How to Build a Halloween Mausoleum!

So it may have been years in the making, but we finally did it… We finished our mausoleum for our yard!

We planned on this being a multi-part project and thought we’d just “slap it together” and just live with it this year, but we were both really pleased with how it came out, we don’t think it needs a whole lot more. Maybe we’ll add some architectural details/interest, and I thought about moss and more aging.

Here’s the run-down of how we did it!

We started the process by using this drawing as a a loose reference for the general shape of our mausoleum.

Travis did a ton of research online about how to actually go about building it and scoped out some other folks’ projects to get an overall generalization of what materials to use.

Then he took a trip to Team Blue (Lowe’s) and bought ten 2×2’s and four sheets of plywood. The guys at the store did some of the rough cutting for him, but since we were really just wingin’ it, most of the cutting got done at home.

This is Travis’ quick explanation of how he built it:

  1. I figured out the size that I wanted it to be – each wall is 4ft long and 5ft tall
  2. Cut the plywood into the correct sizes (measure twice, cut once!)
  3. Cut the 2x2s to the right length in order to make the frame
  4. I made 3 walls, then screwed them together
  5. Then I made two 1ft long by 5ft tall pieces to create the two front walls, which gave me the 2ft wide doorway
  6. For the roof, I used two 4ft by 3ft pieces and framed those as well to create the peak

Once the whole thing was built, we put on 2 coats of exterior paint.

Weather-proofing coats on, we'll start

For the arch over the doorway, we re-purposed our homemade “whacky boat” we made this summer for our family’s lake house regatta. (Thats that huge pink surf board looking thing behind Travis, above.) Which are in fact pieces of foam insulation board. The same goes for the “belt” piece around the middle. That part will eventually be painted to look like stones. The little ledges to the left and right of the doorway are made of scrap 2x2s.

To cover up the lines and darken up the inside to make our white ghost stand out, Travis used some horrible red paint that The Others left behind when they moved. It was actually the color of our 6 ft by 4ft bathroom when we moved in. Sexy.

I then mixed up a small batch of grey paint; I used white paint exterior with a tiny bit of black paint, then I thinned it out with several cups of water to make it about the consistency of thick watercolor paint. (I’d say the final mix was probably 2 cups of paint to 5 cups water, but that’s a rough estimate. I lost count, I just added water until I got the consistency I wanted.)

We used a cut up tshirt to color-wash the exterior. We used several different “techniques” like wiping and dabbing to create a cement-ish texture. I’ve heard of people using grocery bags to achieve a similar look, but I thought that would take too long. The tshirt really soaked up a lot of paint and kept me from having to reload it over and over.

Once the whole thing looked like concrete, I went it with varying shades of black and grey paint and dry-brushed in the aging, to make the whole thing look like concrete or stone does after it’s aged for decades. To dry brush, you literally use a dry paint brush to apply the color in very thin layers.

I started out with black along the edges and where I wanted serious aging “shadowing” and then went back in with some of the color-wash and applied that on top and just blended it in towards the center of each panel. Travis helped me with the bottom, once he got the hang of it, he really did a great job and he considers himself to be “very not artistic.”

maus1

I used a small paintbrush to add in cracks and paint in the spots above the ledges to make them look recessed into the stone. We’ll eventually add some sort of candle or torch there. We mounted a skull above the door that we had from another Halloween decoration that we didn’t use. You could put just about anything there… we thought the skull was pretty cool!

THEN came the fun part. We had to get this puppy through our 3 ft wide gate! Finished, it is 4ft wide by 7ft tall. We ended up having to remove the roof and carry it through in two parts, that was easier than we anticipated.

Once we had it set up where we wanted it in the yard, we hung our Lady in White inside. We have read all sorts of blogs that have animatronics that people have custom-built themselves and they look really great… But we priced out the parts needed to make her from scratch and we decided that buying this one from Spirit was far cheaper and worth it for us. Her arms move up and down! Maybe someday we’ll custom-make something to go in there, but this lovely lady seems to be working out super.

We initially wanted to do a name placard over the doorway, but we couldn’t agree on a name to give her. We Googled all sorts of famous ghost stories of ladies in white and couldn’t come to an agreement on one we thought was fitting. So we’ll come up with our own… But it’s gotta be good, and these things take time.

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And what mausoleum is complete without the perfect ambient lighting?! So we purchased these Fire & Ice LED spotlights. One in green and one in blue. They each have motors on the inside that spin the internal light source through the diamond-cut dome, which makes the lights sort of shimmer. The best way to describe it is when light reflects off of water onto a surface.

The green one shines onto the front of the mausoleum, and we mounted the blue one on the interior, pointed downward onto the Lady. It gives it a sort of spectral, misty look. It looks almost like a really bright black light on her white dress.

And this is what the finished product looks like… Drumroll please….

maus3

maus2

And it blends in nicely with the rest of the graveyard, which is not quite done yet. We have a lot of items still to be put out. Plus on Trick or Treat night, we put in fog machines. But it is also lit up in blue and green to give it that sort of swampy-bayou feel!

maus4

All in all, we spent about $60 to build the mausoleum. Which doesn’t factor in that we had a coupon and two leftover gift cards from a return we made previously!

  • Plywood
  • 2x2s
  • 2 inch screws
  • 1 quart of white paint
  • 1 quart of black paint
  • 1 gallon of fence paint (already had)
  • 1 sheet of foam insulation (already had)
  • 1 gallon red paint (already had)

Then we bought the other items at Spirit, but also had a 30% off coupon for those, so we spent well under $100 on:

  • Ghost lady
  • Green Spotlight (already on sale!)
  • Blue Spotlight (already on sale!)

It took Travis probably 2 hours to build it. The painting took probably 3 hours over the course of 3 evenings after work. This is something that could easily be done in much less time, but we kind of took our sweet time.

