What The F#ck?!

I have four days off for the New Year’s holiday so the wife and I are making a “to do” list for the house; hoping to know a few things off over the weekend and the ultimately during the course of our Winter hibernation.

So here’s the list (not that you care):

  1. Finish installing last two cabinets in my studio.  This will free up some space in the garage.  Also I’m warming up to my studio as the “go to” place to escape work, kids, wife, responsibility, etc.
  2. Go through the Master Closet and make piles of clothes to give away, and get all the boxes out of there that have been sitting in the way since we moved in last April.  The new closet is smaller than the old one so we’ll have to separate “Summer” from “Winter” clothes.  Putting the off-season clothes in bins and storing them in the basement.  Ultimately though we should just get rid of clothes….or at least I will cause I don’t feel like going up and down each season.
  3. Finish Laundry Room – there are a lot of sales on stock white cabinets, and more to come so it would be nice to finish off the laundry room so I don’t have to trip over all the crap on the floor in there.
  4. Start framing the basement.  I want to partition the storage / mechanical room and build my world-famous plywood storage shelves in there.  Then we’ll go through the “Hoarders” episode that is our basement.  Tossing, recycling or donating anything that doesn’t fit on the shelves.  We need to get that basement up and running in so much that the boys can ride their bikes down there and maybe start migrating some of their toys down there.
  5. Build storage shelves in my studio.  Would love to get that organized so I can focus on art (and hiding from life) when I go in there.  Additionally, for next Winter, I want to hang some coat hooks and make an area to come in after we play in the snow.  With the exterior door, space and cement floor it’s really the best spot to come in from the snow.
  6. Build or install some shelves in the Sewing Room per the wife’s request.
  7. Also start doing some painting in the Living Room, Bedrooms and Bathrooms.

With that all plotted out, we decided to work on the closet, start organizing the basement and I’ll get those cabinets in the studio installed this weekend.  We decided to take a look at the closet.  I took the opportunity to lay down the law to the wife – which consists of me pontificating ad-nausea and her wondering what the hell she was thinking twelve years ago when she married me.

I want all these boxes out of here.  We’re going to go through everything….donate what we can…blah blah blah.” I rattled on. Looking at the shelves…..the end of the middle shelf kinda hung there.

Yeah that shelf came out of the wall. I told you that a while ago.  You need to fix it.”  The wife quipped to me.

Okay”  I said as I examine the drooping shelf further, and add the task to my ever growing ‘to do’ list.

For whatever reason I look up at the large top shelf.  It’s comprised of three leftover sections of wire shelving.  The little middle section, at only 12″ long, kinda sits at a funny angle.  Inquisitively I push aside a couple folded shirts to get a closer look….Inexplicably the  8′ section of shelf to the left decided to come and see me up close and personally.

What the f#ck?!”  I instinctively throw my arms up to catch the fully laden wire shelf in my hands as my dress shirts slide down the port side of the sinking ship.  Resting the shelf on my head I start pulling clothes off (of the shelf….you perv) and handing them to my wife.  Once everything was off I could see that the shelf basically pulled straight out of the wall.

So with that our priorities are now to 1) get the clothes organized and get that closet cleaned out and 2) finish off the Master Closet (something that wasn’t even on our to do list this year or next).  I don’t see much sense in trying to repair the current set up.  I think it’s better just to start from scratch.  There’s nothing I’ll be able to assure it won’t happen again and to just replace some parts won’t do much.  Long term I’m not a big fan of the wire shelving anyway.  There has got to be a better way.

Which lead me to the internet to start looking closet systems.  Ironically I just recycled a Container Store catalog that was all about their closet system, advertising their 30% off sale on materials and installation. Generally speaking my plan is to install myself, but hey I’m open to anything.  I’m not a big fan of all the clips and brackets of the typical wire shelf units.  Also I’m not convinced I want (or need) the adjustable shelves like I installed upstairs.  And like I think I said, I’m kinda over the wire shelf thing.  They are probably better from an air flow standpoint but they just feel cheap.  I’m probably just being snobby, as usual, but hey that’s how I feel. Our closet is about 12′ long and 2′ deep. Budget wise I don’t want to spend more than $1,000.  Preferably I’d like to spend only $200-$700 and get an attractive, working closet that suits the wife and I.

