Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day...also I Hate Decks

First things first.  Thank you to all of the military keeping our country safe.  Hopefully everyone is enjoying some BBQ today.

Our grandiose plans of sitting out on our new finished deck with scrumptious food are not going to materialize.   We did make some progress this weekend however. 

Good news...the stairs are in! 

Bad news...they are most likely going to have to come back out.

Due to a slight miscalculation the walkable space on the stairway once the railing is in may not be enough.  Code is 36 inches for the stairs.  I am pretty sure that is walkable space and not total.  We have 36 inches total but once the railing is in it will be more like 26 inches. 

26 inches is pretty narrow. 

The problem is that it will be very difficult to fix the stairs after the railing is in....and expensive.  So if we want the stairs bigger we need to make the correction now before the railing on the deck goes in.

As has been par for the course it will not be easy to increase the width of the stairs.  It is going to require breaking apart a huge rock that is at the bottom of the stairs.  It will also require the stairs to be completely redone.

With the setback the decking took a back seat to some other yard work today. 

At least for now we have stairs...although the pugs refuse to go down them.

This project is beginning to annoy me.

So Happy Memorial Day to all of you that have decks.  I hate you.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stairway to Heaven...Almost - Deck Day #7

Thank goodness for long 4 day weekends.  There is about an 80% chance that 100% the deck will be completed by close of business on Monday.

Yesterday the husband and wife (mostly the husband) worked on the stairs.  I have never been looking forward to a set of stairs so much in my life.  It has been two really long weeks of letting the pugs out the front door to go to the bathroom.  Getting them out is not hard.  Getting them in is virtually impossible.

First piece of business was to remove a small amount of sod from the area where the stairs would be coming off of the deck.

Next up was the assembly of the pre-formed braces.  The husband needed a bit of help holding things together so baby girl did a bit of supervising on the deck.

Then came attaching the assembly to the hangers on the deck.

Finally the stair boards.

There was an issue.  The top stair is slightly bigger than the others and will require a small additional board piece (or the purchase of a 5 1/2 inch wide board vs. the 5 inch boards we have).  Take home message here is that the stairs are not done.  Close but no cigar.

I am starting to have serious doubts that this project is ever going to get done.

Monday, May 20, 2013

So close, yet so far... Deck Day #7

The day started out again with rain, a lot of rain.  The decking did not commence until 1:00. 

It had been a long night.  The husband didn't sleep well, he was going over stabilization options in his head.  The sway of the deck was troubling.  I think baby girl must have been worried about the deck too as she decided to get up 2 times something that she hasn't done for weeks.

So waking up to the rain was a bit frustrating.  The husband was ready to go sore muscles and sleep deprivation be damned.
(Note the whale kneeling pad that we use when we bath baby girl...hey sometimes you need to improvise)
Once the weather cooperated it was on like Donkey Kong.  The goal being to finish all of the deck boards and get the stairs up.

It was a lofty goal.

It was fun to see more and more of the deck put together.  It really started to look like a deck.  In addition a wonderful thing happened.  It was very clear about halfway through that the addition of the boards was in fact stabilizing the wobble a ton.  While the husband may still put a couple of angle supports on they are probably not necessary.  It is pretty solid.

They worked until 9:00.  They got really close to finishing up the deck boards.

This small gap is all that remains. 

The husband is going to work on the remaining deck boards and the stairs this week.  Leaving only the railing (which we still need to decide on) for this long Memorial Day weekend.

The new goal is to be able to sit out on the deck on Memorial day and enjoy some BBQ.  There is a bunch of work left to do in order to make that happen.  Including me doing some shopping for patio furniture. 

We haven't been doing a great job of meeting time lines recently so we will see.  We may be eating BBQ sitting on a deck with no railings and no chairs but at least we will have a deck.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Break in the Rain - Deck Day #6 (Part 2)

Yesterday morning was a complete loss as far as the deck project was concerned.  Thankfully the rain let up a little bit in the afternoon and some deckery was done.

