February ’19 Wrap-Up

We are updating our kitchen and dining room lighting after almost fourteen years. Up until now, we’ve used the lights that were here when we bought the house. First up was the kitchen fan light. The others are purchased and are on the to-do list to get installed.

Here is a quick, mostly picture post to share the rest of the empty nest goings on around here.

I tried a new recipe, which we really enjoyed. We still have butternut squash to use, so I found a recipe called Butternut Squash Chickpea Coconut Curry. Really quite yummy (I also added some potato that needed to be used up).

We are making some good progress on the shop (garage)! Tim installed a heater, which we’ve had running to keep the shop comfortable and which is allowing us to do drywall work in Winter. Our electric bill was definitely on the higher side this month.

All of the new drywall is primed and painted. Unfortunately, the folks who taped/mudded the ceiling and wall adjoining the house, did not cover the tape. The tape and mud have been falling off and crumbling for years, so Tim is re-doing all of it. This is taking a lot of time, and requires constant shifting of the HUGE PILES OF STUFF. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, which is exciting.

Same wall, next day.

Previous ceiling mud.

I got my first ever work boots a few months ago, and they are getting a workout, and I love them!

I opted for a compromise on the kiddos’ bedrooms. Although they will likely only be home once a year, I still always want them to feel like their rooms. The eldest’s has a queen sized bed (our old one) and is our default guest room. I’ve now moved sewing machines, fabric and all other related items into the youngest’s room. She is the one who sews, so it made sense. It doesn’t change the character of the space so it still feels like it’s her room.

Although I’m not doing yoga every day, I am still making sure to include it 2-3 days/week. I’ve actually been putting in some treadmill miles since the beginning of the year. It’s been a long time since I’ve been consistently logging miles 4-5 times/week. I never thought I could be even more of a “back of the packer” than I was, but it’s possible.

Fargo and I take a moment to pause now and again and reflect on our empty nest life. In this moment, we were pondering the increasing number of gray hairs we both have.

There’s so much more, but I’ll leave on a fun note. One of the many amazing woodworkers I follow on Instagram, The Awesome Orange, came up with a shirt idea that I fell in love with. I couldn’t resist getting it and I was extra excited when I found the sticker she enclosed with the shirt. Trading stickers seems to be a big thing in the woodworking community and I now have my first one.

Fly Fishing Rod Tube Holder (Definitely): Part II

Well, it all fit together. It’s got a lot of “character” in the way it fit together, and in the wood itself, but it looks pretty fantastic for a first go. I’ll share the good, and the areas for improvement in this post. I probably have way too many pictures, but I’m okay with that.

As I mentioned in Part I, I used two different woods, I believe them to be pine and cherry, so we’ll assume that to be the case. I originally intended to just use more of the pine, but the cherry was too pretty to pass up once our neighbors dropped it off. All four pieces of cherry are from the same board and the board was a little more dry and wonky than I really realized until I was fairly far into the process, but just soooooo pretty.

After sanding each piece and cutting the holes with the hole saw bit, I used an ancient Dremel type tool from my mom with a round sanding bit. The hole saw, and our inexperience, left some pretty rough edges. The Dremel-ish tool did a reasonable job, especially smoothing the interior of the circles.

We have a router, and a router table, and once the garage is finished, I hope to be able to set it up and work with it. I think a router roundover on these circles might be a good plan.

I used the pine for the base, under the cherry and because I thought it would be a neat contrast in the bottom holes to hold the tubes. The cherry was too pretty for stain, so I used two coats of Weatherwash Clear Maintenance Oil to give it a little help on the dryness and bring out the grain. I then used the Weatherwash Satin Varnish to seal it. Here are some before oil and after oil pictures.

I waffle between finishing before or after assembly. I opted for before this time, and it did impact one decision we made. We pondered whether it might be a good idea to use dowels to put the pieces together, and though we concluded that the cherry was probably too thin for that, the fact that I had already oiled and varnished did come up.

First step in assembly was gluing the bottom three pieces together.

You may be able to see, on the top left of the bottom picture, that the holes do not line up exactly.This is another area I need to figure out how to make better. The hole saw was really tough to line up precisely, and it jumped when the teeth first bit into the wood. When a rod tube is in there, it doesn’t show, but I’m hoping to correct this if I make another one.

We went back and forth on how to attach the sides and the top, and ways to clamp and brace. We landed on using glue with fine thread drywall screws, and used a pilot bit to drill/countersink the screw holes. This was new for me. I was so freaking nervous that the wood would split, or that I would set the screw at an angle and it would poke out the side of a board. We took turns drilling to mediate my anxiety, and guess what? I did OK.

