke into our garage, stole a broken snowblower, and seriously damaged the door so it’s been screw shut ever since. Quite honestly it was never high on our to-do list…until that morning.

Yeah…so it’s nearly 7am and we now have to break into our own garage and hope no one calls the police on us. Matt just repaired the glass in this window too.

Is Matt still in his pajamas? Yes he is.  Is he also the one who crawled through the window? Yes he was. It was all terribly heroic.*

Once he’s in the garage, I suggest that he tries the button on the wall first, instead of the manual release. Seems a little silly, but he tries the button and…the door opens.

WTF???

So the inside button works,  The remotes in our cars work. But the keypad doesn’t work.

Matt pokes around a little bit and then I hear it:

“Oh look, a battery!”

Yes, that’s right. The keypad I was told was hardwired, actually ran off a battery. A battery that was apparently providing just enough power to illuminate the keys, but not enough power to send the signal to open the door.

Now, in Matt’s defense, there were wires running along the wall near the keypad. It turns out these belonged to the sensors at the bottom of the door (the ones that exist so you don’t squash small children when you close your garage door). I also didn’t press the issue when I mentioned the idea of a battery and have learned a valuable lesson in standing my ground.

Thankfully we had a spare 9V battery so the keypad is now fully functioning. Replacing the side door on the garage has also gotten bumped to the top of our warm weather to-do list. We should be getting the floor of the garage re-poured this spring so we’re planning on waiting until after that to deal with the door, just in case it changes the sizing at all. In the meantime, we’ll make sure to always have an extra 9V battery on hand.

 

*He asked me to work in the word “heroic” somewhere. You’re welcome.

Happy Halloween!

I’m all about the Halloween group costume.  Last year we did Peanuts and this year I nerded it up big time! Let’s just say when you’re a nerd and your son is named Wesley, this costume is practically mandatory.

And for the non-nerds out there, no, we’re not the family from the Incredibles. We’re not anyone from Star Wars.* Nope, this costume is straight-up Star Trek: The Next Generation.

via Ex Astris Scientia

Matt makes a pretty awesome Picard, Wesley’s the cutest little Crusher on the planet (#momBias), and I’m supposed to be Beverly Crusher, I just don’t have the hair for it.

Let’s take a closer look at Wesley’s iconic ugly sweater, shall we?

If you really want to be technical, the bottom stripe is supposed to be more tealy-blue, but I DIYed this puppy on the cheap so my options were limited.

I think my son only smiles when he has a stick (then bawls when I don’t let him bring sticks into the house).

Our daycare’s Halloween Party was today, and apparently once his teacher said “Wesley Crusher from Star Trek” there was even some recognition (so I think they would have gotten it if they had seen us all together).  We went to Halloween/Birthday party over the weekend and only 1 person there got it. #nerdProblems

 

*These were all actual guesses. I also had a co-worker ask what we were doing for Halloween.  When I responded that I had a Star Trek family costume planned, she asked if Wesley was going to be the “bear thing.” My new tagline may be “May the force be so Number One.”

Let’s Style a Dresser

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a dresser!

My original plan was to take the two IKEA dressers we currently had on each side of the bed and move them between the wardrobe and the door. Unfortunately, the dressers were a few inches too big to fit there.

Whomp whomp. Time for plan B and it ended up being gorgeous.

I originally though plan B was going to involve more IKEA.  Not fancy, but affordable. I wasn’t ready to give in to more flat-pack just yet,* so I would periodically browse Craigslist and  Facebook Marketplace. One day I stumbled across this beauty.  It had been up for over a week so I figured it was long gone, but I messaged the seller anyway and it was still available. The seller was even willing to hold it for me until the weekend so I could recruit a friend with an SUV. I have never felt so damn lucky.

We used to have a full-length mirror on this wall which obviously wasn’t going to work with the dresser. No biggie, I could turn the mirror and hang in horizontally above the dresser.  Or at least I thought I could…only I failed to actually measure the mirror ahead of time. It was longer than the dresser so it would have stuck out past the end and that would have just looked awkward.

