Tag Archive | diy


Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon!  I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair.  We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend.  However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good.  Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done.  On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly.  Then we installed the door.  It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest!  We had everything going for us;

  • High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
  • We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
  • everything was square to start!  that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.

The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not).  The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that.  It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.


roof tarp secure, door installed.  (Lars’s look of concern is not about the door)

Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal.  Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time.  I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.


Our crew this year

The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather.  This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house.  I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play.  They play nicely for ages.  It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.


they ended up with 3 snow people and a fort started in the front yard

There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’.  It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked.  The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.



In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises.  The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats.  The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great.  I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.

The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life.  I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.

It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy.  Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.



Racing the weather

Since Sunday I’ve been spending all my time shed building.  Timeline got critical because a big (early) snowstorm is predicted for tonight so it was pretty much the last chance to build my shed.  The shed has been pushed off all season because;

  1. very very wet spring, like standing water all spring
  2. Needed to research and decide and research and read and ask etc this takes a long time in my world, I probably should have started last January to actually be ready for a May build.
  3. You know, life, and kids and extra kids, travel, and the summer just flew and I’m not a fan of working in super hot sun either.
  4. Other projects stole time and resources, I did build a Pergola and a garden structure this year as well as some indoor things but the shed was always on my mind.
  5. Fall went back to rain every weekend, very non-conducive to getting something built.

Finally, I decided what I wanted, how it should go, and the weather was not wet and so last week I started digging foundation just in time for a hard freeze BUT there was a predicted nice week (this week) so in many ways this entire shed has been actually built between Sunday and today.


this was all I had done before Sunday.  Square and Level is a good start though.


Kids loved banging nails.  We had to add a little support to most wisely use our wood.

It was a team effort, even the kids helped, and everyone had fun doing it.  The impending snow was the challenge we needed to really get moving.  I have worked pretty constantly the past 3 days with breaks to drive kids or go to the hardware store.  If it was summer we could have done so much more because it is light out until 8pm but a 4:30 sunset adds to the difficulty and also makes it harder to over-do it because there is no way to push on and get to the stupid stage of the day.

According to the weather people, we should start seeing snow in about half an hour but at this point we are ready.  The foundation, frame, sheeting, and house wrap are done.  The roof trusses are up and so is the plywood and underlay for shingles, and, about 2 rows of shingles.  We put a giant tarp up, in the dark, because nobody was willing to shingle in the dark *even though I found a shop light!!*.  I also didn’t get the door in so there is a tarp over the opening.  The door is something I can get done in the snow but the roof is just going to wait until spring.  My fondest hope is a warmish day this week, I can shovel a path and it will be snug in there to put in the door and then add a few shelves, hooks for bikes etc and haul the stuff from the garage so then I can park in the garage for the rest of the season.  We will see…

My brain is super energized for getting so much done so fast, but, my body is telling me I used a lot of odd muscles.  Right now I’m tucked in bed early with my laptop enjoying putting my feet up and surrounding myself with pillows.  Tomorrow I tackle the things not yet done in the week, and, prep for Thanksgiving.  It is a mellow holiday with 2 friends families joining and provided we are not snowed in, I will shop tomorrow for all the things for a proper feast.  No other plans (other than the shed finishes) for the holiday but I foresee puzzles, games, TV and maybe some Christmas shopping and decorating.  Sorry, I didn’t post daily, hopefully nobody thought I was overcome by sleepover kids.  (that was a busy day, maybe I’ll post about it tomorrow)


Eket 2 drawer cabinet

First things first, if you came here because you are having trouble with your Eket, ME TOO.  I found ZERO people who had this issue so maybe it was just me, because, every other post was a glowing review about how simple and easy it is.  I agree, the frame is quite easy but this two-drawer cabinet has gliders that are, as standard for Ikea, genius yet inscrutable instructions.  I installed mine in what I thought was an absolute following of the directions but nope, I did it upsidedown and backward.

The key is getting the right and left sorted, so note carefully the grove and then what set of holes is closer to the ‘top’ when the keyholes are oriented correctly per picture.  I suppose that is what the pointing finger is trying to say but seriously Ikea, just use a word or two.73a050e9-1db7-48c9-9c14-3cd2eeb4d367-28320-00000ff69d78f7f4_file

Once that was done it was cake.  As easy as everyone says for sure.

Personally, I had another minor dilemma because originally I was just going to get the drawers and mount them just below the shelf, but, then the 4 cube was in the clearance section for a price that was too good to pass up.  I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it stacked up to exactly the same hight as the shelf.