Here’s the rundown of options so far, weigh in with your thoughts comments or questions:

  1. California Closets – their website features photos of perky mannequin like women and fancy finishes.  Their brochures are limited.  I was hoping for more utility in planning out my closet.  Upside here is that we basically call them, they do all the work, and we write a check. Downside is that check is probably a lot more than we want to spend at this time.
  2. Martha Stewart Closets via Home Depot – This is the front-runner.  The website features an intuitive planning app and components can be bought online or in the store.  For about $750 I can plan out our dream closet, click a button and wait for it to show up on my front door.  For half that I can start with basic components bought at my local store and build up from there.  Available in cherry, espresso and white; we’d probably go with white.  Upside: decent quality, and easy install of a nice looking non-wire closet.  Low cost at about $500-$750 (self installed).  Downside: I’m skeptical of the mounting system; not sure how strong it possibly could be all hanging from a single rail.
  3. Container Store Elfa system – A cool system with lots of options.  We could get wire or wood shelves. Everything hangs from a sturdy track system just the one’s you find at Lowe’s.  The website’s planning tool is kinda lame and struggles with planning  our open 12′ long closet wall.  One other thing, all the planners don’t take into account our 9′ ceilings….I don’t feel like they take advantage of the long-term storage available in that top foot of space so we’ll have to infill that on our own regardless.  Upside: they run sales, like the 30% sale right now.  They can install for me if I’m feeling lazy and rich.  Downside: Not really low-cost at $800 installed (for simplest wire shelves), $600 if I install myself. To save money we’d probably have to go with a cheapo looking wire solution that leaves wire lines in my t-shirts.
  4. IKEA – I swear every time I go to their store they have tons of closet systems.  Their dismal website showed me but one system.  Upside: I could drive to Pittsburgh and come home with a pile of boxes.  Downside: I could drive to Pittsburgh and come home with a pile of boxes.
  5. Lowes – The Rubbermaid adjustable wire shelves are what I have in the upstairs hall.  The allen + roth wood shelves look great.  Also there are some wire shelves to choose from too.  I may price out the a + r stuff and compare to Martha’s stuff.  Rubbermaid features a planning app that looks cool but I didn’t try it yet.  Upside: the Rubbermaid wire shelves are sturdy, I like the mounting design.  Downside: wire shelves and unnecessary adjustable shelves.  Not sure how much the allen + roth stuff will cost.  No planning tools.  Install on the wire shelf systems is mind numbingly tedious.
  6. Custom –  Make the shelves myself?  Out of wood and paint?  Hmmm….I did get a table saw from Santa and my new Ryobi cordless drill is kick ass.  Um, no.  Upside: complete custom solution would leverage my extraordinary design abilities.  The wife would be tickled pink with all the dedicated storage.  Downside:  would probably cost a fortune and I lack the time, ability and know how to pull it off.

We’re hoping to make a decision this holiday weekend.  Like I said, if you have any additional ideas, let me know.  Cheers.


Snow Day

Today was the day after Christmas blizzard that wasn’t really a blizzard at all.  It was enough to get me out of work early though so not all was lost. I took advantage of the free time and planted our Christmas tree in the east preservation area.  The tree was in the house for about eight days and was starting to shed needles.  There was a lot of snow falling today but I trudged out with my tree in hand. I uncovered the plywood covering the hole I had previously dug in warmer weather.

tree removed from its pot waiting to be planted.

tree removed from its pot waiting to be planted.

I removed the tree from its pot and took off the plastic I had wrapped the bulb in when we brought it into the house.  Using a utility knife I cut away the fabric covering the bulb and loosened up the roots.

I took my trusty shovel and dug the hole out a little more…the soil was not frozen courtesy of the plywood covering.  I dropped the tree in and adjusted it so it looked fairly upright; the trunk has a slight curve.  I covered up the hole with the soil and even spread out a buck full of mulch around the base.  To help insulate the bulb I also tossed some fresh snow around the base too.  Within a few minutes the trees branches were covered in freshly fallen snow.


our christmas tree

our christmas tree

Now as you drive up the driveway, if you look closely out your passenger side window….just over there by the cherry trees, you’ll see a little blue spruce.  The first Christmas tree we ever had in our new home.  Hopefully, long after I’m gone, that tree will be standing there full grown, greeting guests and visitors.  It’s not to far from the birdhouse I cleaned out today as well, so I’m sure it’ll provide some nice refuge for birds through the years.  The tree stands in a pathway I cut out with my trimmer just about 18 months ago.  How far we’ve come in a short time.


