Friday, November 13, 2015

Eve's Not-So-Simple Bookshelf

So, as I mentioned before, we wanted to surprise Eve with a couple pieces of furniture, and decorate her recently finished room.  Before our updates, her room was very dark and lacking so much personality.  I really wanted to bring it to life and make it feel hers.  We had a total budget of $200-$250 for the updates.

Her room before
The next thing that Eve had mentioned wanted quite a lot, was a bookshelf in her room.  Like the desk, I tried to find a cheap bookshelf.  I needed one what wasn't too tall, so it could fit near the window as a backup location.  So the basic walmart ones were out.  These were what I came up with.
  1. Altra Mia Kids 4-shelf Bookcase - $120 
  2. Ana White's Banker Bookcase
  3. Guidecraft 6-ShelfBookcase, Natural - $270
  4. Graduated Tall Bookcase - $399

Had the reviews for the 1st one not been awful, I would have just bought and been happy.  But, alas, they were not.  The next two options that looked good were above the budget for the entire room improvement. 

So.  You know the story.  Like normal, we decided to make one.

Well, a little different than normal, in that we = mostly Jon.  I could manage the desk, but the amount of circular saw work for a bookshelf was way too much for a 8 month pregnant lady.  So when I drew up plans, I went extra extra detailed with them.  That way I wouldn't make it up as I go and sit there and dictate every step.  Cause, well... no one likes that :)

Ana white's plan was a decent starting point, and I took it from there.  I didn't to use mdf, like her plan calls for, so I opted to veneer all the raw edges.

So, like I said before there is a lot of circlar saw/table saw cutting, which my awesome hubby did all of.  He also picked up the wood, which was a nice $40 sheet of birch plywood, I think.
Yes Mom, Eli had to be on the stairs when he was cutting.

One the pieces were cut, it was time to shape the contour.  I made up a template for Jon, and he jigsaw-ed it out. 

While Jon was taking care of the big pieces, I worked on the small ones.   We used my go-to for painted wood - poplar.

These boards got a good sanding, and pocket hole on each end.  The shelves also got two pocket holes on each side.

 This board is the top board, which I routered a channel out of to hide the backerboard.  It takes a little extra work (and a router), but hiding the backerboard edges is a really easy way to make your piece look way cleaner.

And with that, I don't have anymore pictures.  We were in a rush to get the shelf pieces to my Mom so she could paint them for us.  We thought it would be easier for her to paint them as pieces, instead of all assembled.  I think that was a good call... sort of.

I veneered the front of the shelves, and that took a while.  Funny enough, each of the kids, including Eve, came down while I was veneering and took a turn with the iron.  Eli asked what we were doing, so I showed him the plans, and he kept quiet.  Eve, however... didn't even ask.  Odd, but I'll take it.

I used the finish nailgun and glue to attach the supporting rails to the newly veneered shelves.  That was all I needed to do for the shelves before assembly, and those got set aside for my mom to paint.

The front basket board, I decided to do simply (not jigsawing the plywood) and just used some stock wood.

Once the back support were attached to the base, the base was ready to paint.

Finally, the last step before assembly (after painting) was to put a veneer on the sides, and router out the back groove for the backer board.

After it was painted, we got it back and assembled it... which was actually pretty tough.  My Mom didn't realize that she shouldn't have painted the shelves ends, and the clearcoat was still tacky... so they were SUPER hard to position.

Plus, the nice beadboard we bought for the back was so hard, the nailgun was blowing nails out the sides.  Long story short, what finally did work was pre-drilling the backerboard, and hammering finish nails through that.

I'll get to more of the timecrunch in a later post, but just wait to see this bookshelf! It's gonna look awesome!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Eve's Simple Desk

In the last post I mentioned that we finished up Eve's room. Yet, instead of moving her in with what little she had, we wanted to surprise her with some furniture and decorations.  Of course she wanted to move in right away, but we told her that we were waiting until the inspector gave us a certificate to move her furniture in, which was true.  But.... we actually purposefully delayed calling the inspector for a couple days, so we had time gather up stuff for her surprise.

When we are finishing up Eve's room I knew there is one piece of furniture that we really want to get in there - a desk.  The kids play table downstairs was getting way too small for her, and she really could use a quiet place to do schoolwork or draw.

The problem was we didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on her room and the money we didn't want to spend had to go a long way.   We we hoping to spend less than $200 (absolute max of $250) for the whole update. The price of the cheaper desks that would fit well were about $100.  And that would eat up about half of the entire room budget.

But, given that we had to get all of everything within a week and that I was 36 weeks pregnant (and moved about as fast as a dead snail)..... we still decided to built it.   :: sighs ::

To keep my time goal realistic I looked at designs only for super simple desks, and still went even simplier.  One of the biggest simplifications was to creating a shelf instead of a drawer.  The Target desk on the left was the best option to copy for her room, since I could use the leg orientation to my advantage to account for the heater. Also, to help us finish quickly, I took up my moms offer to help and had her on board to paint it when I finished.

