Thursday, September 22, 2016

Time for Fall

So - summer has officially ended and fall has begun. I just finished my half marathon and its epic training plan. We are almost done with the half bath and mudroom projects. With lots of things finished or wrapping up, I am really ready shift gears and change things up. A couple thoughts:

1. Running the Navy Air Force Half Marathon 
I signed up for this race a couple months ago, in hopes that it would get me back in shape. Of course, as is always true for me, I had a hard time fitting in all the required runs and didn't end up training as well as I wanted. The more the mileage crept up, the hungrier I got - really throwing off my plans to eat well during this period. Old running injuries flared up, no doubt because I was adding miles too quickly while missing important strength training exercises - so I spent a good chunk of time on the couch, icing my knees with frozen vegetables (butternut squash is my new favorite). So - when the race day finally came, I finished it (which was my only real goal), and I did it much faster than I was expecting, but still slower than the last time I ran this distance 6 years ago. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't worked harder or run faster, but mostly I was just really happy to be done.

running into the finish line

in prior years - we went out to celebrate after a race. This year, I got a nap! 

2. New Exercise Plans
Whenever I finish a long race, I always feel torn between wanting to never move again, but not wanting to lose all my hard-earned progress. I'm thinking about making a mileage goal for the month of October - just enough to require me to run short distances pretty often so that I get into a more regular routine. I also know that all the running without additional strength training probably resulted in my leg muscles getting unbalanced and causing a couple typical running knee injuries, so I should spend more time building strength through other forms of exercise. (My brother would point out that another way to not get running injuries is to just not run). I'm also just so tired of running and anxious to try other things - so I'm thinking about making a goal to try new exercises and strength training classes, like boot camp or crossfit, or relaxing things like hiking or swimming. In short - I want to continue to get in better shape, but I would like it to hurt less. I want to exercise more often, but with more variety.

3. New Food Plans
I forgot that long runs make me super hungry so that I absolutely must eat everything in sight. Plus, when I was running into work and couldn't carry extra food with me - or just working through the weekend without time to prep food - I fell way off the bandwagon on home cooking, and ended up buying lots of crappy food for breakfast, lunch and so many afternoon snacks. I am really excited to get back in the kitchen. Making breakfast and lunch for myself is both healthier and cheaper than buying food at work, so I'm digging out my old favorite recipes to make in advance. But dinner has gotten interesting lately- not only does food need to be healthy and relatively cheap as always, but now we eat dinner with our son so food needs to be something he will eat (not super spicy or messy, fingerfoods are useful), as well as done before his bedtime - giving me roughly 15 minutes to get in the door before food is on the table. All of these constraints make things more challenging - so I'm kind of excited to figure out new options that will work. I think I'm finally going to tentatively embrace the slow cooker, in addition to lots of weekend prep. I have visions of roasting root vegetables and hearty soups and general scrumptiousness.

4. The Fun To-Do List
Because the weekends were spent either running or working on the house  - we didn't get to do many of the fun summery things I would've liked. Now that we're getting that time back - I am super excited to get out of the house, and start crossing fun things off the list.

  • Go apple picking
  • Go wine tasting
  • Cook something on an outdoor fire
  • Take a day hike
  • Go to the zoo 
  • See Mt. Vernon
  • Celebrate Octoberfest 
  • Halloween. 
5. House Maintenance
Ok, I get that no one else would be excited about this but me - but all the focus on finishing up the halfbath has left the rest of the house a bit disheveled and worse for the wear. There are a bunch of regular projects, like weeding the lawn, that have been completely ignored over the past few months. There are a bunch of new projects that were created by the construction - like piles and piles of displaced cookbooks, serving bowls, and pantry items that no longer have a permanent home or construction tools and debris that are strewn about the house and garage. It's time to make the fall capsule wardrobe and put summer clothes in storage. The whole house just needs some attention. I want to sort through all the stuff to empty out things we don't need for donations and trash, and then give everything that remains a good dusting/scrubbing/reorganizing. 