We also took the opportunity to play in the snow today too.  The pond berm proved to be a most agreeable sledding hill for two wee little boys.  The berm doesn’t offer any real vertical drop but enough for a little orange sled to give them a thrill.


sleeding today.

We did have a nice holiday.  I took advantage of a Saturday off to tackle a couple of nagging issues around the house.  The studio door knob’s key hub was super loose and driving me crazy.  Every time one keyed the door it jiggled and the large gap invited ice and rain in my opinion.  So I took it apart to see what was up.  The other exterior knob assemblies didn’t have this problem so I think it was just an install anomaly.

I used a couple of flat head screw drivers and took the back face plate off.  Sure enough there are a couple of screws inside that hold the key hub in place.  And sure enough, neither of them was tight…the one had worked it’s way out about a 1/4″.  I easily tightened them up, making sure not to over tighten them and bend the door knob internal assembly.  One fixed up I re-installed  the rear face plate.

loose lock hub on exterior door knob

loose lock hub on exterior door knob


loose screws cause the lock hub to be super loose.

loose screws cause the lock hub to be super loose.









The master bed door inexplicably doesn’t close so I attempted to fix that.  After accessing the situation I figured out the problem. The strike plate doesn’t have any adjustment in it so I’m stuck with where it’s at…..what I would need to do is take it off, somehow fill the screw holes in the frame and then remount it in the proper location.  Alternately I could elongate the strike plate mounting holes so it mounts further out, allowing the door to latch…either way I didn’t feel like dealing with it on my day off.  The wife said “Oh that’s not the door to worry about, I wish you’d fix the bathroom door.”  Apparently she prefers her bathroom door to be able to lock, which it currently doesn’t.  So I took a look.

It’s a pocket door, and we love pocket doors for their space saving properties.  The biggest complaints about our pocket doors are 1) the weight – we shoulda got fake instead of real wood, 2) the hardware – the expensive matching bronze Emtek hardware for the pocket doors totally blows, making it impossible to operate the doors without a lot of effort, and 3) everything has to be spot on else they don’t close….which in our case means every door has an issue.

trim plate removed reveals the issues with the bathroom door.

trim plate removed reveals the issues with the bathroom door.


All three issues combined mean that from at least one side of every door it’s impossible to get the door closed all the way….the door pushes out or in and contacts the trim before the strike plate.  The handles give hands nothing to grip or push on, in order to move the super heavy doors.  Well apparently my wife doesn’t like the idea of any one of the men living in her home to be able to open the bathroom door while she’s butt naked or do her whatnot in the bathroom.  Go figure.

I measured a few things and figured the strike plate needed to be moved over about an eighth or quarter inch.  I removed the plate and discovered at one time it was moved over as there were two mounting holes down low.  Cool, I’ll drill a new hole up top.  Well, buried in the frame, right where my other mounting hole needs to go is the remnants of a broken off screw.  Ugh.  I fussed with it a bit and came to the conclusion that I’d have to perform major surgery on the door frame trim…possibly taking out a block of the trim and replacing it with fresh wood…..filler, paint, etc….more than I wanted to do on a Saturday morning. Well the wife’s just gonna have to live with the “freedom” that comes with non-locking bedroom and bathroom doors.  I went 1 for 3 on fixing doors on Saturday.  Good average if I were a baseball player.