Decision time, remove the shelf or go back to plan A and find a new home for the cube.  Lars preferred the potential of 4 new cubbies so we broke out the bolt cutters and trimmed out the shelf we no longer needed.  I did actually keep the bit to the left of the drawers, you can’t really see it but all I needed to do was move one support and it was stable so that was worth the effort.

As you can see, the eket is the perfect depth for a closet system.  Everything else is ClosetMaid standard and often other furniture stick out too far or are too far back.  This looks slightly proud because of our floor molding but that is ok by me because I can push the top unit back slightly so it has better balance when the drawers are out.

If you were wondering, Lars required his own drawer for accessories and these are very good because they are shallow so you don’t stack too much in there.  They also have the fun ‘pop open’ hardware so no knobs to worry about.


I think this improves our closet nicely, other then the frustration of putting it together 2x, I like it a lot.


ps. I also like the series because the name reminds me of my friend Ekat.

Happy Halloween – costume edition

I hope everyone had a great night with their trick or treating or hanging at home being cozy.  For once, we had a day go *as planned* with nearly no issues or problems and it was fun from beginning to end.

Kids went off to school, 1 in costume, 2 bringing costumes, and a bag full of treats to share (if they were allowed).  ::aside:: I’m glad I’m getting this teacher for #3 third so I already know the ropes because there was zero communication on what permutation or combination of holiday fun was happening in her room.  She is the more kind teacher so I asked for her but she isn’t as on top of the note sending.  ::tangent over::  I collected them under bright and not so cold sky and we zipped home to wait for Lars to finish work.

Everyone knows the drill and thankfully they all still love to pose for me.  We did a photo shoot for each costume and then had a meat and cheese tray for early dinner and went off to meet friends and then traveled in a mob house to house.

This year #1 went as Athena.  She is still in deep love with the Greek myths and legends but at least this goddess had some very easy to identify items so at least 3 people could guess who she was.


halloween 2019-006

Medusa head shield, spear, and then general Greek-ish clothing fit for a Goddess.halloween 2019-005 Her shield was drawn by me but colored and contoured by her.  It also has the ‘feed me’ feature where candy went into the mouth and we had a ziplock bag on the back.  We had to empty her fairy regularly into a normal size bag but making Madusa puke out candy was also kinda fun.halloween 2019-007

Her outfit is really quite pretty and while not mundanely reusable it will absolutely go into the garb collection.  Her costume was 100% hand made (except for the laurel leaf hairpiece) and you can’t have a real hand made Halloween without a little tin foil.


#2 As ever, is a little on the wild side.  She is a Pirate Parrot with a pair of Pistols.  It was a fun costume to collect and I’m really happy with how it came together.

halloween 2019-012

I think we hit the blend of Pirate and Parrot nicely.  She told one friend that her mom was a pirate and her dad was a parrot…  well, maybe we work on the reality of genetics some other day.halloween 2019-009

I’m really happy with the mask.  It is all fleece (leftover bits from the wings and tail) and I machine sewed the majority and hand sewed the beak on and into a curve.  This is not actually the best picture ever because usually it fit right up over the silly pirate logo on the hat for a pretty cool look but I wanted to get that smile in the picture.

She had fun with the pistols too although they did get put in their holsters and forgotten about for the rest of the night (thankfully).  I think having hands free to hold a candy bag and ring doorbells is an important trait in a costume.

halloween 2019-013

Hard to say this is a totally hand made costume since she is wearing a red T-shirt and normal pants and a store-bought hat/pistols, however, I made the wings and tail and mask.  So hand made parrot, store-bought pirate?  Regardless this won’t have too much future use other than dress up box but I might remake the fleece into cozy pillowcases.

#3 went a bit classic – she is A devil (not The Devil).  She is certainly impish plenty of the time so pretty suiting persona to put on.halloween 2019-003

She declined wings or a cape or a fluffy skirt in favor of the very classic horns and a tail.

halloween 2019-002

Her costume is possibly the least homemade as it is overall very simple.  I couldn’t resist the sparkle headband horns and it came with the pitchfork.   We found a blouse at goodwill that was the perfect color and I really loved the lace since it would dress up a dull red dress nicely.  I cut the shirt apart and resewed it to fit.  The tail was my only from scratch item – tube with stuffing and a bit of wire attached to a ribbon to tie on.  The tail did end up with some abuse over the last few weeks but 12 gauge wire is pretty flexible stuff.