So here's the really simple build of the desk.  First thing was to cut the have Jon cut me a little slice of plywood.  We had some maple hardwood leftover from our computer table, so I used that.  Then I squared up the ends and cut them down to size.   Since it's going in the kids room I wanted rounded corners.  I thought using one continuous piece of veneer on the front would prevent peel-ups and rounded edges would prevent bad bumps.  I free handed with the jigsaw and expectrd a lot of sanding, but it turned out way better than I expected. 

Once the veneer was set then I worked on the shelf.  I cut two 1x4" boards to length and then put in some pocket holes to attach to the top.

Between the two side supports were two long shelf supports. i routered the long supports so that the shelf would be flush just below the front, and no edges could be seen.  The picture below is actually a different board with rounded edges, but similar enough to get the idea.

After I attached those support boards in, I cut some luan to size to act as the shelf and fit it in.

The shelf was bowing enough that you could see some of it under the bottom. It made me think that it might need a little more support to keep it from sagging in the future.  So I added really light supports to the side with a little wood glue. They're the width of the routered size of the front supports, so they're fairly thin.

After the top was finished, it was time to add the legs.  Using a 13° angle I cut the legs to length and just screwed them in from the inside.  Sorry, I didn't take any pictures!

And once that was done, it was [secretly] off to my Mom's house for painting.  To get it there, we told Eve were picking up some special zucchini from my Mom's house.  Of course, we really did pick up zucchini, but it was a little funny that no one seemed to say anything when we already had TONS of zucchini from our CSA.

I can't wait to show you the final desk, it looks great!  Plus, it was such a fast build, it actually only took me two evenings to finish.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's time to dye!

I've been knitting baby Autumn a winter hat with some grey Patton's wool I picked up at Joann's.  I was hoping to have some nice pink stripes in it as well, but the closest Joann's is small and they didn't have any pink wool in stock.

No big deal though - if it's a Koolaid color I can just dye it!   I've done it before when dying yarn for Isaac's wool longies and Eve's playsilks.
...but given it's been a few years since then, I had to go read my notes on it from last time.  I had documented the process with playsilks well, but for wool yarn, my notes were scarce.... so I'm filling them in!

To start, you need just a few things - vinegar, Koolaid, cream/white wool yarn and water.  Since we're using the microwave method, we'll also need two microwave safe bowls and... a microwave.

I checked out this website before picking up the colors at the store.   I referenced the colors on my kindle while dying, to see if I wanted to adjust the intensity. 
I'm using strawberry (fist one top left) and pink lemonade (third one, top left).
First step, put the sweet baby in the mei tai.  You'll might want two hands :)

Soak the yarn in a mixture of vinegar and lukewarm water.  You don't need much vinegar, about a table spoon.

Mix the koolaid and a tablespoon of vinegar in lukewarm water.  The size of the container doesn't matter much.  It just needs to be able to hold enough liquid to cover the yarn.

Now we start microwaving.  Heat in two minutes at a time, with about a 3-5 minute break in between.  When the water goes clear/white, all the dye is absorbed, and you'll all done microwaving.
Before microwaving
After 2 minutes

After 4 minutes
 I could have gone another round, as there was a little pink left in the bowl, but I was happy with the color I got.  Place it in a another bowl and set that aside, to cool it a bit (and so you can work on the other colors).

Here's my strawberry with about half a packet of pink lemonade mixed in.  I probably should have done half a package of strawberry and a whole pack of pink lemonade to get the color I wanted.  Still, it turned out nice.

Here's the progression of this color -
Before Microwaving
After 2 minutes
After 4 minutes
I pulled this one out early as well.  I could have gotten a lot darker of a color if I wanted. 

Once the yarn has cooled, it's time to run it under the faucet until the water runs clear.  Be mindful not to "shock" the wool with big temperature changes.  I kept the white bowl under there so I could be sure the water was actually clear. 

A trick to get the yarn (or anything you have to handwash) to dry quicker is to wrap it up in a dry towel/washcloth.  The colors in the photo below are fairly close to real life.

Once it's rolled up. Squeeze.  Re-roll and press again.

 Leave it to dry and go relax and have some tea do laundry.  Who am I kidding, if you have kids, dying wool is the relaxing part of the day :)
Note, the colors are off

Monday, November 9, 2015

Always Growing Bigger!

One of the big things I was looking forward to in home ownership was being able to plant a garden.  Sure, we had the occasional pot or raised bed in our apartments, but since our lease was typically up in August, we almost never got a real harvest.  So last year, I elated to plant our first real garden in our own home... and sadly it failed.  I think it was too shady over in that area.

This year, because of my pregnancy, I went with a simple raised bed.  And I'm happy to say, it succeeded. 

We were able to harvest several grocery bags worth of carrots, green beans, and cucumbers.

Plus, after a summer of growing, we got two cute little pumpkins!!

Actually.  Make that three.

Our little harvest bundle showed up this fall and we couldn't be happier.  Welcome to our baby girl, Autumn!