It’s been up for about a week now and so far so good! We’ve even had some rain and everything seems to be holding up really well. The fact that we used fence paint meant for some hard-core elements is probably it’s saving grace. We made sure to get the paint on really thick and into all the nooks and crannies that will be exposed. After this season, it probably wouldn’t be too crazy of an idea to put some sort of sealant on it and even get into the interior and paint every inch of it. Considering the inside  is just latex interior paint, it probably wouldn’t hold up long-term without a sealant. But for the couple weeks it will be in the yard this year, hopefully it will hold up nicely.

Well there you have it! Happy Halloweening!

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Happy House Anniversary!

Happy July 1st! And Happy House Anniversary to us! 8 momentous years ago, we took possession of Casa De Awesomesauce. We were 23 years old!

It’s also by far, the longest my husband has lived in the same place! Ha! My small-town ways have rubbed off on his gypsy soul! Plus, moving sucks real bad!

house

We went to a concert that evening and afterwards were supposed to stay the first night in our first home, but when we stopped at the house, the previous occupants were still moving stuff! The place was mostly empty, but every light in the house was on… jerks.

We waited three more days for them to get out. It was the longest wait of our lives! Even after we moved in, they spent two more weeks coming back and forth to get their shit out of our yard and shed. Trampolines, pool, play houses… we probably should have made a stink about it, but that wasn’t going to accomplish anything.

On another note, I have some sad news, folks…

After doing some serious inspecting of the Hell on Wheels camper, we realized the damage is far more extensive than originally anticipated. There is more water damage than we can afford to fix. We’d normally just say whatever and haul it out to our favorite boondocking spot as-is, until it completely falls apart since we don’t really dig campground camping, but we no longer have access to that property where our spot is. 😦 So since it would be really silly to put money into something we’ll never get a return out of, we’re throwing in the towel.

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We hate to be quitters, but this project just doesn’t make any sense for us anymore. After the nightmare that the boat became, (read about that here and here!) we just don’t want this camper to be a repeat of that. We found a charity that will come and haul it away for free, let us write it off for taxes like you would when donating items to a thrift store, and give they’ll give us a voucher for 2 free nights at a bunch of cool destinations across the US. So we’ve decided to do that and focus our time and energy on the house instead. Because you know what? We’re taking the first steps towards moving.

We’re not sure exactly where to, yet but we know we’re over the ‘burbs. Even though we still love our Columbus with the fire of a thousand suns! We love the convenience of it and the fact that we can find something to do virtually 24 hours a day. We love the culture and that it is a community of acceptance and understanding for everyone.

But I also miss the peace of living in the country, it fits too.

So in the meantime, we’re going to start slowly polishing up the house. For instance, we haven’t had electricity in over half of our kitchen since the year we moved in… 8 years ago. Things like that are probably important to future potential home buyers! So we’ll be begrudgingly hiring an electrician to come out and take a look at it since it’s not one of the things we feel comfortable tackling… Because we’d probably kill ourselves.

So to get that whole laundry list of things rolling, over the last month we got started with our spare bedroom. Yeah, kind of a weird place to start, but it was the place that really needed the most help. It had hideous, dirty, stained,  mauve carpet, green paint on the walls (that we slapped up in an hour to cover the vomitous pink paint and ballerina border leftover from the previous occupants) plus we had somehow managed to smear it all over the ceiling. It was one of our first paint jobs, give us a break!

This might be your cup of tea, but pink carpet with pink walls with pink ballerinas wasn’t really our thing! And like I said before it was suuuuper stained. Kids + dogs + carpet = Gross.

I could just slap myself for not getting more “before” photos. But we snapped ONE while things were in progress, where the two greens met (the bottom green was theirs, our darker green that covered the pink was on top) there was a piece of foam chair rail with little cutesy daisies on it. It was cute from afar, but upon close inspection, it was very juvenile looking. Plus we were over it. So it got ripped down.

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We initially planned on painting the subfloor while we waited for the cash to put in new flooring. Sounds scary, but some folks have really done some awesome things with their subfloors!

Like this! This looks awesome! It’s not a long-term plan, but looks way better than kid and dog stained pink carpet!

But then we ripped up the carpet and found laminate parquet flooring underneath! Initially I was thrilled, so now I could just paint the floor a sweet putty color and call it done! But upon taking a good look at the floor we realized how bad of shape it really was in. There were tiles that were cracked and broken. It was just a mess.

Then I remembered we had just bought all that bomb-ass peel & stick vinyl planking for the camper! Bingo!

Before we got started, we used a 5 gallon bucket with 1/2 cup Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface concentrated cleaning solution to scrub the floors. Vinegar would work too, but I love Mrs. Meyer’s!

Soap Box Alert: I freaking love all of Mrs. Meyer’s earth-friendly products and they are now what I use exclusively in my house. Laundry soap, dish detergent, dish soap, everything. They work amazing and smell wonderful. Basil and Lavender are my faves! Grab some at the grocery store next time or order yourself a gift bucket online. This stuff is amazing! I know it’s a little granola-crunching, but I really do care about what our home dumps back into the world. With all of the water problems we’ve been experiencing in Ohio over the last few years, it makes me feel better knowing I’m doing my best not to contribute to that.

Then we just spent an hour or two a night after work peeling and sticking those puppies down! I was really concerned at first about the peel & stick quality. We had used peel & stick once before in a family member’s bathroom and it ended up having to be redone later. This wasn’t really something we were interested in doing. But after we read a lot of reviews about it, we decided this brand had some serious sticky stuff and took a chance! So far, 3 weeks later we’re still really happy. There are a few spots that sort of lift a little bit, but we’re chalking that up to the crappy floor underneath. And if it continues to be an issue, we’ll just grab some sort of adhesive like Liquid Nails and re-peel and stick those suckers back down.

travlastplank

It was a lot of work, but it was easy work. They scored very easily with a knife and then could be snapped by hand to the sizes that we needed. By the time it was all said and done, we were definitely sore for a few days, but we were SUPER happy with the results!