So now the mirror’s scrapped and I need something to fill the space above the dresser and I’m thinking….another mirror. Matt thinks I’m nuts, but bows to my superior design skills.**

Here’s where you guys come in.  I’ve got a handful of mirror options, but I think I’m too close to the project at the moment so I need to get some outside opinions.

Watcha think? I’m sticking with brass accents in this room because there is so much blue/teal/cool gray happening that it really needs a pop of warmth.  I’m also trying to find a mirror that’s roughly 24″x30″ because then I can mount it to a stud*** and it will still look well positioned. Next to the mirror I have plans for some jewelry storage so whichever mirror I choose won’t be lonely for long.

Now that we have a new dresser (and some new nightstands!) we just have to bring in artwork and accessories and we’ll be ready for the full room reveal in no time!  Woot woot!

 

*Remember Matt’s challenge?

**Or just doesn’t care enough to argue.  Same dif really.

***Mirrors = heavy, plaster walls = wussy.

 

Seriously???

I'm outdoorsy in that I like drinking wine on patios.
via Some eCards

This really does sum up how outdoorsy I am. I don’t camp. I don’t pee in the woods. I don’t rough it. Period. End of story. I’m an urban pansy and perfectly ok with that.

Still, I didn’t think much of it when I noticed a bug bite a couple weeks ago because bug bites happen to urban and rural dwellers alike…then I woke up a few days later and had a huge swollen welt on my arm. It was red and sore and warm to the touch. Ok, so I was clearly allergic to whatever bit me, right? Matt told me not to worry about since the same thing had happened to him recently and it just went away in a few days.

Remind me to stop listening to Mr-Trust-Me-I’m-a-Doctor.*

A week and half later the swelling had gone down a bit, but the red area was larger..but faded in areas…then darker again. Kinda sorta like a bullseye pattern. And it started peeling in the center, like a sunburn. It also alternated between feeling like a sunburn and feeling like I’d been punched in the arm. Fun times.

It’s a little hard to see, so here it is highlighted with the power of Photoshop:

Yes, it takes up my entire upper arm, and let’s be honest, I ain’t no Michelle Obama in the arm department.**

I only know one thing that’s known for causing a bullseye pattern, but that’s Lyme Disease. It’s caused by ticks. Ticks live in the woods, and, as I’ve already established, I really don’t spend time in the woods. Plus, when ticks bite you they stick around and continue to drain your blood, right? And I certainly hadn’t seen any ticks on me. So now I’m clearly being paranoid, and I know I’m being paranoid.  I did an image search for Lyme Disease and the pictures that came back looked WAY worse than what I had, but since it wasn’t going away I went in to see our onsite nurse at my work to figure out what the heck was actually going on.

She took one look at my arm and went “Woah… you know what that is right?”

“I was hoping you’d tell me I was being paranoid….”

Nope. Lyme Disease it is (in a world of paper cuts and sniffles, I was officially her most interesting case of the day). So now I’m on antibiotics twice a day for the next 21 days.  Whoopie! The nurse I saw thinks the antibiotics will clear it up, but she opted for the 21 day treatment over the 14 day treatment because I’ve been sitting on this for at least two weeks. Later today I’m going to see my GP since our work clinic is fairly limited and the CNP.I saw yesterday thought I should have a follow-up appointment.

Apparently the ticks that cause Lyme Disease are very tiny and don’t always hang around. PSA for the day: if you see a weird bullseye patterned rash, get thee to a doctor and let them decide if you’re being a hypochondriac. It’s much better to catch it early and treat it with antibiotics; ignoring it can lead to serious complications.

My best guess at the moment is that the ninja-tick ambushed me some time while we were in Door County over Labor Day.  We walked through a nature preserve (on a boardwalk), hit up some restaurants, checked out some shopping areas, and took another walk (on a road). We weren’t exactly roughing it or crashing through woodland, but other than that I’ve been spending my extra time in my garage refinishing furniture.  Not exactly a known tick habitat.