Tim had the brilliant idea to try and dry fit the top piece before attaching the other side, which is propped up by the box in the picture above. I say brilliant, because we did need to re-position the unattached side to facilitate a better fit for the top. Fortunately, the adjustment made all four pieces sit flush with each other on one side. We determined that this side would be the front, since the uneven edge won’t be as noticeable in the back. Another stressor in attaching the top was how much the wonky sides would need to pull in. We were ready for a pop or a crack along the way, but thankfully – silence.

My foot photo-bombed the last picture, but it gives a little size comparison, as does the picture where Fargo is inspecting our work. Don’t worry, Tim already has enough rods/tubes to fill all eight spots. I think he’s pleased with his belated holiday gift…that he helped build.

A February Day

It started with a beautiful morning, sun streaming through the trees, which I tried to capture. The birds were busy on the feeders. Fargo and Tim played in the snow as the sun began to set.

Sofa/Console Table: Part II

After a few days of Spring, the Winter weather has returned to Central PA. We made the most of the post-polar vortex reprieve and got much of the drywall up in the garage.I loved being able to get outside early enough that we could watch the tail end of the sunrise.

The whole back wall is now done and only a third of a sheet is left to do by the garage door.

The console/sofa table has been an experience. It will apparently take three parts to really share the experience of making it. Part II is focused on how much harder it was to get the pieces of wood lined up in the herringbone pattern than I anticipated. First, Fargo and I got the round 1 sanding done, and I didn’t even have a coat on!

Once the sanding was completed, I had some interesting hours. It was all fun and games when I was just laying the pieces of wood out to make sure I cut enough. Actually lining them up so that the centers didn’t travel off to one side of the plywood or the other was a different story.

I used clamps on two pieces in the middle. I then lined the rest of the boards in place above and below. It was so frustrating that I had to walk away for a bit and come back to it. It would definitely have been easier if I had just cut the angle on the center edges and lined them up on the middle line. This way, not only did I need to line it up even from both edges, but the tilt had to be correct as well.

Once I FINALLY got to the point where it was as centered as possible, I tightly clamped the two middle pieces in order to permanently affix them in place and use them as a guide. I actually flipped the board over, nailed those two pieces from the bottom, crossed my fingers and began the glue-up process.

As an extra measure to secure the herringbone pieces to the plywood, I nailed all of them to the board from the back. I honestly have no idea if that was a good idea, or not, but I was just too nervous they would fall off.

Now that all but the smallest pieces are attached, I’m hoping to use the circular saw today (once temps get into the 20s) to trim the herringbone pieces to the size of the plywood. I’ll then use the scraps for the remaining open spots. Hoping the circular saw and I get along well.

In between, I’m still doing yoga (and Fargo is still fighting me for the mat), and I’m still stopping to take some pictures (mostly from indoors). Had a pileated woodpecker stop by the back yard.

I’m ready to get the final sanding on the table done and start staining it. I submitted my table project to the Weatherwash Brand Ambassador program and it was accepted, which I’m pretty excited about. They sent me the Oaked Stain, White Maintenance Oil and Satin Varnish for free to use on the table in exchange for some social media postings and pictures to help with their company promotion. Given that I started using their products for the bed and nightstands and how much I love the results, it’s super cool to be working with them on the table.

Okay, wish me luck!

Sofa/Console Table: Part I

As I type, the crazy winter winds are blowing and pairing up with the crazy polar vortex temperatures. I’m very grateful to be indoors right now, working on a blog post (assuming we don’t lose power). I’m also working on a blog post because the weather conditions are preventing me from working on my current project…a sofa/console table.

I’m still using construction grade lumber “soft” woods, with edges in the slightly rounded condition in which they come. I do this partly because I can with these types of builds, but mostly because I like the rustic look it provides. As my skills improve, I plan to try working with more hard wood varieties, especially if I can find local sources for reclaimed lumber.

The table I’m building is mostly based off of this Shanty-2-Chic plan. The place I’m diverging from the plan is the table top. I was able to get the pieces for the main structure cut and first round sanded last week. Here is what it looks like so far.

Fargo, as always, watching, and inspecting the work.

After watching a bunch of tutorial videos, including this one from Eternal Harvest Decor, I decided I wanted to attempt a herringbone table top. As an aside, I follow Brandi, of Eternal Harvest Decor, on Instagram and she is a talented woodworker and a hoot. Luckily, I was able to use the driveway workshop on Monday and started cutting the 1x3s for the top.