Then after the floor was installed, it took a few more days of rolling around on the floor to measure, cut, paint and install quarter-round throughout the room. My mom had gave us her old air compressor with a brad gun. This was the first time we’d used the gun, and it was a LIFE SAVER. We had the quarter-round nailed down in about 10 minutes!

sparebdrmnew

Here’s the semi-finished product! We still need a headboard and have since got a chest of drawers which we put on the wall at the foot of the bed, but it was a nice starting place and hopefully some fuel to finish up some of the other rooms in the house!

Mainly the master bedroom. Which we’ve been saying we were going to tackle for 8 years now. Blargh!

Well, Happy JULY and to Happy early birthday, ‘Merica! And until next time, stay classy!

Like a Bat Out of Hell

March just flew past like a bat out of hell! No… not like the Meat Loaf song.

MeatLoaf

March was crammed full of massive momentous occasions. I loaded up like Ted Nugent on a safari and went out to the hillbilly range at our friend Edd’s and managed to somewhat overcome my skepticism of loaded weapons. Not only did I get over it, I kind of liked it. I still couldn’t shoot a living thing, but I don’t want to pistol whip gun nuts as much. I ended up collecting a somewhat large pile of brass by the end of the day. I even got to fire my friend’s monster 44 magnum. It was a hand cannon, but not as scary as my husband’s pistol grip shot gun, which actually made several of the dudes shake their hands out after firing it!

I’m still skeptical of 98% of people’s capability to handle and operate a loaded weapon.

And I already posted about getting my first dirt bike and riding it for the first time. Also riding my husbands motorcycle for the first time.

In March, I also celebrated the purchase of my first motorcycle! Though, I have yet to ride it, since Ohio’s springs leave much to be desired by way of the lack of dry roads. I don’t really feel like eating pavement my first time in the seat. 😦

We also mentioned that we managed to finally haul our camper Hell on Wheels home. We had to back her in our driveway at 11pm on a Sunday night.*

*Warning! The next few paragraphs contain my rant about inconsiderate neighbors! I try to keep things here as up-beat as possible, so my apologies for the negativity that follows…

However, since we live on a very small street where the neighbor across the street is kind enough to have four of his unused vehicles parked right across from our driveway, we had to drive through the yard (ugh!) while our seriously awesome next-door neighbor watched from his window while grinding his teeth. Not at us, but because we had to do that, since the guy across the street apparently is running a used car lot. (They have 7 vehicles total. Only 3 people live there, which includes the 40+ year old no-job-having son.)

map

Above is a map to illustrate how we got a 27 foot camper into our driveway. Our house is the one with the yellow star. The used car lot automobiles are the blue ones marked 1-7. Note that 5 is in the driveway and 6 and 7 are actually in the garage! They only operate 6 and 5 on a daily basis. The grey cars are my car (left) and the awesome neighbor’s (right).

This would be the same neighbor who came running out of his house last summer when I parked in front of his house (city streets here = public parking) after I had worked a 11 hour day, then made my 1 hour commute home, yelling at me to move my car because “that’s where his son (yes, the one without a job) parked his van.” Too exhausted to argue with him, I moved my car further up the street. When I told my husband what had happened, it took everything I had to keep him from marching across the street and shoving his size 12 Dr. Marten up the old grump’s butt.

Lately, we’ve been entertaining the idea of moving. We seem to be acquiring more things than we have room for. We really need a garage and more parking. Preferably somewhere where I can’t spit and hit my neighbor’s house!

Anyway… back to Happy Town! So yes, we got the camper parked and started on our biggest DIY project to date! We began disassembling the interior. I ordered the new flooring, we went with vinyl “wood” plank flooring. They look amazing, are supposed to survive the apocalypse and be easy to DIY install. I also made a trip to JoAnn Fabric and picked out the curtain fabric. Then we started tearing up the front wall of the camper where there was some water damage and it appears we may have underestimated the severity of the damage… Womp-womp. *Sad Trombone*

Since we don’t have a garage/barn/inside place, we’ll need at least 2-3 consecutive days of good, dry weather to take off the camper’s siding and repair/replace the water damaged studs and rehang the window. Not to mention, we have to pack up everything and put it away each night. And the kicker is… we only can create ONE city trash can size amount of trash once a week. Those things are like 50 gallons maybe? And, that includes the regular trash we create from the house. Our city’s bulk pickup doesn’t take construction or remodeling refuse, so we’d technically have to pay for a dumpster. Blargh!

Even though the the extent of it all is sort of overwhelming, we’re going to keep our Glass-Half-Full-Hats on and keep on keepin’ on! Because what fun is a project if it doesn’t make you cry, rip your hair out or bleed a few times?!

Here are the photos of our progress thus far. It’s pretty scary. The interior is very reminiscent of the set of the Golden Girls.

We’ve found where the leaks were, removed the old insulation, which was soaking up the water like a sponge and keeping all that wood wet all the time. Hopefully we’ll still be able to get this fixed up and come in under budget. Which is pretty tight, due to the fact that there’s zero sense in investing more money into this thing than we’ll be able to get back out if. This is a starter camper and project piece, but eventually we’d like to downsize to something smaller and lighter. And newer.

But that’s where we are now! We’re hoping to get everything cleaned up and in working order by the end of May so we can enjoy the summer camping season. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

A smorgasbord of posts, if you will!

I love the word “smorgasbord.”

It reminds me of Templeton the rat from Charlotte’s Web singing about how a fair is a smorgasbord-orgasbord.

Today is the first day of Lent… which means… 40 BAGS IN 40 DAYS CHALLENGE!!

