Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Pulled Pulk

After my post about eating vegetarian, you might have seen this title as some sort of soy replica of pulled pork, but this is about sledding.  About towing Noah around out in the snowy wilderness in a more comfortable fashion.  Ever since he outgrew the old Chariot, we've been pulling a sled by a short rope, or taking turns playing outside.  We decided it was high time to pimp-out the sled to comfortable parent mode.
We've assembled some tools and are getting a system figured out.

The engineer says you have to build in redundancy in case one part fails, so we have a pair of carabiners linking this system together.
Here we go!

Somebody's having fun!

Dad can comfortably snowshoe, little one doesn't get left behind.

Unless he jumps out of the sled!

We were able to snowshoe and fat-bike with this system.  We used a bunch of 6-8 inch strips of webbing with grommets punched into them to attach to the sled, the sled-end of the pipe, and the harness end of the pipe.  I sewed a harness out of some outdoor nylon (in a bright color that matches the sled), and a 2 inch strip of webbing and buckle.  We just drilled a couple of holes in the pvc pipe and bolted the grommets to the pipe.  We don't have the best grommet system out there and had a couple of grommets pull out of the webbing from the forces put upon them when in real use - good thing we built in all that redundancy!
It was sure fun to play engineer again, mix power tools and sewing, and make something very useful for playing outside!  
Have you ever used something similar?  I'm curious about different designs, so please share!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Condo Tile and the To-Do list

One of my favorite things about home improvement is getting to work alongside my husband/ best-friend to accomplish something that looks good or functions properly (or both!).  I don't think we're quite to the status of looks good because of those awful yellow-orange walls, but the floor alone looks good!
We're not nearly as "in the groove" with tile projects as we used to be since we hired out the tile in our home bathroom and haven't otherwise done any tiling since Noah was an infant.  While figuring out our groove again, a somewhat surprising separation of roles occurred.  Brian was the mudder, I was the cutter.  What?! The female in the equation is the one operating power tools while the guy does the highly detailed mud and setting job?  Yep, that's how we roll.  Brian has a lot more experience with all types of mud and trowels and I can cut a straight line.  He's also much more picky about the final look and wants to only be able to blame himself if something is slightly crooked or less than awesome.
Enough chatter, here's the progress and the floor.
Bathroom, tile in progress

Hall with coat closet and main unit entry, tile in progress

Fun stuff getting the piece cut to go around the radiator pipe.  This is probably the truest tile color in my pictures.

Trickiest cut imaginable.  I made a template out of cardboard to make sure I could make it work.

Success, it fits!

Getting some grout in there, then wiping it off again.

Finished product as you would see it from the entry door.  Looking sharp!

Finished product in the bathroom.

That's going to look so good when the walls are light gray and the door is not dark green!
Phase 1 as we're calling it consists of the entry hall, bathroom, and the small bedroom (Noah's bedroom).  We really just want to get it painted, replace the flooring, and update the bathroom fixtures.  It didn't seem like nearly as much when we first talked about it, but the tenacious, textured wallpaper that wouldn't come down slowed us down.  The shower-head coming out of the wall at shoulder height slowed us down - when we decided it had to be raised 12-16 inches so that one could stand underneath it, which then involved replacing the shower surround completely.  Selecting a vanity that goes great with our vision for the place, but not so great with paneling on the bathroom walls didn't slow us by much since my dad took all the paneling out... And uncovered MORE wallpaper underneath.

Remove bedroom wallpaper
Install hallway light fixture so you can see something when you walk into the unit
Remove bathroom paneling
Tear out old flooring in bedroom, bathroom, hall
Remove bathroom fixtures
Prep hall and bedroom paneling for paint
Get plumber to relocate shower head and install new tub
Replace electrical fixtures with fresh, modern white ones
Install tile underlayment
Tile hall and bathroom
Install shower surround cement-board
Clean and tighten radiator shrouds
Prep bedroom walls for paint (clean up wallpaper removal dings and fill many, many holes from Suzy)
Prep bathroom walls for paint (clean up wallpaper removal dings and poor initial install job)
Re-hang bifold door at bedroom closet
Prime and paint wood (paneling, trim, door?)
Prime and paint walls
Paint radiator shrouds
Paint ceilings (they've seen better days and a fresh coat of paint can make the rooms look so much fresher)
Tile shower surround
Install bathroom fixtures
Get carpet installed

Then comes the fun part of adding all the things that makes is pleasant to stay there - furniture and textiles.  I think Phase 1 would have come together much faster had we included so many of the other things we did during that time - installing light fixtures throughout the place so we could see, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning, wall prep on the second bedroom, radiator clean-up on additional radiators, bringing in basic kitchenware and a dining table to make it more functional while we work, bringing in a mattress so we could sleep somewhat comfortably while we work, etc.  There's only so much car space, shopping time, and tools available!
The current goal is to get it humming with Phase 1 finished by June 1st.  Then you all are going to flock to the shore for vacations!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fun little thrift shop find