It took me a few minutes to really get the hang of how the pieces of wood were going to be laid out. I’m really excited now that I have this started (imagine the 13.5″ x 51″ plywood underneath is cut out). I had to stop due to frozen fingers and toes, but you can get the idea.

I’m really proud of myself because I used the circular saw, by myself, and cut the plywood. I even did a freaking good job! I know it’s not as powerful as the corded circular saw we have, but this Ridgid cordless saw is so much quieter (i.e. less scary) and it cut super smoothly.

I’m planning to try a different Weatherwash aging stain on the table, it’s called Oaked. I’ve done some test pieces and I like it with the Clear Oil I’ve used on all of the other builds, and with the White Maintenance Oil which is also new to me.

Okay, now to the non-woodworking part of the post. I’ve stuck with the 30 Day Dedicate Yoga with Adriene program, completing Day 29 today. I really enjoy the 20 minutes (=/-) each day, as does Fargo, who tries to steal my mat. How am I supposed to argue with that face?!?

I do chuckle some mornings when Adriene is wearing a tank top, and I am trying to decide what is the perfect number of layers to have on.

In addition, we’ve continued to have some lovely Winter scenes, as long as one is indoors, that I’ve tried to capture.

I’m hoping to finish building the table this weekend, as we’re supposed to have more “normal” Winter conditions by then. I will jump for joy if it turns out like I have it pictured in my head, or at least reasonably close. Also, we were able to squeeze a trip for drywall in between snow showers on Sunday, so putting that up is on the weekend agenda. Then, I can’t wait to figure out what will be next!

Programming note: My wonderful cousin made some adjustments to try and prevent pictures from appearing sideways on phones/tablets. They appear correct on the computer, which confuses things. I don’t seem to be able to go back and fix pictures in the old posts, but as I’m about to hit “publish” I’m hopeful everything will be facing the right way.

A Smattering of Stuff

Quick unrelated note: It seems that my pictures are appearing sideways on some platforms. I am working to fix it and in the meantime, I apologize.

Hello! Hoping 2019 is treating you well so far. Due to weather and the ongoing garage insulation project, I’ve been working on a smattering of stuff. It’s all good, and I am getting some small things done, but I know what my next project will be and I’m super anxious to get started on it. I definitely need Mother Nature to cooperate a bit more.

I’m trying to expand the food repertoire a little and cooked a new recipe from Pinch of Yum, Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs. It was amazing. I loved it and ate way too much, and wanted there to be way more leftovers than there were. Somehow I didn’t end up with as much sauce as I think I should have, so will make more next time.

Did I mention that I LOVED THIS DISH?!?!?

An exciting shop related item is that I bought a random orbital sander. I opted for corded vs adding to my cordless collection for two reasons. When I picked up the RIDGID cordless sander, it was heavy. Once I added the battery, it would have been WAY heavy. I didn’t think I would be able to manage it for an extended period of time. Once I made that decision, I tried the grips of the corded sanders. I have pretty small hands, so it matters. I chose the DEWALT because the grip was the best and they have a great reputation.

I follow Gator Finishing on Instagram and really enjoy their feed, so decided to support them with my first sandpaper disc purchase.

Since we built the lumber storage rack, it has been used as a quick repository. We’ve tossed many (mostly smaller) pieces of wood in there along the way, and the disorganization shows. I decided to use some of the wicked weather condition time to try to inventory and organize the cart. I did a post on Instagram asking any woodworkers out there how specific they were with inventory, but only received a few responses.

After I pulled all of the smaller pieces out, I actually measured and logged most of them. Maybe that’s weird. I did figure out that I have a bunch of the wood for my next bigger build already, which is fun.

Two final items. Our headboard, and part of Tim, were featured in a Weatherwash ad. I was ridiculously excited.

And last, I’ve been taking part in the Yoga With Adriene 30 Day Dedicate program. It was a recommendation from the youngest, and randomly echoed by a few other friends. I have really enjoyed it, more than I ever would have thought. Fargo has been doing way better than me in his stretching and relaxation though.

Nightstands So Far

Hi all. Been keeping super busy here. I’m building nightstands, painting the basement, trying to be a little creative on my own by using scrap wood to make decorative, rustic trays and centerpiece boxes. I have been so inspired by the makers/woodworkers I follow on Instagram. Although I have a mile long list of things I want to make, I’m feeling pretty good about the productivity level, and I’m never without something to work on.

I have one nightstand assembled, thanks to help from Tim. I think Fargo approves.