What is this you ask? Well, let me just tell you! It’s an awesome “challenge” that I discovered last year thanks to Ann Marie over at White House Black Shutters. I even blogged about it in more detail in this post of yore!

The Basics: You get rid of one bag/box/whatever of “junk” every day for the 40 days of the challenge, which just so happen to coincide with Lent. You can trash, donate, give away, or do anything you want with the stuff! The whole point is just to get rid of the crap!

Since we did this last year, I have a really helpful gauge to measure by: If we haven’t used/worn the item since LAST year’s 40 Bags, it’s gettin’ the boot. Last year we were so B.A. (that means bad ass) at this, we ended up getting rid of:

  1. A Desk
  2. A Treadmill
  3. A Drum set
  4. A King size mattress, box springs and frame
  5. A CAR!!!!!
  6. A Lawn mower
  7. A Weed whacker
  8. An older programmable thermostat
  9. Xbox Kinect (we used it a grand total of one time in the year+ we had it.)
  10. 13 JUMBO contractor sized bags of clothing and shoes & coats (donated to Goodwill)
  11. 2 large boxes of misc stuff
  12. 3 pieces of “house ware”
  13. And this HUGE pile of crap that came out of the shed that went to bulk pickup. Coolers, a recliner, vanity mirrors, broke tvs, vacuum, carpet cleaner… etc.

Goodbye Trash

And I’ve done a pretty damn good job of keeping up with the clutter over the year. It feels so damn good to purge! I’ve even minimized the amount of “goo” I keep in my shower! I was so sick of knocking crap onto the floor of the shower, so now I have less product than my husband does. 2 of the 4 shelves in my shower are even completely bare. Gasp!

So long story short, we still have (uuuuugh!!) a master bedroom and a laundry room to whip into shape. And unfortunately, someone *cough*Travis*cough* fell a little behind on the shed again, so these are going to be the main focus over the next 40 days. Squee!

Because you know what?

  1. You don’t need all of this stuff.
  2. It won’t make you happier.
  3. Your home should not make you feel overwhelmed or stressed.
  4. You do not need to be embarrassed.
  5. You can do this. (repeat that)
  6. You are not alone in feeling this way.

Jump on the band wagon! It’s fantastic! (I’m selling the Kool-Aid!)

Get all the juiciest of details at the White House Black Shutters website. She even has a cool little printout so you can keep track of all the decrapifying you’ve done!

GOOD LUCK! And, ahem… May the Force be with you.


Castle Crashers

Landolls Pic
Travis, DJ, Mandi and Me – I’m doing what my family refers to as “bite the apple.” I thought everyone else was doing it, but apparently I was the only one, so that explains why I look kind of like an opera singer.

We got another chance to do a little tiny bit of traveling over the Valentines Day weekend! We ventured about 2 hours north of Columbus to a little place in the middle of the Mohican State Forest, called Landoll’s Mohican Castle.

My sister and her main squeeze joined us, which was fantastic because I think we might have been bored otherwise. With it being winter, there wasn’t a whole lot to do, but we had a lot of fun enjoying each other’s company, playing cards and having some adult beverages and relaxing!

It was about 2 degrees out with wind chills around -10 degrees, plus there was sort of a mini-blizzard while we were there, so we couldn’t really go outside and enjoy nature. Except for the part where I fell down in a cemetery that was on the property. #fail

We enjoyed this toasty little fireplace and being all snuggled up together and warm and safe while being snowed in!

He's misplaced his pipe.
He’s misplaced his pipe.

You can read my Yelp! review of Landoll’s here. There were a few snags, but overall the place was really really cool, but we felt like it was a tad over-priced, especially in the winter when there isn’t as much of a draw to the area. We would most certainly go back sometime, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for specials and discounts or head back when it’s canoeing season, since Mohican is prime for that!

We made friends with one the sweet waitresses at the Stepping Stone Restaurant which was on the grounds of Landoll’s. (HI BECKI!!)

We got a little tip from one of the locals that should come back sometime and check out the Mohican Treehouses! They look so cool (I always wanted a treehouse), AND they have outdoor showers, which is possibly one of my favorite things in the world!

So there’s all of that. We don’t have any more traveling fun planned until Memorial Day weekend, which is our Memorial Day Extravaganza trip. We take a trip every year, but our most “memorable” MDE trip was chronicled here in The Boat From Hell part one AND two!


Honorable Mentions

Some other honorable mentions from my blogging hiatus…

FullSizeRenderMeet Elvis. Travis got this for me for Valentines Day. It is a real freaking stuffed teddy bear. No, we don’t have any idea what we’re going to do with him.

I also got this. Well, one just like this. This photo doesn’t do it any justice.

Which if you’re someone who knows me well, you would probably think that this was a joke.

I’m not “into” guns. I grew up around guns. I’ve used guns, I know how to shoot them, I know about gun safety, I’m actually even a better shot than Travis is and I’m into western movies. Hell, Wyatt Earp is my dude!

But I hate guns.

Not to be all dramatic, but long story-short, I got car-jacked when I was 20. The punk ass stuck a gun in my face. He fired the gun, not at me thank heavens, but it was still a little rattling. I’ve also had several friends who were killed as a result of accidents with guns. Not to mention a few that weren’t accidents. Ugh.

I  also feel like some people use guns (like they do their trucks) as a measuring tape in which to measure their… junk.

Well hubs, my sister and my future-bro-in-law talked me into shooting their shotgun. Lo-and-behold, it was kind of fun. Loud. But fun.

So Travis had hope that he could get me a little more comfortable with the whole gun situation, so he bought me a Ruger 10/22. A rifle with a little less kick, something I can hopefully enjoy without the fear of killing myself or others and/or losing my hearing.