I happened upon the "large items" section of a local thrift store after I was lamenting the lack of end tables in our newly decorated living room.  I needed to find something approximately the same height as the couch arm and kind of unique styling, like the rest of the room.  This is what I scored...
 It was only $8.  It was in such great condition that I ran a damp cloth over it and popped it into place.  No re-painting, re-surfacing, repairs.  Just moved my table lamp onto my new table and celebrated!
The room is coming together.  Slowly, but it is.  I'm not really motivated to make major moves in the room because of that lovely lawn ornament we have out front ("For Sale" sign).  I expect to decorate a different living room and have been keeping that in mind when considering the size/arrangement of furniture and art.  We had one house viewer who actually asked if we would sell the furniture with the house, so I feel like that's a huge score in the "finishing" department!

Maybe I can blame the lack of blog posts on that lawn ornament too.  I don't have nearly as much content now that we're not doing extensive projects around the house.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I've had a few comments about "what do you eat, then?" recently.  This post is as much for my own menu planning help as it is for answering that question.
We've recently reduced the amount of meat we eat, substantially.  We've both read a few things from a variety of sources about diet and health and what the healthiest people eat.  Then I found a couple movies (available on Hulu), you could watch them too.  They are pretty convicting - "Forks over Knives" and "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead".  They are documentaries that fall into the same category as the famous "Super-size Me", but tell a useful story.
Anyhoo...  Brian reports sleeping better since this change and my digestive system seems to appreciate it.  It makes me feel better to think that I'm actively reducing my probability of having a serious medical issue like we've had a few friends deal with recently (at ages younger than us!).  25% of people with "heart disease" only find out they have it when they have a fatal heart attack - scary!
Now here's a list of main meals that we're cooking up:

  • Chili - meatless, of course
  • Stir-fry (with any variety of vegetables, "fried" in vegetable broth, served over brown rice, covered with our favorite sauce)
  • Mexican or Tex-Mex if you prefer
    • Tostadas (corn tortilla popped in the oven for 5 minutes) covered with refried beans and topped with lettuce and tomatoes
    • Burritos filled with beans, rice, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.
  • Sweet and Sour (you could almost put this with Stir-fry, but this time I build the sauce in with the meal and it has pineapple!)
  • Stuffed baked potatoes - I'm working on figuring out what to stuff these with in place of butter, cheese, and bacon bits.  I've put on salsa, corn, and roasted red peppers.
  • Pasta with marinara, here's where you can put chunks of zucchini in place of the meat
  • Veggie soup - I haven't won the boys over yet on any of these recipes, good thing we usually have bread around.
I've found myself having headaches after eating "normal" food recently.  I guess when your body starts being fed "real" food for awhile, it screams out against processed foods.  The other interesting thing I've noticed is how un-appealing certain processed foods can become when you aren't regularly consuming them.  On the other hand, cheese is really, really hard to eliminate - all things Italian beg for it!  I've been putting it on much more sparsely and hope to find an organic source for cheese so I can feel better about it.  I'm not sure I'll be able to reduce Noah's cheese habit, it is a major part of his diet.

If you're interested in reading more, these are the recent books:
Mad Cowboy by Howard Lyman
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
Forks Over Knives (the companion book to the documentary)

Anyone else out there "rebelling" against the modern culture when it comes to health and diet??  Let's share!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Doing a little knitting business in the car, amigo

Last spring, my reading list included several Debbie Macomber books where the main characters were avid knitters.  The tales peaked my interest in giving this craft another try; I don't think I've touched knitting needles since I was a child trying to learn from Grandma and her dear friend Harriet.  I didn't even have knitting needles in my crafting stash, just one lonely crochet hook that I used a few times in college.
So, I checked out YouTube and bought some supplies.
I finished Noah's sweater shortly after Christmas.  He isn't very interested in wearing it because he claims it's too big.  I think he'll get some use out of it next winter, and he has wore it a few times so far.  It sure looks handsome on him!
Knitting projects to date
- Doll blankies for Hannah's birthday
- Infinity scarf for mom for Christmas
- Infinity scarf for Carla for Christmas
- Leg warmers for me :)
- Noah's sweater

I got a few more projects queued up now.  I have a whole collection of knitting supplies that came from Grandma, including a project that was started.

Back to the title of the post - when we make the long car trip from home to the Superior condo, I have a substantial amount of dedicated time to keep my hands busy knitting.  When it's an easy pattern to follow, I can keep conversation going with my sweet driver and just knit the miles away (minus the frequent interruptions from the back seat).