We used the same tongue and groove for the top that we used for the headboard. We thought that would tie it all together nicely.

One of the most challenging parts for me, was to cut the bottom shelf out around the legs. I didn’t think the original design for the shelf really fit the look I am going for, so I used upside down, wider tongue and groove. Out came the jigsaw, and…

Not too shabby, eh? SQUEEEEEE!!!!!

The other challenging part was building that drawer. It was a first drawer build for Tim too, but we figured it out together. I know it’s repetitive, but I was ridiculously excited when the drawer fit well.

I’m working on the second nightstand now. I’ve done all of the assembly work so far on the second one SOLO! I’m really proud of this, it’s a huge step.  I employed the use of clamps along the way.

Lots of pocket holes in this build, so I’m loving the Kreg Jig! You can see the Weatherwash in the background, which I also love. This morning I used PINED on the first nightstand in order to match the bed. It’s way too windy to move the miter saw into the driveway and finish building the second one, so I figured I’d stain the first. I’ll have an updated post with the rest of the nightstand pictures soon. I’ll also have a post with the assorted other items I’ve been putting together.

I’ll leave you with Fargo The Terrible, keeping me company while I build. Good thing I make sure he has a comfy place to rest.

Garden Adventures 2018

I would say that our garden was mostly successful this year, despite the inches and inches of rain that fell on us.

We currently have five huge Gunma cabbages fermenting for sauerkraut. Fargo wasn’t sure what to think about that cabbage…or is it a ball…

Basil crop wasn’t happy this year, only one batch of pesto.

Our absolute biggest success this year was sweet potatoes. HOLY COW!!! This was the first plant we dug up. The color is amazing!

That is an actual laundry basket and two large bowls, full to bursting.

Tim made a valiant effort to battle the squash vine borer which found our Blue Hubbard squash. We knew they were susceptible to vine borers, and thought we had outsmarted them, but alas, we had not. No more Blue Hubbards in our future plantings. We still ended up with a few, but they are on the small side. Nice round of butternuts though.

We had some tomato issues, but we also opted for Heirlooms, which are not quite as immune to weather. These are from a variety packet of seeds. It’s kind of fun waiting to find out what you are growing.

We grew pickling cucumbers and dill and canned 26 pints of pickles.

 

Enough berries to enjoy in yogurt and ice cream and for some baked goods, but no jams this year.

Used the dehydrator to dry cilantro, dill and parsley (lots and lots of parsley).

Grasshoppers ate the baby beets. We only had a small crop, but they were delicious. Rattlesnake pole beans were great this year, til the bean beetles showed. Luckily they waited til closer to the end. We had enough banana peppers for 18 pints of pickled peppers and quite a few roasted cheesy peppers (YUM!). Overall, the hard work was worthwhile.

Building a Bed–Part II

Fair warning, this is a long post.

When Ana White stained her bed, she used Varathane Weathered Wood Accelerator. We really liked the look of her bed, so we started researching this product. According to reviews, it seemed that quite a few people were ending up with a purple/blue color that they didn’t like. Given that feedback, we opted to research other wood aging stain products. Weatherwash had positive reviews, colors looked solid and it sounded like a good one to try.

After reading about the products on their site, I ordered the Pined Aging Stain and the Clear Maintenance Oil. The Oil is supposed to mellow the grey tones and bring out more of the warmer tones. I later bought the varnish because I originally misunderstood about how all three products work together.

Here is the headboard before (I know you can see the unstained pictures in the previous post, but here it is anyway), and after, one coat of the stain. Loved it!! It does look different on different wood types so do test spots on each type of wood first. There are three different woods in this headboard. .

Footboard and side rails.

It was dark outside when I applied a coat of oil, so I only have one bad picture of the before/after oil. I opted for the clear oil, but there is also a white oil, that lightens the stain. It totally beautified the wood even more, and I loved it!

Post oil footboard and rails. Ignore the areas where I needed to sand a little more than I realized and just look at the tones and how beautifully the grains show.

A few mornings ago, at my ridiculous 5:00 am get things done time, I used the varnish. Here is a garage shot of the headboard and footboard with stain, oil and varnish. We chose the flat varnish for this project, we weren’t looking for a super shiny finish.

Big excitement night before last, because…WE ASSEMBLED! Some of these pictures are from assembly night with poor lighting, and a few are from the next day, with the fancy camera.

One of my biggest fears was that the frame wouldn’t fit together well. It did! Because it is mostly heavy 2x4s and 2x6s, we had to carry everything upstairs separately and do all the assembly in the bedroom.

