Don’t Sink This Project

January 31, 2012

If you’re at all like me, I kind of need an excuse to do the really grody (can you still use that word?) chores, say, like cleaning under the stove. I’ll get to that in a minute.

This past week/weekened, father Burb visited the BurbEx and helped us out with a number of projects, for no other reason less than because he is a foot taller than either of us (thanks for closing the heating vents!). He also brought a circular saw in to the household. This will allow us to get SO much more done! (read- very excited).

The first project we decided to tackle was to rip out the floor under our kitchen sink. Because we have had so many plumbing issues, the floor was saggy and nasty, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for Katie to put in a new floor. The most perplexing thing about ripping the floor out was discovering just how much of our kitchen (and house for that matter) were built in place. It makes it somewhat harder to do some of this because I’d hate to have our sink fall out because we moved a piece of molding, you know?

Anyway, the floor came out distressingly easily by breaking out the rotting away wood.

Anyhoo, you can see the floor being ripped out piece by piece. Perhaps the funniest part of this is that we found an interesting piece of wood. The guy that owned our house prior to us was a real “do it yourself-er” except that he really kind of sucked at it. Shortcuts and shoddy work, which is what we spend so much of our time fixing now. Anyway, the support wood stuck under the floor included this little gem.

“CA” are the first two letters of dude’s last name. It appears he was practicing his wood burning skillz before “fixing” the sink.

Once all the old floor was ripped out, we took measurements so that we could cut our new floor. Because the old floor was built in place, it was one solid piece around a pipe. We had to do two pieces to accommodate.

Yay! Twirly! I love my new saw. We decided to use quarter inch plywood for the new floor, as we had bracings running along the edges that held a groove for the floor to be set in to. We began by cutting the two pieces of the floor.

As you can see, our fancy saw horse is made up of our recycling bin. After cutting the two main floor pieces, we had to measure and cut out a chunk on each piece to fit the pipe. I made two cuts on each side, and then we used a screwdriver and rubber mallet to score and pop the piece out.

Once the pieces were completed, we were able to set them in to the floor space. However, the bracing with the quarter inch groove was not properly cut or something because the floor did not quite fit. We had to do some jiggering and have a slightly incline floor. Oh well.

You can see that these were winched in and then we used the rubber mallet to tap them down in to place. Once the floor was set in, it was snug enough to not really need any additional bracing or support. I added one piece of 2×2 along the left edge under where the board is because we cut the smaller piece of floor above, and it needed a support to sit upon. Otherwise, there was structure in the middle as you can see, and running along the right-hand side.

Once the floor was in, since it was too cold out to paint, I got cheap dollar store contact paper that will serve just fine for now. Again, cut to size, peel back the backing and place the paper down.

Done!

HOWEVER!

This tale comes with another epic story. Remember how I said I needed an excuse to clean under the stove? Well it came as the result of one of our cats engaging in mischief. When we first moved in to our house, we lost one of our cats for about three days. We couldn’t figure out if she got out, was hiding, or what happened. It turned out that there is a hole that was cut for no apparent reason that we can determine, in the back side of the sink and neighboring cupboard. That gave the cat space to get behind the cupboard and under the counter.

Initially, father Burb and I stapled some dipped chicken wire in to place. We threw a cat in the cupboard and she wasn’t able to get back there.

Done and done, so we thought. However, we underestimated the sheer panic and strength of a desperate cat, and she ripped the wire right down and got behind the cupboard.

Fine we said. We’ll take the food away when we can’t monitor and she’ll have to come out to get some. After a day and a half, we tried reaching back there and bodily removing her. However that didn’t work because the gap behind the counter was shaped like an L”

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Well, that’s supposed to look like an L. Anyway, she would hide back behind the corner where our arms, vacuum, tape measure, and other assorted items just couldn’t reach. We tried wet food, where the smell would drive her out after two days of no food. No luck. Finally, I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.

I looked at possibly popping out a wall of the cupboard or something but again, because of the built in place nature of the entire construction, that wasn’t possible. I then began to wonder if it would be possible to pop the side panel off. Again, shoddy construction was a possibility. So after the third day, we pulled the stove out of place, cleaned under it, and then I began removing nails from the side panel.

Gross counter. Don’t worry, we cleaned it.

You can see the space behind the cupboard.

And the hole she got through.

