Friday, May 24, 2013

Garage Overhaul - Phase 1

I have a one car garage.  I have one car.  Oddly enough, I insist on my car being able to fit in my garage.  Call me crazy, but I've got this insane idea that that's what garages are for. But a girl has to have a place to be handy too, so my little garage does double duty. Here's a pic of what it looked like this morning.

I am so ashamed right now.

I can't even begin to describe what a mess this place was just a few short hours ago. Valuable work bench real estate is rendered inaccessible because it's under the cabinet on the wall. Stuff is EVERYWHERE. I can't get to the stuff in the corner. And this is definitely not a safe place for my unmentionables. 

So I devised a plan. A serious rearranging.  I wanted to make a counter that would sit between my washer and dryer. And I was off to Bart's Barn.  I bought a couple of pine shelves that had been painted, and obviously had a hard life.  One of them had a very clear iron burn on it. I also bought a piece of scrap two by three - I think.  I spent less than $5 on all this plus some very pretty trim that you will see in a future post.  Seriously this entire build cost less than ten bucks.  Go me. Step one, cut two by three into short lengths. 
The short piece is scrap. I'll find a home for it later. 

At this point I backed car out of garage, and moved everything. Appliances and workbenches and cabinetry got new homes.  Let me tell you, that cabinet is HEAVY. When I was done, I was drenched in sweat.  In a wring out your shirt kind of way.  Not very lady-like. So I decided to rest, eat, and sit in the AC for a while. Before I could construct my new counter, I had to measure the space between the washer and dryer now that I'd got them in position, and cut shelves to length. Then I laid out the counter in a dry fit. 

And marked the holes for the L brackets, and drilled them in place.

Nest, I applied lots of glue and screwed the cleat to the shelves, with L brackets attached. I thought I was done.  I plopped the counter between the washer and dryer, and realized that the metal brackets on the metal washer and dryer were going to rub against each other as my washer and dryer wriggled and vibrated  in spin cycles and what not. So, I applied some newly rediscovered weather stripping to the underside of the brackets as cushioning.  (I found so much stuff I forgot I had today.) Perfect fit!

Then I slid the counter back in place. 

The next few hours were spend sweeping, throwing away stuff I didn't need, and replacing things in the cabinet. My garage feels so spacious now!

You can't see it, but under the counter is a nifty place for a trash can and my step stool. I also have a space heater in there for the cold months.  

I'm disproportionally happy about the extension cord I mounted on the wall.  Power!

Ok, so it's not exactly pretty. I'm working on it ok?  It's functional!  Might I remind you what it looked like this morning?

And the most important detail of all, my car still fits!

Re-reading this post makes this seem like a quick and easy project. It was not.  It took all day, I'm dirtier than I've been in months, and my feet feel like they're going to fall off.  But it was totally worth it. I'm going to go shower now. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers' Day

This post does not have any how to's.  It doesn't have fancy pictures.  It is about my mother, whom I love.

My mother taught me how to learn.  She taught me to question, to explore, to look it up.  She taught me to be creative, and to take risks (although I bet she wishes she hadn't.) She taught me that other people have reasons for the things they do.  She taught me empathy, and kindness.  She tried to teach me to sew, and wear pink, and do my hair, and be girly.  But those were things I guess I had to figure out myself.

When she was 18 years old, my mom left home to be married to my father, who was in the Navy.  She moved across the country and lived in Virginia and Maine. She knew no one there but my father.  I would have been terrified. She did this with no computers, no skype, no cell phone, no google maps. Long distance phone calls were so expensive, she couldn't even afford to call her mom for advice when things went wrong. She relied on her own gumption and the kindness of strangers. My mother is courageous.

When she came back to Texas, she completed a bachelors degree, even though no one expected her to need one. She rode a bus for an hour each way to get to class. She struggled through wanting a child, and being unable to have one, while her friends were busy becoming mothers. She became pregnant, and still she rode that bus, an hour each way, to and from school. My mother is tenacious.