Fargo inspected our work as we progressed. He felt we did a solid job adding the cleats, the center support and had a good start on the slats. I am very glad we somehow ended up buying an extra 2×4. I cut the center support at the same 80″ as the cleats, but that ended up being too short. I would have been bummed if we’d had to wait until we could get out to buy another 2×4 to finish.

GAHHHHHH!!!!!! It’s done!!!!! I may have shed a tear of joy.

I wish the pictures could really portray how beautifully it turned out. If our room was a little larger, I might have been able to get better angles for entire bed shots, but the partials will have to do.

Following are some reflections on things I would probably do differently, besides sand a little more. I would make the frame an an inch or two higher, so the mattress sets up just a bit higher. For our bedroom, I’d probably take the top of the headboard down one panel, as our ceiling is fairly low. Our old mattress was about 4″ taller than the new one we bought (jury is still out on whether we like the new mattress), and if I had known this, I would have taken that panel from the top and put it on the bottom so no “pillow falling through” space existed. These are really just specific to our bedroom, and my learning curve.

Have I mentioned how proud I am of this bed?!?!? Honestly, one of my favorite parts was working with Tim. I’ve chronicled on this blog that empty nest has been hard for me. Tim has always had his outdoor hobbies, but I have been searching for something to feel passionate about. I have enjoyed baking and cooking and some of the other hobbies I’ve tried along the way, but I LOVED creating the workbench, the miter saw cart, the lumber storage cart and THIS BED. I love that Tim enjoyed working on all of these things with me. Although there is so much more to learn, I now have enough skill and knowledge base to do a lot on my own and keep me moving.  I greatly appreciate Tim’s participation and help when I want/need it, and I appreciate that he enjoys helping me. Can’t wait to get started on the next project!

 

 

 

Making Stuff With Wood

Hi all! Been a while…a LONG LONG while. No good excuse, just lots of busy and not enough focus. Once we hit May, which started off with the youngest’s graduation…

…then moved to the garden, the yard work, etc. etc., the days just seemed to whiz by. On top of all of that, I’ve been serious about one of the Hobby Adventures I started to tackle over the Winter: Making Stuff With Wood.

I have been having SO MUCH FUN, especially since the hubster has been helping and teaching me and showing how much patience he possesses. My learning curve has had some steep spots, but I am super proud of what I have to show you so far. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen all of these, but I’m going to get joy from sharing them here too.

We are turning our garage into work space and started by building a massive, and massively awesome, workbench!

We mostly followed the plans from Shanty-2-Chic.com for their large workbench. The main change is that we left extra overhang along the edges in order to be able to clamp things. Also, there has been a lumber pile in our garage for an embarrassingly long time, so most of the workbench was already in the garage, just waiting for us.

Next, we tackled a miter saw cart based on plans from the Ana White site.

Fargo The Terrible helped us with the wings out picture.

Again, we were able to use a lot of the garage lumber for this project. The main changes we made were using wood supports for the wings, and putting a back on the storage area, which also provides additional strength.

Speaking of the garage lumber, we built a lumber storage cart that we basically designed ourselves.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit all of the lumber and there is still more on the garage floor, but it definitely helps and I’m working on using the rest of it up in more projects.

EVERYTHING IS ON WHEELS!! I love that we can move it all around in order to use it, or to get it out of the way, or to roll it into the driveway when we have the rare non-rainy day (wettest summer on record here this year).

I honestly wish I had tried all of this four years ago, the first year of the Empty Nest, but I’m so glad I am doing it now. I have a huge sense of pride as I’m working on each project, and I feel like I am learning so much.

I’m giving my Rosies Workwear a workout. I love the Kreg Jig and pocket holes, I’m not afraid of the miter saw, I’ve used a circular saw, and I conquered 2.5″ wood screws. I want to build everything I see on the Shanty-2-Chic, Ana White, Rogue Engineer and House of Wood sites. I love that they all learned as they went and were able to turn their passions into a business. I now follow all different “makers” and woodcrafters on Instagram and I love seeing what they’re all working on. I literally have an “I want to make” wish list.

We’re still working on garden veggies…freezing, canning, curing, baking. I’m way behind on general yard work, like weeding (of course, the endless rain also has something to do with this). Sometimes the house cleaning gets bumped further down the list than it should so I can squeeze in a few more minutes in the garage. The rain currently falling again, for the third day in a row, is why I decided I could finally sit down and concentrate long enough to put this post together.

In my next post, I’ll show you the first non rough carpentry project we’ve been working on. The first one where looks matter. I’m so excited about it, I could burst.