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Framing is all finished and the cement has been poured.  We were home during the pour on one of my LTFT days and Arden was fascinated.  We watched until one of the guys’ pants went waaaaay beyond plumber’s crack.  I have to say in my experience, that plumber’s crack is an entirely earned title.  Along with brickeys and siding guys…  One of life’s lessons learned as the daughter of a home builder.  I should point out that my Dad never suffered from this problem.  High-waisted underwear and a belt were his solutions!

Dave was surprised that I didn’t take Arden to put handprints in the cement, but they guys were working it until it was cured enough to walk on.  I know that my Dad spent enough time trying to keep people from writing in wet cement to have tried it.  Dad would suggest to homeowners that they find a penny with the year on it and put it in a corner of the cement.

The siding should be in next week and the garage door sometime the following week.  We have the same electricians who re-wired our house last year lined up.  They left some tails of wire when they did the re-wire with the planned garage reconstruction in mind.



Day two of framing, and I think I’m in love!  Okay, it’s a tad on the obnoxiously tall side, but we got the wall height variance and the neighbors had the opportunity to contest it at that point.  C’est la vie, or so they say…  Now I think we might need to do some exterior upgrades on the house so the garage doesn’t overshadow it.

I don’t have any fun projects completed to post, so I’ll just do a quick wrap up of what’s been going on.

We broke ground – literally – on our garage reconstruction.  On Thursday, they took out the old slab, dug for the footings, and put in the foundation walls.  We’re using a treated lumber foundation instead of block cement.  It’s pretty interesting to see.  My brother Jeff is taking a class that was discussing treated lumber foundations, so he came out and took some photos.  On Friday, they backfilled and compacted the fill sand.  The framing and concrete guys are working on other jobs right now, so they’re not expected for a week and a half or so.  But, great progress!

Also on Friday, Arden dissapeared into the breakfast nook and was awfully quiet for a minute, so I went to go find her.  We’ve learned that when things get quiet, somethings up!  Arden had taken all her soft toys out of one of the Tub Trugs we use to store her toys in and dragged it into the kitchen and climbed in.  Of course I grabbed the camera instead of helping her out!

Saturday was CMU’s homecoming, so I took Arden.  I got there just at the right time to get a tour of my sorority house and a cup of coffee before the parade started.  Arden’s favorites were the horse drawn carriages and floats with dogs.  That’s my girl!  I took some photos of her at the house – can I brag a bit about the shirt I made for her, and the sweater I knitted when I was pregnant?  That sweater has fit her (okay, it’s a little small now) for about a year – totally worth the time it took to knit!

After we got home from the parade, I got started on the chairs I showed you from the ReStore.  I got the seat off one and sanded it down.  I probably got a bit ambitious with the sander since I’m going to prime and paint them, but oh well.  I’ve also been working a bit each day on a cow costume for a friend’s son.  I’m pretty excited about how it’s turning out.  I had to use a devil costume pattern since I couldn’t find a toddler cow pattern, and I’m appliquéing (is there actually a verb for appliqué?) on the cow spots since the only cow fabric I found was novelty cotton and not thick enough to keep him warm.  So, I’m using fleece and getting creative with my scissors while watching chick flicks – my husband had started watching Step Up, it wasn’t my idea!  Yes, my husband has — um — varied taste in entertainment!  I guess it’s all fair, since I like to craft, sew, quilt, and knit and also am into marathons, adventure races, and Muay Thai kickboxing.

So, the last time we talked about the garage reconstruction, it looked like this:

Garage Demolition

Since then, we cleaned up the last bits of the structure and crammed it all into the rented dumpster – barely. 

The builder came out and checked the foundation and it’s not adequate for the new garage.  So, that meant the lovely black walnut tree you can see apparently holding up the neighbor’s dilapidated garage was in danger.  I spoke to an arborist and he said it would either not survive or would become unstable after they dug for the footings and therefore needed to come down.

I called and arranged for the tree removal, which I have to say was an unexpectedly easy experience.  I called, the tree removal guy came to my house within a couple of hours and called me back with a bid.  I told him I had made another call and wanted to give them a chance to call back.  The other guy didn’t call back the next day so I called the first guy back and asked them to schedule the removal.  He said it would be Thursday.  Fine.  They called Monday around 2 PM and said they would start taking it down within the hour.  By the time I came home Monday evening, the tree was gone.  A week later the second guy called back.  Um, you’re a tad late Mister.

I took all the plans and paperwork on to City Hall and got our building permit.  Woo hoo!  We’re official!

We then needed to get the stump ground so it wasn’t in the way of the new garage.  We also had a couple of other stumps to be ground, or we would have had them do it the same day.  Once we were ready for all the stumps to be done, I called the tree guy on Monday.  He said it would probably be Tuesday.  Fine.  They knocked on my door two hours later and were there to grind the stumps.  Is there such a thing as being too prompt in the service industry?

