Tag Archive | home improvement

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Building a garage shelf in 2 hours

(spoiler alert…. or NOT)

I think I have said before that there is no simple “Oh let’s do this” projects in my world.  I count myself lucky if I *only* need to gather tools not find them, or, buy them.  Things are getting better as we unpack and organize but it is a frustratingly slow process.

One thing I intended to start a full 2 weeks ago was build shelving in the garage.  I did my research, plumbed the Pinterest pit, and consulted friends and came out with a plan with few cool things to try but the hitch was that I needed full sheets of plywood and 8ft long 2×4 and my mini van is just not up for that.

Order it you say?  They deliver?  Yes!  I started down that path because I recall someone had free delivery.  Called around last week and no, not free, but $25 is ok.  Spent a few days building the cart, researching weight limits and looking at a few cool options for the next project because if I’m paying for shipping I’m getting everything for the next few projects in one shot.

Cart finally as perfect as I can make it and then I see delivery is $75….  put on the breaks, call, hear  “no, $25 was never a thing” (I swear it really was!) but this puts me in a mind to just buy a utility trailer.  Why shouldn’t we buy a >1K trailer to build a less than $100 garage shelf?  It has been on our list for a while, this just bumped it up.  NOW we need to research trailers!  I already had gone down the path so we just needed to actually do the looking.  That means 1 day lost to thinking, another to research, and on the third we went out at lunch and found the perfect trailer and a good price but they needed 1 more day for paperwork.

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Look at that cute trailer and that (kinda) clean garage

Yesterday!  Yesterday we got the trailer and I got to push ‘buy’ on my cart so the lumber guys could pull everything and I finally got the wood at the house.  Now I can start?  Well almost….  It would be much easier to just pull the trailer full of wood into the garage but there is a pile of boxes (much smaller than it was, I’ve been working on it) in the way so I moved them all and walked in the trailer.  This trailer weighs practically nothing,  nearly 100% aluminum and I had no problem walking it full of lumber into the garage.

Finally! Finally, I can start!  I use my impact driver (love!) with a new star bit (love love) and some highly recommended lag screws that require no pre-drill (love love love!).  I put up my back supports and then… then the battery dies.  Oh well, I had to cook dinner anyway and tomorrow I think I can just get it done.

The night passes and morning comes; it is the next day.  Make breakfast, pack lunches, brush 3 sets of hair and find shoes/jackets/papers and bring all the children to school.  Come home and hear the beginning of the supreme court testimony and turn it off.  I can see both sides, I am glad I’m not in charge of that.  At 10am I get out there and by 11:15 I have this.

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Lars for scale, and, to show strength.  He is not 300lb but he is also not 200….

So not 100% because I don’t have the short screws I thought I had to screw down the plywood but no project can be finished in just 1 trip to the store.  Given the time yesterday to anchor the backs, I would say this is a 2 hour project IF you have;

  • a clear plan on what you want and how to build it
  • ability to make the cuts and the joints without some youtube research
  • tools
  • materials
  • way to get materials to your house
  • clear space

It personally took me 2 weeks and 4 days to make a 2 hour set of shelves.  I think we need a bit more reality in our building expectations.  Those youtube people just skip right to the building part and make it look so easy.

My further plan is to extend right with top shelving only and to the left I’m torn between another section of 4, or, just another top shelf.  Either way I’ll be faster this time because I have 5 of the 6 necessary steps to get going done already.  It does feel good to finally check this one off the list.

Day 102

We have cabinets!

And doors!

I also picked colors and fingers crossed they will look good.

I’m going to ny so no pictures for a week but by the time I’m back I expect siding and maybe even flooring. There was a pile of wood that will become stairs so fingers crossed! 9 weeks to move in, the list is still long but working through it.

crunch day!

Yesterday I did not get everything done because I ended up going to the Dr and found that it is not allergies or a cold but strep.  You know how low the chances of strep are for an adult?  Well, I’m glad to live in a time of antibiotics and today they need to work overtime.  I need to get myself, 3 other humans and 1 canine through a pair of airports in less than 9 hours.  I have told all the girls that once we get to NY all my attention can be for them – not the house, no meetings, just my family, and NY friends.

In the next 9 hours, I need to pack (yesterday I got all the laundry done, your favorite things are always the ones you just wore).  To save time I don’t plan on putting away any of the clothing we are not bringing – it is all going directly into totes in the garage so our house looks even tidier for 1/4 empty closets.  I need to get everything back to ‘show ready’ and that includes spiriting away many stuffed animals and swapping bed spreads etc.  I’ve saved my sanity by booking an awesome cleaning service for tomorrow who will do the floors and windows so I don’t have to worry about cleaning while we are still here.

I’m totally not the first person to move.  It is, however, the first time I have tried to do this sell a house thing and I wish I had more time to make it even better.  We have had just over a month from deciding this is what we are doing to hitting the market. I’ve done nearly nothing in the yard but that is on today’s list so maybe!

If anyone is wondering what my house looks like, here is the presale link

our house

We truly have taken good care of the house and I hate to leave behind the house we know for a new bag of tricks, but, we are also tripping over each other and need more space so we look and look for the next place to make our own.  Everyone think good thoughts for us!  We are actually in the great place that we don’t have to move, we don’t have to take a low offer, it is a seller’s market and I’m doing my best to not go crazy over this.