halloween 2019-001

Her outfit is technically just a dress but I have low expectations of her wearing it not as dress up.  Who knows!  you might see it at Christmas, it is a very festive red.  Hornes were declared too itchy so they might get donated right away so another little devil can have the pleasure next year.  Overall she was comfortable and warm since I made it roomy enough to go completely over her winter coat (and I’m glad I did)

Here are all three, having some fun while we waited for 5:30.  You can see in the background my photo wall of every costume, it is a real fun project and it is so fun to see the costumes every year.

halloween 2019

I had been crossing my fingers the weather would be ok for the outside walk.  It was nearly perfect, clear and crisp and not too cold.  Sure we had to be creative about bundling up and double socks but everyone was warm.  We went to the same neighborhood as last year that really does it up, tons of kids running around and superb decorating and hospitality (fires and warming spots).  We came home at 7:30 and popped in a pizza to eat while watching a Halloween movie.  Everyone was happily asleep by 10 and I wasn’t far behind.  I love having an outlet for creating something fun and helping them become characters they love.


Fur cloak, wings are quite warm plus we had a red sweatshirt to replace the t-shirt and devil dress fits over her coat.  I’ll take credit for planning indoor/outdoor costumes thanks 🙂

Today the decorations come down but I’ll take pictures before I do for a slightly late Halloween House tour tomorrow.


Driveway done

Long term readers, thanks for sticking with me.  I realize I left you all with a cliff hanger, did I get the driveway done?  Long story short, Yes!

Long story long…

The day was gorgeous, not too hot and not too cold.  Kids actually didn’t have school (why?  made up MN holiday I always forget about) so while they were potentially underfoot I didn’t have to lose time bringing them to and from school.  The machine was scheduled for 11am delivery (because I thought they had school…) and that gave me plenty of morning time to get kids full of attention because my plan was to ignore them for the next few hours as I used small earthmoving equipment.  They were issued lunch instructions and told not to paint anything or kill each other and I took possession of the bobcat at 11:15 am.


look dad, hearing protection.  

The lesson on how to use it was about 6 seconds long but did include the one important detail about how to disengage the bucket so it acted as a ‘float’ and flattened things for the smooth top look.  I took my place at the controls and set to work,  I zipped up and down and scooped and dumped and smoothed and it was pretty simple after you got the hang of it.  I can do two things with two hands at the same time and I felt pretty confident after the first 20min.


progress shot, more than 20 min, probably a few hours work.

It was a ride on machine, not a sit in, so I had to use my good balance skills as I went up and down.  I didn’t actually fall off ever, but, it was close a few times.  It does tend to lurch suddenly so my hip bones were not pleased with the bashing they took but no permanent damage.  I learned that regardless of how fun it is to spin in a circle, it isn’t very kind to the grass so hopefully my lawn forgives me.


Vacation Mom visited for a photo op

By 2pm I had actually done the majority of the spreading of the rock we had.  On the good side, I was pretty quick.  On the bad side, the job wasn’t done….  Vacation mom and Lars both encouraged me to just order more rock asap.  Fortunately, I had done my homework and had gathered many options in the research phase so I knew who I could call for same-day delivery of the same product.  We just *can’t* mix our gravels!  During my break, as we waited an hour for another 5 yards, I moved the remainder of our free mulch pile to an out of the way place (that I’m sure will be the most needed place in the near future somehow) and finished the last crumbles I had.

New gravel delivered I went back to work.  I was feeling the time crunch because I did have kid activities that evening and the dark was coming.  I was also feeling what I can only describe as riding a small roller coaster – a jerky one at the local carnival, not a smooth machine at a theme park – for 5 hours.  There were moments of adrenaline as I thought I was tipping the thing but mostly just random smashing and constant jittering to shake my bones.


much more full, better now

I can see how a mech suit would be addicting, the power to lift or dig or spin or carry a big chunk so easily is pretty empowering.  I was strong and fast and unlimited by my strength – only my dexterity on the controls.  An unexpected body part that hurt; my thumbs – from moving on the control stick all day.  I got all the gravel in place but it was not perfect before it got too hard to see.

It was a 24h rental so I had until 11am to finish up.  The next day, fresh and ready, I did all the final grooming and it looked really real.  Sure there are still high and low spots but I’m cautiously optimistic.


look how smooooooth.  yes, it is supposed to slope, that is for drainage.