That’s about it.  I’m going to play with my toys for the next couple days then get back to work.  I have those studio cabinets to finish installing, then onto my next project.  Also I’m starting to work on maintenance tasks like managing the water system chlorine and filters.  I also have a call into the HVAC guys to check the system and give me the nickel tour on how to maintain the filter systems.  One last thing, I can’t find any LED replacement bulbs for the bathroom vanity lights…it’s a rare T10 60W bulb, like you have in your fridge (though yours is probably 25W or 40W)…..and I’m hesitant to use incandescent bulbs since they use about $7 of energy annually and there are six of them in our bathroom.  I’m thinking CFL’s which I was able to find online.  I guess I should have thought of that before I ordered my fancy Restoration Hardware light fixtures….but I really love those fixtures and their old school Hollywood appeal.  Eventually someone will invent the bulb I need, until then I’ll get some compact fluorescents.

By the way, the floorplan featuring the kitchen island and long front hallway is perfect for bike riding.  We have a toddler loving life riding his bike on the hardwood floors, which in most households is probably a hue no no, but surprisingly for me (if you knew me) I don’t really care.  I’m keeping an eye on things and there appears to be no ill effect….except when he says “I am mad at you” because I tell him to slow down.

Christmas deer in our yard.  So cool to see them almost every night right out our window.

Christmas deer in our yard. So cool to see them almost every night right out our window.



And just like that another holiday season is essentially over, save for one more party night to celebrate the first day of the new year, which is a relatively uneventful happening in our home.  All the preparation, planning, participating…..drinking, eating, sharing…..all over.  I purposefully started listening to Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving.  I ran our on Black Friday and bought stuff.  I bought stuff online and in stores.  I went out with friends for beers.  Treated co-workers to lunch.  Drove around and looked at lights.  Visited family daily since Saturday. For all intents and purposes I did it all.  I’m sure you did as well, or at least as much as one was willing in your case.  But alas it still ends.

I sit quietly on the couch typing away, sipping my wine.  The last of the Christmas movies plays on the television.  One boy has succumbed to holiday slumber….the other still goes like the Energizer bunny, even at the nine o’clock hour.  I swear he’s like a verbal shark….were he to stop talking he’d drown or something just like a shark needs to swim all the time.  Well regardless I’m grateful for having them both.  And while they got way too many presents, I can overlook the commercialization of their childhood resting assured they still are smitten by the simplest of gifts (wires and a big teddy bear) and the most natural of sights (deer in the yard).  Like everything in life, balance is the secret to success.  I think I did a decent job tolerating the more unpleasant points of the season.  And I think I’m getting smart enough to know when to cut and run, remembering life’s too short.  Anyway I ramble forth….

From a practical standpoint I received some new goodies from Santa and the family to help me with my home projects.  Namely a new cordless drill set which will be really handy installing cabinets.  My current cordless drill was on its last legs and ready for the trash heap (not sure how you recycle a drill).  I also got a set of new screwdrivers which I desperately needed because my kid took, and subsequently lost, all the screwdrivers I had previously save for two or three of them.  Finally I received a table saw which I have a bunch of uses for.  This is a new tool I’ve never had before so I look forward to carving some real estate in the garage for it next to the miter saw.  I’ll be building those shelves in my studio in no time…..late winter project for me!

But the most important things I have I didn’t receive this holiday season but I’ve had for some time now.  And I’m grateful for it all.  My wife and I are blessed with wonderful kids.  The kids and I are blessed with their wonderful mother who lovingly takes care of them and  nurtures them….I’m amazed everyday by their wonder, curiosity and the joy they bring to us, and everyone they meet.  I’m also blessed with this beautiful home we moved into this year.  Celebrating the holidays here was a real treat and hopefully one to remember for many years to come.

Look, I’m far from the most delightful person to be around, but deep down inside I try to remain real and reflect on what matters most.  I am thankful this holiday season for everything everyone does for me; and all the people out there that put up with me throughout the year.  Without others I am only a fraction of what I could be.  Life is a precious commodity that is easily taken for granted, far too often.  Within each of us is a light and a story, much of which is hopefully yet to be seen.  It’s something I think about often.

I wish you all the best in the coming day, week, year….and I look forward to what comes next.  And making sure I spend time looking back as well.

Go out and do something remarkably good, no worries if no remarks though.

God bless.

Christmas Time

With about a week before Christmas we brought the tree in from outside and decorated it. This is the first time in all the years I can remember that I’ve had a real tree for the holiday.