Ultimately we got her out by prying back (rather than removing) the side panel, and when we could see her, I blew canned air at her. She did NOT like that so she ran to the other side of the L, which then allowed Katie to scare her out with the tape measure. She took off like a shot, and then I screwed in a piece of board I had cut to the right size, just for this occasion. No more hole, no more stuck cat. She’s now pouting in the cat tower.

I can’t wait to build more things, so we’ll definitely keep you posted on that.

xo-

Rach

What Makes You Tick

January 18, 2012

I want to get a little insight in to the minds of our dear readers. What is it you enjoy about our blog? Is it the pictures? The humor? The projects? Please take a few to click on your favorite, or comment below!

Please Be Seated

January 18, 2012

This here, is a bench.

Not only a bench, but an ugly bench. We picked it up because we always need more seating and such and figured we’d do something with it eventually. Well, eventually finally came, after the inspiration of our new bed pillows. We picked up a new bench fabric at the same time and figured now was good. The bench was about $5, and the fabric I’d guess is around $10, and the trim another $5 maybe. Of course, Katie could say differently if she wanted.

Anyway, reupholstering is another thing that makes a piece of furniture look pretty snazzy and it can be simple to do. This bench required unscrewing 11 screws, removing staples, stapling new fabric, cutting said fabric, and hot glue. Not bad.

First, take your object and disassemble it. This was a pretty straightforward project, but if you are doing something a bit more complicated, be sure to track your parts and order so that you know how to get it back together at the end.

Once the top was off, we removed the staples holding the black fabric and the mustard fabrics on. The black fabric is basically to keep the raw edges from showing underneath. Remove your staples carefully if you want to preserve this piece of fabric. I find a flat-head screwdriver or needle-nose pliers are best for removing staples.

Once all the staples are pulled out, you should be able to lift the top fabric off.

Underneath, hopefully you find foam or padding that is in good shape. If your foam is in tough shape, you can get new padding, glue it down, and you’re good to go. Ours was in good shape so we just recovered over the existing padding. The white in the corner is some extra padding to help fill out the foam, which was missing a chunk in the corner. We also were left with the frame. I’d like to paint our frame at some point but we didn’t have a good color at the time.

Next, take your new fabric, lay it out right-side-down and place the bench top on it upside down. Staple one edge with a staple gun, starting at the corners and middle, and filling in the in-betweens.

Next, pull your fabric under so that it is tight. You want it to be tight so that you don’t get loose fabric on your cover. It may take a buddy to help keep it tight while you staple.

Now, there are a couple ways to go about the corners, which I think is the trickiest part. You can measure and cut your corners ahead of time, and sew them in to the right shape (Make a cut from the corner in, then fold together and sew), as was done on the old cover. You can ease the corner around like fondant and avoid a crease, or you can miter the corner by folding it. We chose to miter it.

Once stapled, you can clean up your fabric edges if you want, or place your backing (old or new) on the bottom and staple it. Then, reassemble!

Our final touch was to add a decorative trim around the bottom. In our “final pictures” it hadn’t been glued on yet, but I basically took a glue gun and glued it to the bottom of the top piece (not the frame!).

Voila!

LET THERE BE LIGHT

January 16, 2012

So yeah. One of the things that annoys me the most about being a homeowner is that we inherited all the bad taste of the previous owners. Let’s just say they liked wood. A lot. Anyway, one of the small things we’ve been doing to really spruce things up and give it our flare is to replace the lighting. SO much of it was so tacky, it’s awful…and the top of my priority list was to remove the fugly fan that lived downstairs.

To set the stage, I’ll say that we probably have seven foot ceilings, so it’s kind of low to begin with. Then there was a giant monstrosity of a fan, with wicker inlay and flower-shaped glass shades. Teh awesome to be sure.

Halsey

Kind of like this one.

So we decided to get a nice and compact light that would provide plenty of brightness but MUCH less visual space.

Zoomed: Style Selections 4-Light Chrome Flush Mount Fixed Track Light Kit

Now, I kind of like replacing our lighting fixtures because it makes me feel like a badass. The first step was to shut off the breaker. ALWAYS do this. It hurts to get shocked. Once you’ve had someone else touch the wire to make sure its off (just kidding..kind of), start taking pieces off. We started with the blades, then shades then the fixture, then the ring, then the remaining pieces.

After removing all the pieces, you should be left with an inset box with two to three wires. One black one, one white one, and one that is usually the ground, and is often green.