When the guys came to collect the machine he complimented the job.  I demurred, said I was not going to quit my day job… he really surprised me with his reply (the real compliment) “maybe side work?”  For a first effort, I’m pleased.  I also gained a ton of confidence and I will not hesitate to rent one again for similar jobs.  It was a testament to the experience of my friends who gave lots of advice and youtube with its many many videos.  The one frustrating thing in my research was lack of hard number so here are my real numbers if you came here looking;

In the Twin Cities area of MN USA it cost me apx $700 to diy a 200 square foot area 4-6in deep.  I believe the reason I needed more than 18 tons (original order) was because my area was deeper than the standard 4in I used to order so I have a more sturdy driveway but needed more fill.

  • trap rock class 5 ‘dresser’ (the name of the quarry).  I got the first 18 tons from the quarry directly.  The per-ton price was $13 SIGNIFICANTLY lower than any more local source because they add overhead etc.  Worth the $150 delivery to pay less per ton for the larger load.  The total bill for the first load that was 17 tons (full truck) was $280. *I was crossing fingers that I overestimated when I knew I needed 18 tons and only 17 arrived*
  • Rental for the machine for 24h; $300 <- includes tax and delivery/pickup.
  • Second 5 yards from local nursery; $252.  They charged $37 per yard and only $50 to deliver so you can see why they were not my first choice but they were able to deliver in an hour so that was worth it.

I am not the right person to ask how-to on this, youtube and experienced friends are a way better source.  I can give you confidence!  I (soccer mom of middle age) did it, so can you!  It was not that hard, you can fix most things anyway, and other than needing balance you more or less just need the patience to do it.  It was like playing with a giant sandbox toy or frosting a larger than life cake.  The ability to do this project is in your reach.



Hi there – it has been a bit.

I’m sure you can imagine (if you imagine me any other time than the 3 minutes you are reading) that I’ve been doing all the things that make the world go around here.  Driving to and fro, trying my best to remember what day it is to remember where what child is going where.  They tease parents on tv shows when they drop off a kid with a binder, but seriously children are actually just a collection of if-then statements with ever-changing variables.

I have been chipping away at my project list as well as prepping for a fairly large Halloween party.  They are related in a way, I was doing projects but then put an event on the calendar where people will see that I don’t have finished window treatments or any pictures on the wall after a YEAR and that puts me in gear.  There is plenty to do still but a few things will be off the list.

Other years I had tons of kids in Halloween shirt posts.  They are still wearing them, but, I have been missing the photo ops.  I did, however, get all my favorite shirts of the past that they have outgrown and made them into throw pillows.  Let me tell you, there are way easier ways to make pillows, like using normal shape fabric not a 50x washed tshirt size 3T….  I’ve made them different ways over the years, this year I cut the cool part of the shirt and appliqued it onto a regular piece of fabric and then made a pillowcase like normal.  img_2653

The kids have chosen their costumes and I’m in process on a Parrot, a Devil, and a Greek Goddess.  Can you guess who is who?  I would say I am pretty close to done on 2:3 but still have finishing touches to go.  I waited too long and now I have to make something I could have purchased but now delivery is after Halloween.  I’ve learned to look carefully at the delivery dates, hard lesson but one can not make the shipping faster.

I went down the Pinterest rabbit hole for Halloween party ideas.  We invited kids from each class and their parents/siblings so I have no idea who is coming from that group but we will probably have a crowd.  We are doing a more adult party after and I have a better idea of who is coming to that since I did the invite online and people do RSVP so it puts the event on the calender.  I think it will be a good bunch and hopefully, we have enough food/room/parking.

Speaking of parking… one of my odder longer-term projects is coming together.  I am expanding our driveway by 5 feet on one side, and, adding 2 generous parking spots so we have the possibility of 7 people parked in the driveway and less chance of running off the driveway when it is snowy.  This project took a while, had a few setbacks, taught me a ton about pavement and class 5 and the different types of class 5 and I had the rock delivered on Tuesday and tomorrow I get the machine to help move the class 5 rock into the spot that has been cleared.  I rented the machine for 24h so hopefully, I get this job done in a few and I can use the machine to do a few other jobs while it is here.  Who knew being a stay at home mom would translate into being a minor construction contractor?

The project bop is at a frantic level because I keep switching to what I can do best at the time so not too many things are in a *complete* status yet however the next few days should be good for finishing up stuff and putting away the tools etc so I can just enjoy the done-ness for a moment before party prep and Halloween events next week take over.

Wish me luck with my excavating equipment tomorrow, I hope to have pictures and success and not just a day full of what not to do.