We now have some deck boards in place.  It is finally beginning to look like a deck.

Truth be told the progress was pretty slow.  Passing rain showers would force the husband and brother to pack up the tools and come inside pretty regularly.  It is hard to work up any momentum when you have to stop every 45 minutes.

We also have another potential issue.

The deck is a bit wobbly. 

There is a bit more sway in the deck than the husband would like.  When this issue was first brought up to the wife I panicked a bit.  The husband however is not as concerned.  There is a pretty good chance that when all of the boards are in place it will stabilize.  It is a large deck so a small amount of sway is to be expected and the boards will help make everything more solid.

If that does not correct the issue then the posts will be reinforced with either angle braces or some additional concrete.

The husband is taking all of the issues in stride.  The wife is a little more concerned.

Today the board laying continues and will hopefully be completed although we have rain showers forecast for the afternoon.  In addition ideally the stairs would be put in but I think there is about a 0% chance of that happening. 

If there is one thing we have learned with the deck is everything takes longer!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rain Delay - Deck Day #6

After a VERY long week of letting 3 pugs out to the front yard to go to the bathroom I was looking forward to the deck work this weekend.  The husband's goal was to have all of the boards laid and the stairs in by the end of Sunday.

Mother Nature has a different plan...RAIN all weekend.

Is there such a thing as a Sun Dance? 

I am going to have to Google that.

Easy DIY Picture Shelf

No one ever accused us of not having enough projects going at the same time.  This past weekend we worked on the deck, planted the garden, planted the flower pots, dug and sprayed dandelions, shopped for patio furniture, purchased bushes for the backyard, played with a baby, and built the picture shelves.

After pretty much running all weekend I made the following observation:  Either we need additional days in the weekend or we need fewer projects. 

One of those things we can control.

We didn't control the projects well this past weekend.

Easy DIY Picture Shelves
Link to project start posting here

Project Rankings

Difficulty - Easy
Frustration Level - Low
Makeability - 100% Worth It


Crown Molding (Note: You want to have 2 flat surfaces on the crown.  You can make the shelves as beefy as you want depending on the size of crown you get.  We wanted the shelf to be fairly skinny so we went for a small crown)

MDF Board (Note: The width of the board will be the width of your shelf.  You probably don't want to go too big here unless your crown is really thick and beefy.  If you get too big of a shelf and put weight out on the front it may not be able to support it all.  We stuck with a 3 1/2 inch width.  That easily works for the frame width and even allows some small decor items.)

Thin board for the shelf lip (we used lattice board)
Paint (If you want to do a stain you will need to switch out the MDF for a wood board instead)

Step #1:
Determine the length of your shelf/shelves.  You will want to cut your boards (all the same length) before you paint.  I didn't actually do this so I ended up having to do some touch up painting when the shelf was up on the wall. 

Step #2
Paint all shelving pieces.  Make sure you paint all sides of the MDF board as well as the lattice board.  You will see all of the edges of these 2 pieces.  You will not need to paint one of the flat sides of the crown as it will be against the wall.

Step #3
Deterimine the location for your shelf/shelves.  If you are doing multiple shelves on top of each other, like we did, you will need to make sure that you have sufficient spacing between them to get your frames on the shelf.  Locate your studs in the wall.  Frames get heavy.  You will want to make sure that you go into a few studs.  Using a nail gun (if you have one...if you don't you should they are awesome) nail your crown molding piece to the wall.

Step #4
Next position the MDF board flush on the crown molding and nail it down into the top of the crown.

Step #5
Position the lattice board on the front of the MDF board, creating a lip for your shelf, and nail into place.

Step #6
You will probably want to fill in any nail holes and do some touch up on the paint.

There you have it.  Now comes the hard least for me!  What frames and pictures to select.

FYI after looking at a ton of different picture frames I did end up getting all of my frames from IKEA.  I was going for a bit cleaner/simpler look so I choose simple frames in a couple similar styles.  I do like the look of a bunch of different styles of frames...but not for me.

