Monday, August 23, 2010

Lincoln logs, no...POPKEN logs

I saw some huge pieces of ancient chopped up tree near the Fiesta Supermercado a few days ago on my way to Amanda's house for dinner and had a brain wave about how cool these giant log slices would look on her patio as chairs and tables. At 11:00 at night we went in the mini to check them out...hey let's try see if we can get one in the car...well that was easy, how about another...

That was Thursday. We made plans to have people help us get some of the even bigger logs on Saturday evening. The plan involved our neighbor friend Ed bringing his truck, hiring some friendly cheap immigrant labor, and Marco translating instructions. By Friday afternoon all but the very heaviest logs that would take more than 2 normal people remained. People around here like big pieces of trees! Then Ed went to Fiesta Saturday morning, stopped to see the logs we'd told him about, got a passer by to help him load the three smallest ones in this truck, and called me up.

Well, since we're all three here with the truck we might as well try to get the others ourselves if we can...and now that we have all but the two biggest "could take 6 people" sized ones we should go to that other pile I saw and get more...

I like when fun adventure projects just flow along like this. Sometimes getting stuff done is all about planning and executing steps strategically. And sometimes you just go with the flow.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prepare for chickens!

Amanda and I went on the Dallas Chicken Coop Tour a few months ago and were completely convinced and inspired to have our own backyard chickens.

We decided the coop and pen need to be in Amanda's backyard because mine is too small and we live so close to each other that we can easily share the chicken duties. Now that she's settled into her house, we're ready to get going on it. We first walked around the yard and discussed the overall vision for her yard, then we figured out how the coop would fit in and how it would look.

The view from Amanda's back porch.

Then I came one evening with my trusty reciprocating saw and cleared out the back left corner of the yard, removing low lying limbs and small bushes and vines.

The dogs always get to romp together while we work. Here's Lady and Turkey playing next to my big pile of cut down limbs. The thicker branches will be saved to use an the chicken's perch in the coop.

Chickens need sun and shade as well as protection from the elements. This location is perfect for that.

While excruciatingly bored at work one day I drew up the plans. The next afternoon we made a detailed list of the supplies we needed and it started to hit me how big this project is. We need a LOT of wood.

Thankfully there were a lot of 60"ish 2x4s in the sale section at Home Depot. These are pieces that are left over from other cuts or have a chunk missing or sone defect...and are sold at $0.51 each! A steal! Perfect for us.

Here's Amanda with our very full lumber cart.

The guy that cut our wood didn't believe it was all going home in a mini cooper, so he came out and helped us load it up. Two different guys offered to take the stuff for us in their truck, which was nice I guess but at the time seemed creepy. Anyway, it all loaded in easily and the employees that had stood around watching and laughing got schooled.

Fido kept trying to hop into the car while we were unloading everything into Amanda's garage. "please can I go home now?!!" He eventually hid in front of the driver's seat by the pedals. He doesn't really like hanging out in the backyard in the heat while the other dogs do stuff like...

...create their own mud puddles where the hose is leaking.

So the prep work is all done!
Check in soon to see us build a chicken coop.

This is going to be GREAT.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grout: easier on than off

This morning, 31 hours after adhering the tile to the Hardy Board, I put in grout. I'd thought about doing black but decided it might be too heavy looking. So I went with a medium grey that would be an in-between colour for my slate and white tiles. I hope I made the best choice!

I used a premixed container of grout, a trowel, a kitchen spoon, and my fingers to get it on.

Getting it off turns out to be much harder than getting it on. You just keep wiping, and rinsing out the sponge, and wiping, and rinsing... The thing is, you can't leave a film on the tile or it will dry that way and always look cloudy but the sponge seems to always grab a touch of grout from in-between the tiles and smudge it around. I ended up using the sponge to get it clean down to a thin film, then a dry dish towel to get it mostly perfect, then a dampened piece of towel around the tip of a finger to scrub individual tiles. The white ones really didn't want to come clean! It took about an hour start to finish to do the grout.

Update: the grout dried slightly darker and looks great! So, paint AND grout both dry darker. Good to know.

Now I wait 48 hours before putting on the tile and ground sealer.

In the meantime, I'm washing dishes in the bathroom. Ugh. It's worth it though.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Tiling the sink! FINALLY!!

Yesterday my Dad, Marco, and I finally got down to business on the sink. Tiling is pretty easy, but getting it ready for tile took some power tools and muscle.

This is where we ended last time. Not my Dad under the sink with a flashlight, but a basic wood frame with a huge porcelain sink in the center, washer/dryer on either and a box of tile waiting to be put on.

The tile shouldn't be applied to wood, it can warp and pop the tile off, so we had to apply Hardy Board to the sink top which meant we had to unhook the pipes from the heavy cast iron and porcelain sink to pull it out, then measure cut and screw down the Hardy board. This meant cutting the top piece the right size while wearing masks because this stuff makes seriously nasty dust...we remembered the masks after this first choking dusty cut...

...then lying it on top and tracing the hole for the sink...

...then using a circular saw and jig saw to cut out that hole using special carbide tipped blades because Hardy Board aka "concrete board" is so abrasive it dulls a normal steel blade in moments...

...then measuring cutting and screwing the front panel on with special hardy board screws...

At this point my Dad went home and Marco went to a coworker's birthday party and I spent the next couple hours (11:00pm-1:00am) laying out the tile and putting it down. It's really easy. Put down a thin even layer of concrete looking tile adhesive, put the tiles on, wiggle slightly and smoosh them into place, then wipe off excess adhesive and look admiringly at your beautiful tile. I used tile "nippers" to cut some tiles, which sucked because although it worked, it made a jagged cut. If I were doing a lot more tiling I'd look into a real tile cutter which is still less expensive -and way more fun- than hiring a professional.

I had 28 tiles left over. Pretty good estimation of how much was needed, huh?!

The adhesive has to dry for 24 hours before I apply grout. Then that has to dry for 48 hours before I can put the tile sealer on. Then after that dries I glue down the edge pieces, and then the sink goes back in. I'll keep you posted on progress!

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