As I mentioned before, it’s been below freezing for weeks here in Ohio, so in order to shoot my new gift, we ventured out to a local shooting range over the weekend. Bad decision. Neither of us had been to a range before, so I guess we didn’t really know what to expect.

It was so… freaking… loud… And crowded. The a-holes a few lanes down had rented a gun from the range. Listening to the staff member talking about it, he exclaimed how it was the largest caliber that they allowed at indoor ranges. Super. The concussion from it was so strong, it actually sucked the breath out of your lungs every time it was fired.

I also stood and watched as each of the 8 dumbasses taking turns firing it kept setting it down on the counter… with the safety off… fully loaded. The staff dude kept asking them over and over if they set the safety. They just laughed and said “Uhh, no. Whoops.”

Whoops my ass.

Aren’t these places supposed to be like the mecca of safety and knowledge?! It was like recess at the gun range. It seems common sense isn’t very common anymore! So after about 15 minutes, we left. Travis was just as frustrated as I was, if not more so.

I won’t let it completely discourage me. I’d just rather set up some tin cans on a fence post like I did when I was a kid and do things the old fashioned way, where I know the people I’m sharing a “range” with aren’t going to shoot me in the face!

Oh spring, come quick!

I’m still alive!

I realize it may seem like I have fallen off the face of the earth, but I haven’t! The last few months have been a whirlwind and the winds of change have been a-blowin’! (And no I’m not talking about the 80’s power ballad by Scorpions.)

This week I finally decided to get back on the proverbial horse and get this blog thang fired up again. I’m taking a small sabbatical from social media for a little bit and directing that time and energy into the blog and my house again. (FINALLY!)

We’ve been chugging away at a few small projects here and there, we got our basement totally cleaned up (minus the laundry room – ugh). And last week we started overhauling on our master bedroom again! (Just a reminder, that this room has been used for storage for 2+ years and the piles of misc. bullshit have really, er… piled up!)

I am also going to do the 40 Bags in 40 days challenge again this year! But that isn’t for another few months. I’m sure I’ll start a running tally again on how much junk we manage to purge.

I also have a new house project possibly in the pipes. I promised hubs if he helped me get the master bedroom cleared out, re-floored and painted, that we would build a new shed this spring. Our old shed was not put on the proper foundation and is literally (<—the correct usage of the word!) rotting from the ground up. Also, we need a shed that is twice the size of our current shed. So friends + family: We’re going to have a shed-raising party this spring! Burgers and dogs will be on us, come spend a Saturday morning/afternoon with us and we will reward you handsomely with delicious noms!

But the big winner-winner-chicken-dinner is… I got a new job in November! BOOM!

I am now working at a design agency in the Arena District here in Columbus. My drive to work now is 12-17 minutes depending on traffic, as opposed to my previous haul of 45-60 minutes one way. That drive was slowly sucking my will to live. In my new job, I’m being utilized and feel like a part of a team, where in my old job, I kind of felt like I was sitting in a corner collecting dust and not being able to shake what my momma gave me! I was at my old job for over 8 years, and I still got love for ’em, but a lady always knows when it’s time to leave.

So, that’s all I’ve got for now. Not much of a post, more of an update! I’m not dead, I promise!

Basement Blues

I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before that the “utility” side of my basement gives me the jeebs.

Our house was built in 1971 as a one story sort-of ranch. Somewhere down the line, a previous owner hand-dug our basement. Hand. Dug. Our adorable neighbor, Fred and his wife were the first family to move into our neighborhood back in the day, so he knows just about everything about everyone in the area. He told us that the previous owner had brought the buckets of dirt up one at a time until it was all completed. I couldn’t even imagine… I would have stroked out!

So the finished part is just fine. Although it is a mushroomy-tan color from floor to ceiling (underneath all of the band posters that we’ve plastered on the walls as an homage to our youth), it is still a cool place to hang out when we have parties. However, due to our last party’s unfortunate turn of events, we decided we’ll probably be having wayyyy fewer parties. So we agreed that we’d like to start using the basement on a daily basis more.

We used to have “band practice” down there. Ha! That was back when we were all chain smokers so we didn’t even need a fog machine to feel like rock stars. You could actually go outside and see the smoke billowing out of the small window. EW!

There has never been cable run down there and the stereo sucks and the furniture is all old and college frat/crack house-ish, so we never really had much desire to spend any real amount of time down there. So before we do start chillin’ like bro-skies down there, we’ve got some work to do. And making the basement a crash-pad is kind of the last thing on our list of things we wanna/need to do right now. 😦

I’ve sort of gone off on a tangent in the wrong direction. I have a bad habit of doing that, my apologies! Allow me to start over!


I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before that the “utility” side of my basement gives me the jeebs. And next on the Casa Awesomesauce DO-OR-DIE!-LIST (that’s what I’m calling our to-do list from now on – DOD!L for short) is:

To get the shelves in our laundry room cleaned up and to reorganize and streamline the crawl space.

We made the executive decision to push this task to the front of the Do-Or-Die! List so we can get all of the things that are currently living in my master bedroom into storage where they really belong! (Remember this winter when there was a lawn mower living in there?! Old post about that here.)

Basement Blueprint

Since I don’t have pictures (the lighting down there sucks real bad) I have made this festive blueprint for you . As you can see, we really don’t have a WHOLE lot to work with. The crawl space is about 7 ft wide (and full of broken glass!) and about 12 ft deep. Then there’s that weird L curve. What’s that all about? Note that the PINK LINE in the laundry room is only a half wall. It comes up to about 4 feet and that’s where the crawl space begins. You actually have to climb over our washer & dryer to get to it. (Ugh. Hopefully going to relocate those to the wall where the freezer is eventually.)

The crawl space is gravel bottomed and as I’ve referred to in a previous post (here) is my Kevin Bacon Stir of Echoes crawl space. It’s the kind of space that prevents me from doing laundry when Travis isn’t home (or without the shotgun).