I cut a couple of pieces of plastic, the thick stuff that was left over from doing the cement slabs last year.  I wrapped the ball of the live tree and bound it with some twine.  The other square of plastic we laid down on the rug in the living room.  I placed the wrapped ball of the 6′ live tree in a large outdoor flower-pot and placed the pot on the plastic covering the rug.  A red piece of fleece around the pot and voila! Christmas tree.  Some LED lights and our usual assortment of ornaments and we are all set for the holiday.

Live christmas tree.

Live christmas tree.

After the presents are unwrapped, and all the holiday cheer has been…well, cheered. I’ll take the tree outside and plant it in the hole I dug a few weeks ago in the yard.  Then in theory our first Christmas tree ever at our new house will grow up with us and hopefully long after we’re gone (i.e. retire to Florida).  I explained to my oldest but I think he was less than impressed.  Rather he was focusing on the fact that said tree lacked any presents under it.

Elsewhere the stockings are hung and various other decorations are up.   Supposedly we’re getting snow tomorrow so we may even have a white Christmas.  Ok, that’s it for today.  I have a few more cabinets to install but that will wait….some last minute shopping and wrapping presents to do.

stockings hung with care means we have to take them off to use the fireplace.

stockings hung with care means we have to take them off to use the fireplace.

walls are still white but it's looking homey enough for this Christmas

walls are still white but it’s looking homey enough for this Christmas

Base Cabinets in Studio

Getting home I knew I had several things to work on in preparation for Christmas, but my cabinet project looms over me like a monkey on my back.  I kind of want to get it done so I can get back to working on arts and crafts.  Plus installing these cabinets will free up garage space and I can get the Jeep out of the cold and rain where it sits slowly rusting away.

Today I was able to install the three base cabinets in the auxiliary office area of my studio.  It took me a leisurely hour and a half.  Of course this is where learned if I did a good job framing the new walls, because I would be able to tell if things were out of square or not plumb as soon as I put in the base cabinets.  Turns out I did about a “C” job for my first go at framing AND drywalling.  For whatever reason my floor (I made myself) under the cabinets was out of level so I had to shim like crazy.  This is opposed to the floor in the studio above where I installed cabinets previously…I didn’t have to shim anything from what I remember.  Oh well.  Also my wall was a little out of plumb and the corners aren’t the most square.

Once the first cabinet was leveled I added yet another block behind the wall to provide a secure mounting point for the base cabinet.  In hind sight I should have shifted my studs so that there would be one behind each cabinet.  Oh well.  Adding blocks was easy because the back of the wall is still exposed….(eventually I’ll build a bookcase so I left off the drywall…that’s why I still have access).  With the block added I drilled and screwed the cabinet in place using some #10 2-1/2″ black oxide cabinet screws; following the Shenandoah Cabinet installation guide.

I then laid down more shims so the middle 12″ drawer cabinet would be at the same height as the first cabinet, and it would be level.  Once in place I flushed up the face frames and clamped them together; the face frames of the two cabinets.  I then drilled some countersunk pilot holes and fastened the face frames together, all flush and even.  Next I added another mounting block and fastened the cabinet to the wall, screwing through the upper back hardwood mounting rail.

Upon inserting the final cabinet I realized I forgot to center the cabinets on the wall.  No big deal but the gap on the left side was a little bigger than the right…so I quickly disconnected  and centered the cabinets…no big deal.  I laid some shims down and inserted the last 18″ cabinet.  Everything checked out level and looked good so I fastened the face frames and mounted the unit to the wall, including one “no-no” screw running through the side of the cabinet into the wall (“no-no” cause there is no hardwood mounting rail on the sides of the cabinets).  It’ll be fine…cabinet’s not going anywhere.

I trimmed out the gaps on either side of the cabinet assembly with some 1/2″ trim that came with the cabinet order.  I glued and pinned in place the toe kick too. Finally I hoisted the premade laminate countertop up to see how bad it fit.  I had the counter made under the premise I’d frame the area to fit the countertop at exactly forty eight inches wide.  Well I messed up a measurement and ended up with about 48-1/2″ wide.  Plus the corners aren’t square.  Long story short I either need to live with it or get that countertop remade at about $100.  We’ll see.  The wife says it looks fine.  I’m not worried either way.