Remind me to just avoid nature from now on….***

Update: The doctor I saw today agreed with the nurse from yesterday. It looks like classic Stage 1 Lyme Disease (too early even for a reliable blood test) so the antibiotics should clear it up no problem. He then followed that up with a warning that based on the size of the rash it possible it may develop an abscess so if I notice any additional swelling or pus I may need to come back in to get it lanced. Ew.

 

*J.D. does not qualify you to give medical advice. It basically just means that you have a doctorate in arguing with people.

**But despite my chubby exterior, I’m stronger than a number of women I know, so you win some, you lose some.

***On the bright side, if Matt ever gets some crazy urge to go camping again (yes, this happened once, and I shot him down), I can be all “REMEMBER THAT TIME I GOT LYME DISEASE???”

Steppin’ Up

Matt took last week off of work to get some things done around the house.  His big project? Re-doing the front steps.

Our existing steps were ugly, wonky, and starting to decay.  Matt already replaced one of the boards that was starting to fall apart, but the steps really needed to be completely replaced. Apart from lacking in structural integrity, the steps were also ugly and badly proportioned.

Day 1

Matt texts me a photo of the demo work…an giant gaping hole in the front of our house. Awesome. He also called me just before I left work asking me to pick up 80lbs of sand on my way home.  He was apparently too dirty to go to Menards, but me picking up a couple bags of sand, covered in dirty rain water, in my work clothes was no problem.  #bitter

Day 2

Matt finished digging out the base and leveling the existing pavers. Once he had a level base, he was able to build new (and level!) supports.

Day 3

We have stringers! And a tread! Woot Woot!

Day 4

Apparently lattice is a bitch to cut if you’re not cutting on a 45 degree angle, but I think he did a pretty good job!

Day 5

Matt waited for me to have free time to do the risers.  They needed to be ripped down to the correct height and it’s much easier to have two people when running long pieces of wood through our table saw.

We still need to add railings, but I think it’s looking pretty good so far! My dream plan is to extend it width-wise as well (the sides of the top step line up with the edges of the windows), but we would need to pour a new concrete pad to really make that worth it. You can also see our walkway isn’t as wide as the steps, which we’re dealing with for now.  Someday down the the road it would be nice to redo the walkway and make a better base for the steps. Unfortunately we have more pressing spendy updates before we get around to that. Very few people have money to do All the Things, and that’s ok, just figure out what your priorities are and work from there.

The 17th Argument I had with Matt this Week

Beige alert
via knowyourmeme.com

We’re getting close to wrapping up the master bedroom so I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the living room/TV room. The other evening I called Matt over to check out the mood I came up with.

Matt: It’s fine…but I don’t like the rugs.*

Me: We never seem to agree on rugs! What do you look for in a rug?

Matt: You know what you look for? The exact opposite.

Me: *snort*

Matt: You look for color and whimsy…

Me: … and you have a beige soul.  What’s wrong with whimsy?

Matt: I just think we should be more formal.

Me: But we’re not formal people!

Matt: Compared to a lot of people we are. I just think our entertaining spaces should be more formal.

Me: My dad and my step mom are formal.  They have fancy table settings and glasses for different types of wine!**

Matt: So do we!

Me: Since when?

Matt: We have different glasses for wine and martinis and champagne and ouzo…

Me: From IKEA!

 

*And what was the focal point of the design? The rugs.

**This is basically my definition of being a successful adult–having different glasses for red and white wine.

Projects in the Works

A few nights ago Matt commented to me that our house has too much flat-pack and not enough vintage.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

The very next day, I found this beauty on the side of the road.

I literally did a double take as I drove by, but continued on to pick up my son from daycare. We swung by on the way back home for some Mommy-Son bonding time (read: he cried while I muscled this thing into my minuscule car and drove a block with my trunk open #safetyFirst). The drawers need some repair and the whole thing needs refinishing, but it’s all completely doable and I even have a spot for it in our living room.