So, next step is the builder will construct the treated lumber footings and come the same day with the excavator and remove the old slab and dig the trenches for the footings and the drain.

Cross your fingers!  We’re off to the races now!

Arden's play refrigerator

I am super-geeked about this project.  Arden loves it already, and I am pretty darn pleased with myself for making it for her!  Super-hubby Dave has been busy with major outdoor projects for several recent weekends (fence installation, garage demolition), so I decided that Labor day weekend would be my DIY weekend.  I was inspired by Brittany on Mommy Words post for a DIY Play Kitchen.  I found the same plans on Lowe’s that Brittany used.  

First, to get a little time without “help” from Arden.  The win-win solution:  A hike with Daddy!  

Gearing up for a hike with Daddy

  1. I had the plywood cut at Lowe’s.  Since I don’t have a table saw, this seemed like the easiest solution.  They didn’t even charge me a cutting fee.  I had to cut the 1x6x8 board for the rails, stiles, toe kick, and cleats using a skill saw.

    All cut and ready to go

  2. Construction of the box.  The plans called for actual cabinetry construction with pocket screws.  I didn’t think this required that level of craftsmanship, so I glued and nailed the box together, and then glued and nailed the rails and stiles, etc. to the box.  Much quicker and in the end, way easier to fudge the inaccurate cuts (Lowe’s, not mine of course!).

    Completed box

  3. I filled in the gaps, nail holes and the rough ends of the plywood with wood filler, then sanded everything down.  Arden had since returned from her hike with Daddy, and was now “helping”.  Good thing she wasn’t around for the sawing and hammering!  Sophie the dog also got into the action by repeatedly stealing one of the sanding blocks and running away with it.

    Arden "helping"

  4. I painted the cabinet light blue to match the garage sale find kitchen play set I already had, and put the 12″ deep wire shelving onto the cleats.

    Arden using her partially complete play fridge

  5. I attached the doors to the cabinet using flush mount self-closing hinges.  Arden “helped” some more.

Now for some of the things I did that I think are really cool:  

  1. I attached a Closetmaid spice rack to the inside of the refrigerator door to act like the door organizers.

    Spice rack as a shelf doors

  2. I made handles out of dowels painted with stainless steel spray paint to match the kitchen play set.

    Dowels for handles

  3. I primed the refrigerator and freezer doors with magnetic paint before painting them the darker blue to match the kitchen play set.  Now she can attach magnets to her completed refrigerator!  I love it!

    Magnetic primer

So, here’s the completed project with the kitchen play set I was matching it to.  The scale is a little bit off, but I like the size of the play fridge for Arden.  

Complete play kitchen

Good luck!  This was a pretty ambitious project for me, but I think it was totally worth it and turned out really well.  Please feel free to comment with any questions.

It’s funny how big projects seem to stretch out forever, and then all of a sudden, things come together seemingly overnight.  We’ve been working on a garage reconstruction project for about a year.  We started by asking my brother to draw up some plans for us.   We wanted to mirror the roofline of our house to give us some additional storage in the loft area.

Garage Elevation

He did a beautiful job, and then we began the process of getting a variance since our proposed structure exceeded the wall height dimension for our local building codes.  That took some time, since they only reviewed variance applications once a month and the offices are only open during the workday.  Once we submitted all the paperwork around April, Dave and my brother attended the hearing to present it to the zoning board.  Arden and I attended, and we tried our best not to be a distraction. 

Our application was approved, so then we needed to begin lining up our contractor.  My parents and my brother are friends with Chris Ratcliffe of Ratcliffe Builders, so we wanted to get an estimate from him.  The estimate came in at the beginning of August for a bit less than we expected, so we’re going with it.

Demolition.  Dave wanted to hire my brother Jeff and my nephew Nathan to help with the demolition.  Jeff is going back to school this fall, so this set an automatic deadline for us of August 29.  Dave arranged for the dumpster, and set up time with Jeff and Nathan to start demo on August 27, thinking it would take a couple of weekends.

Friday, the 30-yard dumpster arrived in our driveway and Jeff and Nathan arrived in the afternoon to start on “some really easy stuff” while Dave was picking up some supplies.  By the end of  Friday, the doors were off, and all the wood siding.

Demolition begins

Saturday said good-bye to the roof

Roof going

Roof gone

And Sunday saw the end of the garage.  It only took the one weekend, and they completely filled the dumpster.  My nephew learned a good lesson about hard work in the process.  Who knows how long the rest of the project will take, but at least there’s been a big forward leap in progress. 

Final pieces

We made a squirrel family homeless in the process, but at least we can rest easier knowing that the weather is still nice and they have plenty of time to seek alternate accommodations.   I can stop having to clean squirrel poop off my car, and Dave will be able to cruise right into his parking spot instead of having to perform stunt-driver-worthy manuevers to get into the garage while avoiding hitting the house/fence/garage door/garage wall.


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