Probably back to art tomorrow but then at some point I’ll install the sink base and last wall cabinet.

Studio Cabinet Project Update

I made good progress on the cabinet project in office area of my art studio.  I put 2-3 more coats of drywall mud over the corners, screw heads and tape joints.  I sanded in between coats.  The mud I used was a premixed, low dust, type and it worked wonderfully.  All the sanding dust fell right to the floor making vacuuming it up an easy clean up task.  Look, I’ll never be a drywaller but the job turned out nice enough.  I don’t really have the patience to do a perfect job, plus I’m overly detailed so I tend to over work things, especially when it comes to wet drywall mud.  Long story short I lack the skill and desire to be a dry wall guy beyond the random wall here and there.  The areas where the cabinets were going I didn’t finish up completely just because the cabinets would hide any flaws.  This made the work a little easier.

So once the mud was dry and sanded to the best of my ability, I applied a layer of Kilz primer to seal the raw drywall.  A quart covered my “T” shaped wall assembly…about 8′ tall and ten linear feet.

I just load a bunch of mud on the palette knife, spread it like peanut butter and then smooth it out.

I just load a bunch of mud on the palette knife, spread it like peanut butter and then smooth it out.

patchy mud drying on wall.

patchy mud drying on wall.

I laid down some primer to seal the drywall.  Nothing pretty, just get paint on the wall for now.

I laid down some primer to seal the drywall. Nothing pretty, just get paint on the wall for now.

Once the walls were prepared, I turned my attention to the floor where the base cabinets are going.  I screwed in some 3/4″ thick furring strips to bring the floor up to level with the hardwood in the office area.  In front of the cabinets I have about 5″ of floor space that needs some sort of flooring.  I don’t have any wood floor left over from the build so I have to come up with plan “B”.  We have a few options.  I could reach out to the place I bought the flooring from and see if they have any scrap laying around.  Our wood floors are a light maple so pretty much anything would do in the light maple family.  I don’t think anyone would notice.  I would just lay down two boards perpendicular to the existing hardwood floor boards.  Another option is taking a piece of the dark walnut colored laminate flooring from the wife’s studio.  Each piece of flooring is about 5″ wide I think so this could work.  I have a half dozen left over pieces so I could fabricate something that would work.  Lastly, I have some of the bronze porcelain tile left over (I think) from the build.  I could inset some pieces of that to fill the void.  Right now I think the last option is what we’re leaning towards doing.  We’ll see.  First things first though, I had to even up the now exposed edge of the existing hardwood flooring.  I used a circular saw and plunge cut most of the boards, after scribing a line perpendicular to the wall.  For the remainder pieces that the circular saw couldn’t reach I used my trusty oscillating tool.

I used a circular saw set to a little over 3/4" to create a straight edge where the flooring ends.

I used a circular saw set to a little over 3/4″ to create a straight edge where the flooring ends.

Oscillating tool comes in handy to finish up cutting the floor boards.

Oscillating tool comes in handy to finish up cutting the floor boards.


Once the floor was prepped, I jumped onto mounting the cabinets. I set a level line across the wall to denote the bottom of my wall cabinets.  My base cabinets and counter top out at around 30.5″. I then added another 17.625″  to represent the space between the bottom of the wall cabinets, and the countertop.  So about 48″ up is where my line went.  This matches what I did in the adjacent desk area of the office.   Under that line I mounted a  wood strip to provide support to the cabinets while I install them.

A wood strip (and a friend) comes in handy to support the cabinets during installation.

A wood strip (and a friend) comes in handy to support the cabinets during installation.









Also since I still had access to the back side of the wall I added some more wood blocks so I’d have something to screw my 12″ wide cabinets to when mounting them.  Normally this isn’t an option with small cabinets, they usually fall between studs, but since I could, I did.

I added a 2x4 up high and about 36" down from the top so I could fasten the 12" cabinets securely.

I added a 2×4 up high and about 36″ down from the top so I could fasten the 12″ cabinets securely.