Add a few small decor items if you want and call it a day.  The beauty of this project is that you can easily switch out photographs, frames, etc.  No drilling and hanging frames on the wall.
I am really happy with how this project came out.  I even like the red color!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Maybe We Don't Need a Deck - Deck Day #5

There may have been a slight underestimation on the amount of time building a deck would require.

A couple days ago the husband and I were planning a big Memorial Day BBQ to christen our new deck.  We would have plenty of time to finish up the deck, get furniture, and do a bit of backyard maintenance (plant some new bushes) before Memorial Day.

We were smoking crack.

Demo day was a holy mess.  You would think that ripping something down would be much easier than putting something up.

After a long morning of back-breaking hammer and crowbar wielding work we now are sans walkout.  Now we just have a drop off from the kitchen sliding down to the gravel below.  It is a bit surreal to look out and not see the stairs.  The pugs are confused. 

The goal for the day was to get the frame completed.  Mission NOT accomplished.

With the demo taking much longer than expected, a couple of trips to the hardware store, varying issues with boards, yada, yada, yada....there are still joists that need to be hung.

Yesterday the deck was be put on the back-burner.  The battle will continue next weekend.  Until then the wife gets the super fun job of walking (the term herding would be more accurate) three pugs out the front door through the side gate to the backyard....all while juggling a baby.

The husband needs to finish this deck.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My First Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

For the past five years or so I have avoided Mother's Day like the plague.  I have blown off family dinners and pretty much cocooned myself inside my house.

When you are not a Mom and are desperately looking forward to being one the day can be overwhelming.  Last year was probably my lowest point.  The day before Mother's Day I found out that I was not pregnant...yet again. 

I was a mess.

What a difference a year makes. 

I am a Mom.  I can finally say that.

As I reflect on my first Mother's Day I can say that all of the cliches are true.  You do not truly know how much you can love until you have a child. 

In my short time as a Mother I have already experienced stronger emotions than I thought possible.  I can't watch the news anymore as all of the sad stories hit me harder.  What if that was my daughter? 

I will often find myself holding her and feeling such a wave of love that it actually hurts my heart.  The biggest heart-melting position is when I am burping her during a night feeding over my shoulder.  She is drowsy and buries her little head in the nook of my neck...gets me every time. 

Motherhood is hard and I am sure it will continue to get harder.  I believe the Army's slogan is "It's the toughest job you will ever love."  I call bull crap.  Motherhood definitely holds that title.  Bring it on!  I can't wait for all of the "firsts" yet to come.

Being a Mom has also opened my eyes to the love my Mom has for me.  It has been wonderful getting to see her become a Grandma.


I love you so much and I am so lucky to be able to call you Mom.  I can only hope to be half the Mom you are.  I am so lucky that my little girl gets to call you Grandma.  Enjoy your new title this Mother's Day but know you will always hold the title of Mom.

Love your little girl.

So Happy Mother's Day to all and prayers and good thoughts to those still struggling to get there.  Hold on, it will happen.  It may not happen in exactly the manner you envisioned but then again nothing does.  Know you are not alone.  Many struggle but you will soon have your own story, no matter how many plot twists.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Level Schmevel - Deck Day #4

The deck is again fully underway.  Yesterday was an important day for the deck project. 

And by important I mean frustrating.

The husband got the beam and most of the joists up.

I had not fully appreciated how difficult and critical it was to get all of the numberous pieces of beam and joist placed correctly.  This is especially difficult when the lumber you have recieved is slightly different widths and heights (the husband may have uttered a few colorful words...).

Thankfully the husband had some beefy help (his brother).

The first step was to get the big beam pieced together.  The deck is going to be about 30 feet so no one board was going to cover that distance.  The beam is actually multiple joist boards placed together.  Again getting everything level and lined up was a pretty big challenge.

After the beam was in place it was time to hang the joists.  There was additional measuring, leveling, and swearing.
                       (Yes, that is a pink gardening glove...long story!)