It’s a little hard to tell in this picture because the plate is in the way, but the far right wire is black, the middle is white, and the third is a copper wire on the left.

We removed the plate because it was a right pain in the ass.

Next we removed the components of the new light. We put up the initial bracket-

The dust ring is disgusting. I’m also not sure why I look so concerned. Don’t worry, I didn’t cry.

Next twist your wires from the fixture to the wires in the box. White to white, black to black. Make sure they’re secured, then twist a nut on to the end to secure it. You can also wrap it with electrical tape.

Next the ground wire, or green wire should be either screwed under a green screw (as in this case) or wrapped around part of the metal framework.

Our screw was green and said GRND so we knew where to go. The wire was wrapped underthe screw, which was then secured.

Then the fixture goes on to the bracket. Screw it on, place the shades on, the bulbs, and voila!

We wound up with a light I wasn’t embarrassed to own. I chose the moveable track lighting to spread the love since this one light covers a large space. It’s a nice way to spruce up a drab looking area.

Crepes

January 15, 2012

Crepes have always been one of those things that is hyped up to be hard. So one day I thought why not? It turns out that they’re not too hard to make and they are quite a versitile vehicle to hold other food. Like fruit. Or chocolate. We’ve made them for sweet and for savory crepes, as well as in the traditional crepe and chocolate crepes (add cocoa powder!). Here is the basic recipe:

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons melted butter

salt

Stir the wets together and add the drys, stirring just until they’re incorporated.The batter can be a little lumpy but try and smooth out the big bumps.

You can see in the back bowl there are a few lumps but largely the batter should pour nicely. Get a flat pan with some sides (we used a frying pan but a saucier is ideal) and get it screaming hot. Spray the pan with oil and pour in your first crepe. They don’t always turn out well, so we photographed the second one.

I find that to get a nice, large crepe, to use about a half  a cup of batter. Once it’s in the pan, swirl it around until you have a flat, even layer. They sell a special tool for spreading out the batter, but you don’t need it.

You can see that the liquid batter is coming over the now cooking edge along the bottom. Keep swirling in circles (although I make slight rounder crepes than Katie did :D)

When all the liquid batter has begun to cook, give it a moment to fully cook. You have to work pretty fast because these are thin little pancakes that will cook quickly. Once it’s cooked on the bottom, flip the crepe over and give it about 20 seconds on the other side. We flip them in to our oven set on warm to keep them toasty.

Before, during, or after, you can consider your filling. Ham and cheese is nice – I’d put those in as the bottom is cooking and then roll it omelette style, nutella and bananas, fresh strawberries and cream – the possibilities are endless. For this particular breakfast, I sauteed some apples in butter and brown sugar.

After dicing the apples, I threw a tab of butter in to the pan and let it melt and get hot. I then added the apples.

I gave these a moment to cook down, and then flipped in about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. That melted and began to caramelize, so I also added some honey and cinnamon. This cooked until the apples were soft (but not mushy) and nicely caramelized – about five minutes. This will depend on how finely your apples are cut.

You can see they took on a nice chicken brown color. They also smelled delicious.

To prepare the crepes, I took one from the oven, filled it with a line of apples, and rolled it up. We had two each topped with the remainder of the apples and the leftover caramel sauce.

Oh so yum. Hopefully you’ll give these a go, and they will seem a little less scary. They’re totally worth it.

Done Drawing..ACTIVATE!

January 13, 2012

This is the last post in my series of drawing pictures. I hope it has been as fun for you to watch it unfold as it has been for me to share.

The client has agreed to give me a picture when she hangs it, so check back for an update. Cheers! Next up…X-Men (hopefully) 🙂

 

Rach

For most of us, our bedroom is the core of our personality as we express it through our houses or apartments. However, it’s also one of those spaces that isn’t really public once you’ve moved out of your college dorm room. What that means, at least for us, is that while we have individual things about our bedroom that are awesome, we also have areas that are pretty neglected and that we haven’t done much about. One of those areas was our bed. Upon leaving college we upgraded from a futon to a real mattress and box spring, but we’ve never had a head- or footboard, or any kind of matching bedroom set. So, one of the things we’ve been contemplating lately is doing something to make our bed look a little more grown-up and finished. We have plans for a headboard, but it’s been a trickier project than originally anticipated, so in the mean time, we went with decorative pillows.