Once that was done I preassembled the three wall cabinets on the floor.  I also mounted a row of spice drawers under the center 24″ cabinet. With everything clamped together I predrilled all the holes…..holes in the frame rails to attach the cabinets side by side, and holes in the mounting rails in the back of the cabinet to mount them to the wall studs.  By the way, I simply measured the stud locations and transferred marks to the back of the cabinet, and drilled pilot holes….about 1/8″ holes.  A flexible shaft for the drill came in handy as it’s difficult to drill holes in the face frame of small 12″ wide cabinets.  The center cabinet is open (no doors) so I wanted the exposed mounting screws on the 12″ cabinets so they’d be hidden behind closed doors.

Flex shaft for the drill is a great tool for the job.

Flex shaft for the drill is a great tool for the job.


I then disassembled the cabinets and hoisted the center cabinet assembly up onto my support strip.  With someone else holding the cabinet in place I drilled pilot holes into the studs, through the pilot holes I drilled previously in the mounting rails of the cabinet.  Before the screws were all the way in, I checked to see if the cabinets were level.  I leveled them up with some shims…actually removing the mounting screws so I could then repass them through  the shims.  Anyway, after much fussing the cabinet was mounted.  I then repeated the procedure for the two 12″ cabinets.  The one twelve incher I was able to secure sideways too as a bonus, passing a screw through the cabinet into a block I put in the wall a while back.

Once all the cabinets were installed I mounted the knobs on the spice drawers and re-installed the doors on the 12″ cabinets (I’d removed them for installation).  Next I’ll install the base cabinets as well as the sink area cabinets.


Wall cabinets installed.

Wall cabinets installed.

Open center cabinet for knick knacks or whatnot.  Spice drawers for charging cords and whatnot.

Open center cabinet for knick knacks or whatnot. Spice drawers for charging cords and whatnot.


Studio Project Drywall

Sunday night after another busy weekend.  I didn’t get as far as I wanted but made steady progress on the office area in my studio.  Below is a photo tour of what I did this weekend including adding an outlet and starting the drywall installation.  This desk area is primarily a catch all for the office space.  I found a really cool outlet at Lowes.  On the bottom is a regular outlet but on top instead of another outlet there are two USB jacks so we can charge our phones and other USB devices without the need for an adapter.  Very cool indeed; $20 at Lowes.  Another cool product I picked up there were dry wall corners that are made from metal and covered in drywall tape.  That way I didn’t need to screw metal corners on and try to mud over the metal.  I simply put down some drywall mud, squish the corners in and then cover in mud.  For an amateur like me these integrated corners were really easy to use and made the job simpler.  I got pieces for both the inside and outside corners.  I’ll even use them on the top of my freestanding wall.

One bad thing I noticed was somehow my calculations or my craftsmanship failed me.  The 48″ space I need for the office counter top is closer to 48.5″ – 49″ which means I need to figure out how to finish off the gap I’ll most likely have.  I had our countertops premade so it’s not like the counter will just go wall to wall.  I’ll figure it out, there’s not much I can do about it now.  Also I’m looking at my sink on the end wall and going to plan on a redesign of some sort.  That counter may need to be remade as I didn’t have the sides of the counter laminated….once again, we’ll see.  Better planning would have helped but I had a design in my head, seeing it in person I think I want it another way.  No big deal.  Live and learn.

Photo show of the weekends festivities…



Come here.” I say, looking at the three foot tall blonde kid on the other side of the doorway.

What you gonna do?” his response, peering into his bedroom from the hall.  Next to him his not so terrible little brother, with matching blonde hair, plays with a truck and makes motor sounds.

Stand here.” I point. “Stand real straight okay…..okay I’m done.”  His mother, two steps away, provides approving oversight.

Can I have your pencil?” he asks inquisitively.

Hold on you’re brother is next.” I say walking in to the other bedroom. “Alright little guy…” He smiles up at me and tries to mimic big brother as best he can.  “Good job little guy.” I say with a smile. I’m repaid with a toothy grin.

Pencil dad?

Yeah…..here you go.” I hand over the half used yellow No. 2.

Whatcha gonna do with that?”  He says inquisitively looking with wonder, as only a four year old could, at the tool in my hand.

Makin’ notches.

Last week I made two minor adjustments to our new house.  All I needed was a pencil and a utility knife. I’d meant to make the adjustments last month so they’d be more accurate, or rather more timely, but you know how life goes….always something to do….something to get in the way of chores.