At the end of the day the majority of the joists were up.  In order to hang the remaining joists the old walkout will need to come down. Demo is tomorrow's project.

That means a sledgehammer.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Deck Guts

Deck materials have been delivered.

This pile of material will be transformed by the husband into a deck this weekend.

Last night we took a drive around the neighborhood to look at the different railing systems that people have used for their decks.  I like the aluminium ones, the husband is leaning toward the vinyl type...

...between you and me I suspect I know who will win.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Red Rum

I may hate the paint color I picked for the picture shelves.

I broke one of my own cardnial rules...ALWAYS get a paint tester and try out a few shades before making a final selection.

I didn't get a tester, I just made a selection.

I may have messed up.

It may be too red.

I may have to repaint.

My plan is to do a final color check with the boards inside the house later today once everything is completely dry.

I may be painting again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spending Money - Deck Day #3

Today was spending money day!

We decided to go with composite decking, TREX.  While the upfront cost is a bit more it does weather better and the upkeep is minimal.  Neither the husband nor the wife wants to be out there every year staining.  So composite here we come.

My dad and I headed out to the lumber yard in the morning.  His hook-up at the yard ended up scoring us an employee discount.   Not too shabby.  All of the materials have been ordered/purchased with the exception of the railing system.  That decision still needs to be made.

We had a slight hope that they would be able to deliver the materials today.  With the dad leaving tomorrow we had hoped that maybe some additional work could be done today.  Unfortunately we will have to wait for the materials to be delivered tomorrow.

The husband did take off a bit early from work so that they could work on getting the posts put up.  It was a race against nature as a rain storm decided to move in right when the deck work began.  Thankfully no one was made of sugar and even with the rain drops coming down the post work got finished.

The deck project is now on hold until the weekend.  The husband is going to recruit some help and hopefully by the end of the weekend we will have a deck (at least a deck without the railing). 

Also as a confession...I haven't started painting the picture shelves yet...maybe tomorrow.  Maybe not.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Too Many Pictures: Picture Shelf Project

I knew it was going to be a problem.

I have so many pictures of baby girl that I am a bit overwhelmed.  How do I pick just a few to print and display?  Where do I put them?

As I have posted in the past I am not really good at hanging things on my walls.  I over think.  Now with all of the cute baby pictures I need to get my act together and get displaying.

Have I mentioned how much I like Pinterest?  I have...well I am mentioning it again.

I knew I wanted some sort of wall display that I could easily switch out pictures.  With her growing so much everyday my favorite pictures change quickly.  I also want to be able to change the orientation of the frames from landscape to portrait and back again.  I hate being stuck with a specific direction needed for a specific frame as I don't like to think about what direction I need the picture when I am taking it.  I want to be able to shoot the picture in the direction that I think looks good in the moment.

Bottom line is that I wanted maximum flexibility.

After looking around at a ton of options I was really drawn to picture shelves.  Not only could I rotate the frames and switch out the pictures easily I could even potentially include a couple small decor items to add some additional interest.

Which wall to choose?

I immediately knew I wanted to put the shelf/shelves on one of the walls in the main living room.  After all I wanted everyone to be able to ooh and aah at baby girl (can't hide those away in an obscure hallway).

The wall I picked out is a main wall that is against the stairs.  The problem was that it had a light switch and thermostat on it.  The husband did not think this wall would work.  I begged to differ.

Visualization works well for both of use when we are trying to sell a project plan to one another.

So I took a picture of the blank wall.  Uploaded it to my favorite photo editing site PicMonkey.  Added in some shelves and then did another one where I did a quick mock up of some frames.

It really helped the husband to see how it would work around the light switch and the thermostat.  Doing the mock up also helped me get an idea of how many and what sized frames I wanted.  I highly recommend doing some sort of visualization either by putting paper up on the wall or by photo shop, especially if you are wall art impaired like me.

The plan is to build a simple shelf using a piece of crown molding.

So in the midst of all of the deck shenanigans I will be working on the shelving project.  Wood has been selected...

...I'm off to paint.