Stir of Echoes
We even have one of these bare light bulbs with the pull string!!! $#%&!!! I’m never going to be able to go down there again without this image in my mind.

It also doesn’t help that Travis stores our Halloween props in the crawl space… Including this guy who stares out at me like a bastard when I’m trying to fold my laundry. Couldn’t have even found a box for that?!

Known as "the Fuming Rotter" or the "Thing that makes pants full of shit."
Known as “the Fuming Rotter” or the “Thing that makes pants full of shit.”

So last week, Hubster bought an 8-pack of 18 gallon storage containers so we could start cleaning up the shelves, which contained tons of crappy boxes filled with poorly packed hand-me-down dishes, old college art supplies, boxes of shoes and other random home goods. I ended up purging probably 4 utility-size trash bags of sheer trash! I have a big box of donate stuff and only have 2 small boxes of stuff to re-home! I was kind of awesomely proud of myself since I’ve always been kind of nostalgia crazy. (I am pretty sure I don’t need my college Nerf Gun foam disc collection anymore.) We’re now going to designate our shelves in the basement to all of our non-Halloween holiday, camping and painting gear!

I found this printable storage container label online that I’m going to use to label each storage container so I don’t have to dig through them to find what I need.

The eventual end goal (after we get the bedroom done) is to turn the laundry room into a more user-friendly, less scary spot where I can do my thing without fearing for my life by accomplishing the following:

  • Paint the floor using this stuff that a lot of people use in garages and utility rooms (currently the floor is brick red which is scraped up really bad showing this lovely hospital-gown-green underneath.) Anything at this point would be an improvement!
  • Enclosing the exposed joists overhead with bead board or something similar to finish the ceiling and cover up the 9 billion wires and pipes that run through the joists.
  • Finish the drywall on one small wall where the door is (about 4 foot of wall in total).
  • Paint the cinder block walls, shelves, pipes etc so they look nice and clean.
  • Install a glass block window to replace the current out-dated and not-so-energy-efficient louvered window that we don’t even open because it’s super gross dusty/cobweb/bug covered.
  • Use either shower curtains or match-stick blinds to hide the crawl space without lessening access to it.

laundry room inspiration

Hopefully in the end it will look somewhat like this photo above! I love how they just used a super-tall table over top of the washer/dryer for folding & storage! That would be a super easy hack to a thrift store or garage sale find, or make our own table top. We could just use modified porch balusters or something similar for the legs, I’d think. But Hubs doesn’t like how low our washer & dryer sit, so they may end up going on top of washer/dryer pedestals or something like that that we DIY ourselves. Those pedestals are like $100-200 a PIECE! But it all looks pretty cozy and not so zombie-infested, no?

Wax Ecstatic – Homemade Citronella Candles

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I love the smell of Citronella. I know some people hate it, but I think it’s awesomesauce!

Maybe because it reminds me of summertime and sitting on my back porch with my BFFs or of sitting out on the dock at the lake as a kid. Whatever the case, the smell makes me happy. And luckily that smell really honks off mosquitos! So I’m really killing two bugs birds with one stone!

So recently I found a pin on Pinterest on how to make your own citronella candles that really tickled my fancy! I decided this would be a relatively cheap and fun adventure with a low risk of me completely destroying something or burning down my house!

It was actually really super easy. I read up on several other sites on the best way to do things, and sort of tweaked the recipe a little bit to how it would work best for me. Garden Therapy and a few other folks used their old candles and melted them down. I however chose to order some soy wax online. (I got a 10lb bag for under $20.) I like the feel and smell of soy wax a lot better, I think they burn cleaner and are easier to clean up after should something spill.

If you’d like to give it a try, this is how I did it and what you’ll need:

  1. Cans (I used soup cans)
  2. A double boiler (I used a big stock pot with a smaller older sauce pan inside it)
  3. A Metal cookie cutter (to keep your wax pot propped off the bottom of the water pot so it doesn’t over-heat the wax)
  4. A ladle
  5. Soy Wax chips/shavings
  6. Pre-Waxed wicks with tabs (measure your can, you want the wick to be at least as tall as your can, you can trim it if need be)
  7. Citronella (or whatever scent you like) Essential Oil
    NOT E – NOT  the oil that you put in your tiki torches… get yourself a good essential oil. I really like Piping Rock’s oils and they are very affordable.
  8. Some sort of glue to glue the wicks to the bottom of your can. I used super glue, hot glue would work… whatever you have laying around!
  9. Clothespins (2 for every can)
  10. Some twine, jute ribbon or anything else if you’d like to decorate the can afterwards

Directions:

1. Set up your cans with wicks.

I don’t have a baby hand, so I couldn’t fit my hand into the can to smash the glue-covered wick tab against the bottom to adhere it. So I used a straw. I slid the string end of the wick into the straw, then squeezed the straw to hold onto the wick inside of it and then used the straw to press the wick tab against the bottom of the tab until the glue set.

Someone else said they used a white Bic pen tube. I guess that would work, but I thought it would be hard to keep the wick in the tube.

Candle 5

 

2. Measure out your wax. I just eyeballed mine! (I think I ended up using probably 10-15 cups of wax for 3 cans. I added it in two batches since wax chips take up significantly more room than melted wax does. I let the first bowl full melt, then slowly added in more chips.)

 

Candle 1

 

3. Set up your double boiler. You want your water at a nice SIMMER… boiling is not necessary and will actually probably make things harder for you! Put the metal cookie cutter in the pot with water, then set your pot with wax on TOP of the cookie cutter. This keeps your wax pot off the bottom of the water pot. I don’t know if this is completely needed, but since I wasn’t using a candy thermometer, and wasn’t interested in catching my house on fire, I used a cookie cutter.