On Saturday I had a friend visiting from out of town, so naturally we went to the cluster of antique/vintage stores. Outside of one was a shabby looking MCM desk that was clearly in the process of being rehabbed. All the repair/refinshing work was stuff I could do, so I scored this puppy for $40!

One of the drawer fronts needs to be re-glued, the damaged edging needs to be pried off and replaced, and the whole thing needs to be stripped and re-stained.  Someone must have refinished it at one point and did a TERRIBLE job with the stain.  It’s splotchy and streaky and horrible, which means it just needs to come off. I’m currently planning a dark stain with white drawer fronts, I just need to figure out what hardware I want on the drawers…possibly cup pulls, we’ll see.

I also (still) have my bank of vintage post office boxes. I love these SO much, I’m just unsure how I really want to finish them.

They also got some paint on them while I was working on another project.  I tried to wipe it off right away and failed, so now it just looks like a bird crapped on it.  Classy.

On top of all of that, I have a vintage sewing machine table.  The machine is fabulous, but it’s built into the table which was causing space issues in our study layout.  I bought a new sewing machine and this one is going to my mom. If I get in a serious refinishing groove, I’d like to try and strip and re-stain this as well… especially since I’m responsible for the black paint.  We all make poor life choices at some time or another….

So with all of that, this is the current state of our front porch:

Please don’t report me to Hoarders…

In the past I’ve done refinishing work out here because the space is well ventilated and enclosed (plus, the carpet’s crap so I don’t have much guilt if I drip something and it misses the dropcloth). Unfortunately, I don’t want this to be a working space with Wesley crawling around because there’s too many dangerous things a baby can get into in a refinishing project. I’m probably going to end up setting up shop in our garage and trying to get everything done before it snows.

In semi-related news, I passed a furniture refinishing and repair place that’s hiring.  Not gonna lie, I’m really tempted to apply just so I can put “stripper” on my resume. Unfortunately they’re only hiring part-time. Still might be worth it if I could get an employee discount on reupholstering my couch….

DIY Channeled Headboard

Hey hey hey!  We have a new headboard! Did you think you had lost me to baby posts? Yeah… hopefully those will be slowing down and I’ll be focusing more on the house again. If you are interested in some down-to-earth baby talk, I finally did something with my Twitter account. Yup, I’m officially a Twit.

And our new sconces? How cute are they???

We seriously haven’t had a headboard since we moved into this house, so it’s been really nice to finally get this project out of the way. And yes, this was all custom-made and not terribly difficult. If you can use a miter saw and staple gun without losing a hand, this is for you!

I based this on the ah-maze-ing looking headboard from Fabric Paper Glue, but made a couple modifications to make it work better in our space.  Most notably:

  • I switched out the 1×8’s for 1×6’s (personal preference, plus 8-1×6’s + a 1×4 frame fit our bed frame perfectly)
  • I opted for it not to run all the way to the floor (our chunky baseboards would get in the way)
  • I chose to mount it on the wall using a cleat, which is a great way to hang big, heavy things.

Here’s what you need (measurements/amounts based on a Queen-sized bed)

Supplies

  • 5-1″x6″x8′ boards (they just need to be straight, they don’t need to be pretty)
  • 2-1″x4″x8′ boards (paintable/stainable quality)
  • 2-2″x6″x6′ boards
  • 1 or 2-1″x2″x6′ boards
  • 2-L-shaped metal plates
  • 10-straight metal plates
  • Batting (1-90″x108″ roll of “classic loft” gave me 3 layers/board)
  • Fabric (about 3yds)
  • Spray adhesive (optional)

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Staple gun (+ 1/4″ staples)–an electric staple gun is totally worth it!

Because we didn’t take our headboard all the way to the floor, we measured from the top of our bed frame (without the mattress) to our desired height. We cut 8 1x6s to this measurement.