Snow Rails and Fireplace Review

We had an art show this weekend so not much has been getting done around the house.  Outside the snow rails were installed and they look fantastic.  Just as I’d imagined, these little horizontal pieces of metal add a nice subtle design element to the outside, encouraging the eye to move horizontally across the roof.  They add a small degree of welcomed industrial-ness to the look of the structure.  Functionally speaking they’re meant to keep snow on the roof until it melts, preventing from big piles of the stuff from falling on you or me or anyone else.

here you can see the snow rails on the garage

here you can see the snow rails on the garage

Primarily this is to show you the snow rails but I just noticed in this photo... I want to say there is a thermal issue with the roof...on this frosty day it seems like I can see the interior partitions telecasting themselves to the surface of the roof.  I'll have to look into it.

Primarily this is to show you the snow rails but I just noticed in this photo… I want to say there is a thermal issue with the roof…on this frosty day it seems like I can see the interior partitions telecasting themselves to the surface of the roof. I’ll have to look into it.

I’m looking at the photographs I took with my iphone on a frosty morning last week.  I was capturing pictures of the roof snow rails for the blog but it looks like I caught something else in my picture.  No, not bigfoot, but something just as disturbing.  As far as I can tell I can see the ghostly image of my interior wall positions being transmitted visually into the roof.  Basically the wall sections are or aren’t holding the roof frost as well as the non-wall sections.  You can see this in just about every normal cookie cutter house built across America.  The hot air inside warms up the roof and escapes out instead of being held inside the house.  Next time it snows, watch the snow melt on your roof, if it’s poorly insulated you can see the rafters.

Now I don’t know if this is actually what I’m seeing. Just like bigfoot, I don’t have any proof but it’s piqued my interest enough that I need to analyse it this winter.  At some point I’ll get a heat gun out and meter the roof to see what’s going on.  If need be I’ll get the insulation guy back out and see if something needs to be fixed.  Stay tuned.

I had a some questions come into the blog regarding our Quadrafire EDGE 60 fireplace.  We chose this unit because Christine wanted a fireplace look instead of a wood burning stove aesthetic for the family room.  This EDGE 60 is the only pellet burning appliance that  is built into the wall like a fireplace that I know of.  The unit is about 30″ deep, and we mounted ours about a foot into the room.  The remainder lives inside our 10″ thick walls and about a foot sticks out into the screen porch.  We build a framed “box” floor to ceiling and mounted the fireplace on an internal platform about ten inches off the floor.  The part inside the family room is finished in cultured stone.  The part outside is covered in regular house trim.  The chimney is built to manufacturer specs and housed in a wooden framed chase that routes out the top of the house.  None of the chimney is outside except the metal bits up top on the exterior.

our EDGE 60

our EDGE 60

How do we like it?  We love it.  I don’t know if Quadrafire makes them still, their website didn’t list it the last time I looked.  And it’s a pricey unit but we really are happy with ours.  We used it this Fall and it puts out a lot of heat, evenly and effectively.  I was worried it’d dry out the dining room table ’cause it’s so close but the blower shoots the heat out of the top of the unit.  So if you need a quick fix of heat, stand in front of it otherwise sit back and enjoy the even heat distribution.

It’s easy to fill up the hopper on top of the unit with hardwood pellets and looks like the hopper will hold two bags if you wanted to. The front door opens easily with a simple latch.  It’s matte black finish stays relatively clean and can be wiped down with a damp cloth if need be. Clean up is easy, there’s an ash tray below to empty out.  Inside the components are easy to remove and sweep out.  An attachment set for my shop vac is on my xmas list, that would make the job easier, but for now we’re okay with regular shop vac nossle cleaning.

The thermostat is simple to use and controls everything.  Ours is mounted across the room from the unit.  The family room tends to be the warmest room in the house.  The fireplace requires setting the thermostat 2-3 degrees more than the current temp.  It’ll then shut itself off after it reaches the set temperature. I’m sure there’s a manual mode but we use it this way.  The ambiance isn’t over the top like a real fireplace, more appliance like than anything, but you do see flame and it’s a welcome member of the family.  I don’t think you can go wrong with an EDGE 60 in your home.