This time tomorrow I will be typing something (or maybe sleeping) from my parents in NY enjoying a well-earned vacation.

Hello April!

It has been a week and quite a week it has been.  Busy days seem to go faster so the past week has been light speed.img_2342

Last week I had an ‘unplanned’ Friday.  There were things to do but nothing HAD to get done that day until a 3:30 start at school for a major setup and I was ready for a great day of finishing things.  I was still considering my copious options when the phone rang and that was the end of unplanned.  Thus is the life of multi-home ownership, sometimes the washer just dies and because friends live there I moved heaven and earth to get them a washer that day.  Technically I just moved a washer up and down a set of stairs (with help) but in between was a bunch of calls to find a washer and the drive to go get it.  The set up for the carnival went well but ate up the evening and I did finally get a call into my dad to celebrate his 26th birthday.

 

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he is over 6’…

The weekend was a social blur with the school carnival, great weather, friends stopping over, an impromptu backyard fire where we burned the Christmas tree is spectacular 12 ft flames (only for about 2 minutes).  General peace and happiness for all.

 

 

Monday the kids had off for no apparent reason.  So, we did things around the house but none of the things I needed to get done.  On the other hand, Niamh exercised her creative side with a sewing machine gifted to us by a friend who appreciates little kids learning to sew.  I was amazed that she really could do it.  I know, I personally taught her and she

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has seen me do it, but her fingers and brain just worked together and she really really did the sewing herself this time.  I have grand visions of her sewing with me now, hopefully getting things done faster.

Tuesday with only one child was still a dervish of activity.  We had our vent hood put in and that went really really well.  We were lucky that there was nothing structural in the way (besides the roof).  There was a crazy moment of fire when the drop cloth used to protect the brand new stove kinda caught on fire because the installer was leaning against the burner dials.  It was seen promptly and nobody was hurt and everyone laughed including the installer.  I also had the over-scheduled day that included a conference for Fiona (she is doing very well), swim lessons for Fiona (also doing well and can even swim somewhat and can actually float on her back!), swim lessons for Niamh and Zoe (they have been good for a while, this is refinement) and finally home for dinner where I tag Lars who has an aerobic class at 6:45.  Quite a day.

 

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it needs trim, I’m working on that…

 

Wednesday I have no blog excuse except I spent all day working on work and my computer was being a pain.  So were many other programs and I was just done with the computer by the time I got the things done for people who pay me.

Today I did 3 under dresses and the end is in sight for the 3 over dresses – hand sewing only that I like to do while I watch TV.  I ‘wasted’ some time chilling with Fiona in bed because she really needed a nap.  I got a nap at least and in the end, she did too, so I’m stealing some time here to document how not working can end up being very very busy.

The weather is totally helping things not feel too crazy because we can go outside and the kids play after dinner.  It might not do great things for our schedule but they are less cranky overall and while they play I can do things.

Tomorrow is Niamh’s birthday so all the while we have been counting down.  We have done shopping, there are plenty of gifts even though 9 is a really hard age to shop for.  Breakfast is planned and tonight after my school board meeting I’ll be getting the traditional balloons ready for breakfast.  The day will have to be shared with a road trip because we are off to an event for the weekend.  In her honor, we got a fun hotel with a pool with slides and there is a plan for cake by the pool at 9 pm CST (parents and sisters note for calling in)

Now I have just a few minutes before they come home and we need to scoot to a friends house for a final fitting and then to my ‘date’ core conditioning class.  If I want to add pictures and maybe spell check I need to leave things here semi unfinished (just like my life!)

The check marks

Status

Weather – gray

nap – watching a show, good-nuff, she is actually in an excellent mood today 

House – getting party ready

Countdown to Zoe day; T-4

 

I don’t know about anyone else out there but sometimes my life feels like a “give a mouse a cookie” book.  There is even a mom version “If you give a mom a coffee” … but for those who don’t know the format it is a chain of activity type of book that one activity leads to another and another and none of them seem to get qute done on the way but they always resolve with “and then the mom will need a coffee”.  I am quite fine with multitasking – I put in the laundry and on the way back up take the dishes and while I’m in the kitchen I start the coffee and while the coffee drips I serve the breakfast and while they are pinned down with breakfast I brush their hair etc.  The not so good part is when it involves starting and finishing a project because between those two ends are a million other actions and only a fraction have to do with the project…

However!  The fun side to often being in the middle of many things is there are rare days when you actually finish a whole bunch of them.  The stars align and finishing happens!  Today is that day 🙂

  • I finally got 2 pieces of art hung
  • I finished this jewerly project where I reused an old mirror frame (gift from my grandparents) to hold a bunch of my jewerly in a pretty way
  • Got the curtains done (enough) – this project had me finding fabric, bending pipe to make the rod, and mounting the whole thing to the celing and than sewing the curtains and putting the all together and up.

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I also did a ton of other things today, no day is whithout a ton of things, but those make me happy to have them done!

 

I’ve also decided that Zoe’s birthday can’t be outside this weekend.  It will be sunny but cool so a few games outside but most inside.  Works for me, just turns my decorating decisions in a different direction and I’m fine with NOT hauling out all the chairs etc to the lawn for a garden party!

 

Thats today so far.  I’m hopeful to get a few other projects started and finished today (Ha!) but since the house was ‘party ready’ 2 weeks ago I don’t have too much to tackle this week.