We got 2 27″ square pillow forms to add some height and a generally finished look to the bed (Sora thinks she adds refinement as well). We then got some fabric. The fabric was a great find, it was on the bargin rack at Denver Fabric for $6.95 a yard, plus it’s intended to be curtain panels, so it was double wide. We got enough fabric for both pillows for about $6. The one downside is the fabric isn’t  as durable as you would usually use for something like a pillow. It’s definitely not a cuddle-up, fall asleep and drool kind of pillow.

To make the covers, I used the simplest pillow cover known to man-the flap pillow. I took a length of fabric long enough to cover the pillow, and folded it over hamburger-style, leaving 6-8″ overlap on one end. I then sewed up the sides to make a shape like an envelope.

From there, I just stuck the pillow form in, and folded the flap inside (think of a letter that you want to close and be able to open again later). Because these aren’t functional pillows I didn’t worry about making it fasten, however, if you wanted it to fasten, you could add buttons for a visible embellishment, or velcro on the inside for an invisible hold. The only other detail was to finish all of the raw edges. They’re mostly out of sight, so I just serged along all of my edges, but they could be zigzag stitched or folded over as well.

For most of us, our bedroom is the core of our personality as we express it through our houses or apartments. However, it’s also one of those spaces that isn’t really public once you’ve moved out of your college dorm room. What that means, at least for us, is that while we have individual things about our bedroom that are awesome, we also have areas that are pretty neglected and that we haven’t done much about. One of those areas was our bed. Upon leaving college we upgraded from a futon to a real mattress and box spring, but we’ve never had a head- or footboard, or any kind of matching bedroom set. So, one of the things we’ve been contemplating lately is doing something to make our bed look a little more grown-up and finished. We have plans for a headboard, but it’s been a trickier project than originally anticipated, so in the mean time, we went with decorative pillows. 

ImageWe got 2 27″ square pillow forms to add some height and a generally finished look to the bed (Sora thinks she adds refinement as well). We then got some fabric. The fabric was a great find, it was on the bargin rack at Denver Fabric for $6.95 a yard, plus it’s intended to be curtain panels, so it was double wide. We got enough fabric for both pillows for about $6. The one downside is the fabric isn’t  as durable as you would usually use for something like a pillow. It’s definitely not a cuddle-up, fall asleep and drool kind of pillow. 

To make the covers, I used the simplest pillow cover known to man-the flap pillow. I took a length of fabric long enough to cover the pillow, and folded it over hamburger-style, leaving 6-8″ overlap on one end. I then sewed up the sides to make a shape like an envelope.

ImageFrom there, I just stuck the pillow form in, and folded the flap inside (think of a letter that you want to close and be able to open again later). Because these aren’t functional pillows I didn’t worry about making it fasten, however, if you wanted it to fasten, you could add buttons for a visible embellishment, or velcro on the inside for an invisible hold. The only other detail was to finish all of the raw edges. They’re mostly out of sight, so I just serged along all of my edges, but they could be zigzag stitched or folded over as well.

Processing 2.0

January 9, 2012

Okay here’s another batch of process pictures. This one will be short and sweet.

Here’s where we left off. After Batman was left hovering with no legs, I filled the rest of him in.

I then started working on the Flash.

Blocking in the Flash and working in the detail on his top. You can see Batman up close too.

Top half finished…in a flash…yeah I went there.

Legs sketched and blocked in

Flash’s leg completed.

The completed trio.

 

Since the dude on the right is intimidating, I decided to start on Wonder Woman. I have her sketched in as the updated Wonder Woman, but upon request, I revamped her outfit.

I actually have Wonder Woman about done, but I have to fix the shadows and such so I didn’t want to post it yet. More details to come. Next up: The Green Lantern.

Processing

January 6, 2012

Okay so I promised updates, and here we go. I’ve been working on a commissioned drawing of the Justice League, as I discussed at length in my previous post about the evolution of my drawing. As I’ve worked on this drawing, I thought it would be fun to take pictures along the way. I started off by taking pictures every hour, but once I got in to it, I realized I was getting a lot done in an hour so I’m trying to take pictures a bit more often. I also am trying to capture some of the in-between drawing so that you can see the process a little bit more. The total time in this project so far is about four to five hours.

 

I’m hoping to finish the entire right side of the drawing by the end of the weekend, so we’ll see how it goes. More posts to come, and don’t worry, Batman won’t be hovering for long.