 

Candle 2

 

4. The wax will sort of melt like cold butter does. It melts rather quickly so make sure you don’t wander off during this step! You’ll want to stir it until it becomes a clear liquid and there are no more chunks of solid wax in it! Some people use a candy thermometer for this. I don’t have one, so I was just REALLY careful and guessed when it was ready. If you’re nervous about this part, please use a thermometer.

Helpy-Helperton NOTE:
The melting point of soy wax is 122 degrees.
You want a pour temp of about 125 degrees.

The flash point (FIRE!) of soy wax is 450 degrees! Please be safe about this and do not leave your wax unattended!

 

Candle 3

 

 

5. Ok so now that your wax is “molten” (that’s kind of a scary word), you can add your citronella!

I used a teaspoon or so, maybe like 20 drops? I didn’t really measure this part, I just added and stirred until I thought it smelled nice!
I guess the rule of thumb is 1 oz of Citronella oil per pound of wax.

 

Candle 4

 

6. Stir for about one minute to make sure the oil is mixed well.

 

7. Adhere the clothespins to the wicks to keep the wicks straight while you pour and while they are cooling. You don’t want your wicks to move at all while cooling.
Then carefully ladle your molten wax into your cans. I filled three cans up to about an inch under the top.

 

Candle 6

 

8. Let your cans cool in a warm place undisturbed for at least 48 hours before using!

 

Candle 7

 

9. Decorate the outside of your cans with twine or ribbon or jute ribbon for a cute, rustic, finished look!

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Skip-to-ma-LOO

 

See what I did there?

Last night we added one more skill to our ever-expanding list of DIY capabilities! Plumbing.

Even though we’ve dabbled in plumbing before… we’ve replaced garbage disposals, faucets, drains and last spring our water heater tank crapped out on us (oh the puns in this post!). I woke up one Thursday morning to enjoy my daily steamy shower, only to be blessed with what felt like glacial run-off coming out of our shower head.

After consulting Tony the Tiger (my dad, the go-to for all home related questions), he felt confident we’d be capable of replacing it on our own. So after work that night, we rolled up our sleeves and plunged in.

Long story short: They didn’t make tanks like our old one any more. So we actually had to cut, rearrange and weld new copper water pipes to feed the water supply into the water tank. After about 10 trips to a few different hardware stores, a whole weekend without water (every time we turned the main back on, the pipes to the water heater leaked profusely), that Sunday night around 7pm (after a gas leak scare) we finally had hot water. Whew!

And yes, we did shower that weekend. My BFFs Amanda and Bryon were kind enough to allow us to shower at their place! Thanks guys!

Even tho the whole hot water tank situation really pissed us off at the time, we were kind of glad to have the opportunity to learn to do something new, and that we saved quite a bit of money doing it ourselves. There’s just something fulfilling in brushing off the dust at the end and admiring your handy work.

So when we finally got fed up with our eternally slow-dripping wall-hung toilet last night, we rolled up our sleeves again and realized that you don’t always have to be a plumber *or a pro* to be able to fix something. Luckily,  it all boiled down to some rusty screws, deteriorated seals and a not-fully-tightened water connection. We were thrilled that it didn’t end up being something we had to call in a professional for and spend an arm and a leg to have replaced.  No butt crack required! Wooo!

But there are still A LOT of things that we’re still petrified to do or just simply refuse to do ourselves. Mostly electrical or things that require special equipment.

There are also a lot of things that we have ALREADY done and can do relatively efficiently. Like upholstery, hanging siding, painting, drywalling, a lot of automotive stuff… (Travis is the automotive guy, I try to help and learn what and where I can.) We’ve replaced everything from brakes, to two fuel pumps (ugh both required dropping the tank, one in the blistering summer heat, and one in the frigid arctic winter – and we don’t have a garage). We put my completely deer-wrecked Sunfire back together with Frankenstein parts (new hood, doors, headlights etc…) We completely rebuilt our first motorcycle, a 1983 Honda Nighthawk and did a LOT of work on our second ’99 Yamaha Vstar… We rehabbed a pop-up camper, rebuilt a ski boat from scratch without anything but the hull! (Which we traded for our Vstar!)

I could go on, but you get the idea!

Anyway, the point is we don’t really have any real training on any of this stuff. We just kind of have had to do a lot of it, mostly to save some money. I guess we’ve always been into “DIY” and just didn’t realize it. There’s almost always something going on around our house, I’m just really stoked that we’re finally getting around to doing all this fun stuff IN the house!

40 Bags Challenge Update

40 day challenge

Over the weekend we went, pardon the expression, balls to the walls, and got rid of some big items that had been lurking around the house for years and never really had purpose or a home. In the purging we managed to make a little cash too!

We managed to purge:

  • My corner desk from college that hadn’t been used as a desk for 5+ years. It was actually being used as an over-sized night stand. A little overkill, I know. That’s why it’s done-zo! Sold that monstrosity for $20.
  • A manual treadmill I bought a few years ago that I immediately decided I hated. Walking on it was like pushing 50 shopping carts full of cement uphill. I tried to recoup the $75 I spent on it on Craigslist by reposting it at the same price a few years ago. After the listing expired twice, I decided to drop the listing to $40. It walked out the door Saturday!
  • Travis’ drum set! Thank heavens! That damn thing has lived in our basement living area, in our crawl space, at a friend’s house… it was time for those things to go. We both posted listings and raced to see who could get rid of them faster… some sucker fell for his story of  “My wife, the ruiner of my dreams to one day be Tommy Lee is forcing me to get rid of my set…” We got $125.00 for them!
  • Our king size mattress set. The one in our master bedroom, it’s only a few years old. But we got it at some bargain outlet crap-hole and after a few months of sleeping on it we both were waking up in the morning feeling like we were 75 years old. The pillow top just isn’t supportive enough for us apparently. So we’ve been sleeping in our guest bedroom on and off for several years now. So since we’re not using the king set, we decided to donate it to the Columbus Furniture Bank. They will come pick it up for free and it will go to a family or person who is on hard times and can’t afford a bed! Which is pretty awesome for us and for them!
  • My car… Yes… I would assume not many people oust a vehicle during the 40 Day challenge. Travis hit a deer in it in November 2012. Since then we’ve been slowly replacing the damaged parts with used parts from Pick N Pull, our local car parts scrap yard… Well two weeks ago, I got a letter from the state requiring proof of insurance on it. Luckily it was still considered inoperable so I wasn’t required to cover insurance on it. But I still had to jump through a LOT of hoops to acquire proof of it’s inoperability. In the end they accepted and did not require insurance, but it was just the final straw for me with that car. It had been wrecked 3 times and stolen from me at gun-point (yes, true story!)… this car was kind of bad ju-ju for me. I had a lot of great memories attached to it as well, with some amazing road trips etc. But Travis and I both have another car now so it was just sitting in the driveway. We put an ad up for it as well and it was gone by Saturday!

So there are a few more odds and ends laying around that we think we can probably sell or donate, but this was a pretty big start. Plus all the proceeds we made from selling our junk we plan to use to buy a new NOT CRAP-TASTIC bed and possibly that new laminate flooring I’ve been dreaming about for so long now!

So we counted a few more bags for all our hard work over the weekend. We still have a few more areas of the house we’re going to address, so I didn’t want to finish the challenge yet. This 40 Bags in 40 Days thing has been a pretty awesome challenge. I don’t know why we didn’t just do it ourselves before! Better late than never.

I LOVE LAMP… Shade!

Ok, so this is kind of my first DIY hack… I found this amazingly awesome lamp shade that I LERVE at Lowes on Saturday. I had been looking to replace my 10 year old, extremely juvenile, multi-color multi-armed lamp circa my college days, which finally took the midnight train to Splitsville a few weeks ago. Since then, I have been changing and putting away clothes in my closet room for a week by flashlight. (It’s always an adventure at my house!) I thought it was probably time to accept the loss and make a new purchase.

 

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Mmm, so Chevron-y!

 

The only problem with this amazingly awesome lamp shade was that it was for a standard lamp. The shade has the three metal arms which connect to the top of the shade and then bend down almost to the bottom of the shade where they meet a big ring. You sit this ring around the top of your lamp and then screw the bulb in through the ring, and the bulb keeps the shade in place. Which after doing some research, I found out was called a “Slip UNO Fitter”. What I really needed for this light kit was a “Spider Fitter”. Silly me!

 

LAMP!
For your lampy pleasure!

 

This normally would not be a big deal, but I had been dreaming of putting a pendant light in there with an amazing drum shade. Drum shades are kind of a big thing right now, and normally I don’t follow the “in” crowd, but I really REALLY liked this shade! Chevrons are so dreamy!

So to make a long story short… this lamp shade was not meant to be used as a pendant lamp. Sadness.

But Travis, being the hacker that he usually is, thought he could find a way to make it work. But alas, when we arrived home… his only idea did not pan out. So that’s where my big ol’ brains came in! And it didn’t even involve duct tape OR zip ties!

Get yourself the following:

  1. A Slip UNO Fitter lamp shade you wish to use for a pendant light
  2. A pendant light kit (available just about everywhere lamps are sold)
  3. Some thin, twistable yet durable wire (garden wire worked out just dandy!)
  4. A washer that fits on the swag light kit
  5. Some wire cutters or anything that will cut through the wire you’ve chosen

 

Washer fitting
The washer has to fit loosely over this piece. When you’re done, the white cap on the bottom unscrews, slip the washer on (with wires attached) then screw the cap back on.

 

 

photo (3)

 

photo (1)

 

photo
This one’s out of order, I know…

 

So this is where it get’s tricky for me to explain, even though it’s SUPER easy to do and took me less than 3 minutes to do. I’m just new to this whole DIY, step by step instructions, explaining thing!

  1. Cut three pieces of wire the exact same length. (If your lamp has four arms inside the shade, use four wires. If it only has two, only use two wires etc!)
    I cut mine to be about 12 inches. This is what is going to hang your shade from the pendant kit.
  2. Using about 1-2 inches of your wire, wrap each piece of wire around the washer once or twice and then twist it so it will not come off the washer.
    (Like how you use a twist tie on a bread bag!) But make sure your wires are all the still the same length! You may have to unwrap and re-wrap a time or two, but make sure your wires are the same length, so the shade hangs evenly in the end.photo (4)
  3. At the other end of the wires, the part that’s not attached to the washer, measure one inch, then bend the wire to mark that point. Do this with each of the wires.
  4. Now “twist tie” these ends of the wires to the “arms” inside the lamp shade. One wire for each “arm”.photo (5)
  5. Unscrew the “cap” on the pendant kit, slide the washer with the wires attached to it onto the threaded piece and then screw the cap back on.
photo (2)
Mine is a tad messy looking, but after I hung it, I realized you can’t see ANY of the wires unless you’re looking up through the bottom. After I put the diffuser on it you won’t be able to see them at all.

 

At this point, you’re pretty much finished! You can hang your light as is. I thought about cutting off the extra lamp ring and the excess length of arms on the inside of the lamp, but eventually I plan to use that to affix something to the bottom to serve as a “diffuser” shade so you wouldn’t be able to see up into the shade where the light bulb is. It gives it more of a “finished” look. But at this point, I was just eager to get some light in my closet room, so I hung mine up and will put the shade in later.

 

See the shade at the bottom? It’s just a plastic-y piece that fits in there so you can’t see the ugly bulb and so it’s a softer light.