I used spray adhesive to adhere 2 layers of batting to each board. The adhesive will help prevent your base layers from shifting, but isn’t necessary. I rough-cut the batting first, then trimmed it to size after gluing it down.

Cut your third layer of batting a few inches longer on each side–you’ll need enough to wrap around the board and staple down.  Cut your fabric about the same size.

Lay your fabric on the ground right-side down. Layer your batting, and then your board (fabric side down).

Oh hey, look! I finally remembered to take some pictures! I blame mom-brain (it’s a convenient excuse for everything).

I also cut out the corners of the batting to de-bulk when I got to wrapping the ends.

Starting from the center, staple the batting and fabric to the back of the board.  You’ll want to pull the fabric snug, but not super-tight. Work your way around the board, alternating sides.

Once all your board are wrapped you’ll need to attach them all together.  Cut a 1×2 a few inches shorter than the entire width of the boards. Use a convenient stretch of baseboard to keep the top of your boards lined up evenly (because of our shoe molding, I put an extra board in front of our baseboards).  Recruit a helper to pull the boards tightly together as you screw the 1×2 into them. Depending on how you choose to mount the headboard, you may opt to do more rows of 1x2s, but we were attaching some additional boards.

After the panels were secured together, we measured, cut, and attached the frame. First I dry-fit everything to check that everything was cut right. Then I attached the corners together with L-shaped plates. The frame then slipped around the panels and got attached to each board with straight plates.

We added a 2×6 along the bottom to give us an area to screw our bed frame directly into the head board. Our bed was constantly inching forward on our hardwood floors so we wanted to put a stop to that. Only about half of the 2×6 overlaps the headboard, the remaining overhang fills the gap between our bed frame and the wall. If you have less-chunky baseboards, you may not not need a 2″ board here.  Just measure the gap between your bed frame and the wall when your frame is pushed up as close as it will go.

At this point, some of you may be wondering why one of the boards of the frame appears to be painted on the back side.  This is because my husband–the math major–forgot how angles work.

Matt: I probably shouldn’t have bothered getting the pre-primed boards.  I still had to prime one of them again anyway.

Me: Why?

Matt: Because after cutting the first the side piece you need to flip it over to cut the angle for the opposite side.

Me: Or you could just reverse the saw.

Matt: No no, because see, this side needs to be angled this way so to get the opposite angle on the other side you need to flip the board over and…. oh… well I feel stupid now.

The picture above also show the cleat on the back of the baseboard.  Cleats are a great way to mount heavy objects on a wall–the length helps distribute weight while allowing you to hit multiple studs. If you have a table saw, they’re also super easy to make.

We chose to mount half of the cleat on the back of the headboard first and then measure for the correct height for the corresponding wall

I don’t have a lot of specific guidance for lining up each half of the cleat other than measure.  Measure lots.  And make chalk mark for guides.  It probably easier if your headboard rests on the ground, but ours rests on the top of our bed frame (because we just like to be difficult here).

FYI: That’s not a phone resting on the cleat, it’s just one of the 50 million awkwardly placed outlets in the room.  Matt removed the outlets, capped the wires, and put a solid plate over the electrical boxes.

So to recap: The headboard is attached to both the wall and the bed frame. It’s secured to the wall with a French Cleat, and bolted to the frame using a spacer.

.

Awesome diagram, no? One of these days I’d like to install Windows XP on my old (Windows 7) laptop so I can install my copy of AutoCAD again…but that’s a lot of work. #lazygirl

So yay! We have a headboard! And new sconces! Our bedroom is actually starting to come together! I have one wall left to paint (that I won’t be able to fully finish until we take out the window AC unit). I have an area rug ready to go (I just don’t want to put it down until I’m done painting). The biggest element I’m missing at the moment is a pair of nightstands.  The dressers aren’t really working there, especially with a lower bed frame…but hey, we’re getting close to done!