When I was very very little, my mother started a program to video tape the sermons at her church and broadcast them on the local cable channel.  In the 1980's. When no one else was doing this yet. She picked up cameras, hauled them to church, set them up, edited the tape, and returned them to the cable station, with help from a few friends. Eventually someone else took over the project, and everyone seemed to forget that it was my mom that started it all.  Now every church has a program like this. My mother is innovative.

When I was 4 my mother began working at my pre-school.  She worked their for 19 years, teaching 4 year olds.  My mother is patient.

She developed curriculum from nothing, and worked with very little resources to come up with art projects and lesson plans for these 4 year olds.  My mother is creative.

When I went to elementary school, my mother began a computer lab at my old pre-school, to teach 3, 4, and 5 year olds computer skills like how to use a mouse, and how to type.  It helped them recognize letters and numbers, and helped with their fine motor skills.  Her learning objectives were nearly identical to the technology TEKS that were developed by the state of Texas, about 5 years later. My mother is ingenious.

Three weeks ago, I called my mom to inform her that I was having an appraisal done and I needed to work on my curb appeal.  I called her on a Saturday at 2 pm.  By 4 pm she was at my house - an hour from hers - with a tray of pansies and a can do attitude.  I didn't even have to ask.  We worked until about 9 that night.  She was back the next afternoon with an edger and my father to help. The next weekend, she was here with a tree and a shovel. She gave up two weekends to help me make my house look pretty. My mother is kind.

My mother is all these things and more.  She will deny it, but she is beautiful. And I am proud of her.

Happy Mothers' Day mom.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Operation Yard Overhaul

As of May 28th, I will have been living in my house for exactly five years and six months.  Five years ago, when I was but a wee lass, interest rates were hovering around 6%.  I got a fantastic deal.  For the time. Now, interest rates are quite a bit lower, and my fantastic deal doesn't look so fantastic anymore. Hence, refinancing.

After a brief visit with my friendly neighborhood credit union representative, I was rolling right along with the process of a refinance. Part of the process involves an appraisal.  Meaning someone is going to come look at my house and tell me what it's worth. I shall be judged. So, I decided to put a little bit of money and a lot of effort into making my house look it's very best for the nice people from the bank.

Step one, mow.  And edge. And weed-eat. That part was relatively simple.

Grow little tree!

Step two, plant a tree, and some flowers.  The tree was a present from my mom, and was totally on sale for $7.50.  Way to score a deal mom! She also brought me some pansies.  I think they're the purple ones.  My thumb isn't green.  It's usually orange or red, or whatever color I'm painting with at the moment.

Step three, mulch everything. Step four, create seating area under the smurf-brella, as my bestie calls it. Remember?  It was my first post.

Take smurfbrella, add chairs and a stool. 
Become dissatisfied with paint scheme and improve. 

Step 5 paint front door. This sounds really simple.  It wasn't. First, I had to get the bloody thing off it's hinges. I did this with a flat head screwdriver, a hammer, and an extra set of hands.  I carefully tapped the pins out of the hinges.
Carefully. Working in a corner is hard, and my thumbs are delicate.

Then I got it on the sawhorses, took out dozens of screws, a set of blinds, and three locks,  and examined the damage. My front door sadly looks awful. You can tell it was probably pried open with a flat crowbar at some point in it's life.  Hence the decade old alarm permit that I peeled off with a razor blade and the three weird mismatched locks that give it a decidedly paranoid feel.

And then we sand.  I needed to get a good "tooth" so that the paint would stick, not sand down to the bare wood.
I heart my detail sander.

Next, we clean. We have to get every bit of dust off the door. This is definitely not the fun part.

Then we tape off anything we don't want painted, and paint.  I taped off the windows, and painted everything but the triangular sections a nice boring beige. Then I taped off the flat parts of the door, and painted the triangular sections a rust red that matches the exterior of my house.  Gives it a nice "pop."

Here's a how to for you, to help you tape off corners without those little tabs of tape ruining your edges. 

Then came the painstaking process of hanging the door back on it's hinges and re-attaching all the paranoid hardware. During which I was too busy cursing and pinching my fingers to take pictures.  Sorry.

And voila!  It almost looks as good as a new door!  Almost.

Step 6, throw a barbecue!