6. Learn and Teach Something New 

So - it's been years since I was a student, but the return of fall still gets me excited about the return to school. I'm anxious to learn something new - maybe I can finally commit to actually practicing the piano and learning a new piece, or even taking lessons again. I have a million podcasts that are accumulating on my phone. There are a bunch of short term classes I would love to sign up for - a weekend woodworking class, an online photography class, a blog-based baking school  - that would be a fun way to get better at something I like to do but sort of suck at. I also started volunteering back in the spring, teaching a course for GED students, which ended for the summer but is starting up again for the fall. I'm excited to get back into teaching, thinking through the material, figuring out how to present it at the right level and speed, incorporating real world examples, while figuring out how to meet standard testing requirements and other constraints. I like the challenge and am looking forward to getting back to it.

Ok- so re-reading through this post makes me sound sort of crazy/overly ambitious. I know that the end of the half marathon will free up a couple hours on Sundays, but not infinite additional hours. Even so - I am excited to do more of all of these things, and look forward to figuring out how to juggle all the competing interests, as always, in order to squeeze just a bit more into the day.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Trim for the Halfbath Window

We're rolling right along on the halfbath and mudroom and are ready to finish up the trim. Next up - finishing up the little window in the half bath. Quick background -  the contractors framed in this wall and installed the window, but left it unfinished. After a bit of googling around, I figured out how to trim it out. (This Old House tutorial here.) (Note: preemptive apology for crappy photos - it's really hard to take a pic of a window when it's light outside).

where the contractors left off

Step 1 - Clean it Up
Using a utility knife, I quickly cut out the excess spray-in insulation and sheetrock so that everything is flush, even and smooth.

cleaned up and ready for trim

getting inspected by our littlest family member

Step 2  - Window Jams
So, first up, we cut the jams for the sides and top of the window. Unfortunately, our window is just slightly too deep to use the standard jams, so I used a couple 1x8 boards. First I cut it down to length, and then put it in place, marked the overage, and then rip-cut the board down to the right width. With our brand new table saw, it was super easy to set up the guard thing to the right size, and then just woosh the boards through. I cut the two side boards first, nailed them on, and then cut the top board and nailed it on.

Step 3 - Window Sill
So, the next thing to go in is the window sill and it is by far the most difficult piece. Home Depot sells special molding boards for this (actually called a window stool), which are rounded over on one side and nice looking. Again, our window was slightly too deep for the board, which put me in a weird spot, so I decided to first cut and install this board, and then cut down a smaller filler board to cover the gap. So, first, you have to decide what kind of casing will go around the window, because the sill will be just a bit bigger than the finished and trimmed window. Since this window is right against the wall, we didn't have room for anything bigger than the standard 2 1/4" window trim. So, first, we cut the window sill down lengthwise, it should be the width of the window + 2x the width of the casing + 1" overhang. Next, we need to notch out the walls, which are the depth of the window by the width of the casing + 1/2". (just see my diagram below- this is hard to explain.) Once I had the sill cut, and a second skinny board of the same depth to fill the gap - I just nailed them down.

jams and sill

Step 4 - Casing
Now we add the casing, using 45 degree angles to frame around the top and sides of the window, resting on the window sill.

Step 5 - Apron
Last, the underside of the sill gets fitted out with more of the casing, turned upside down. I used 30 degree angles for the ends. Then, we didn't like how it looked because it seemed like too much molding for such a small window, and more importantly, the sill didn't overhang enough to cover my apron - so I ripped the apron in half, creating a much smaller little board that was small enough to fit under the sill's overhang.

casing and apron

So, I still need to caulk and paint everything - but I'm waiting until I can do all the trim at once - so hopefully that will happen shortly. The rest of the trim is almost done. Plus, I have an update on the personal shape-up plan - so stay tuned.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finishing the Pocket Door

As I explained in my last post, after the tile floor went down, we should've installed the pocket door next, because all of the trim builds out from the door, and it's easier to install trim before there are fixtures in the way. However, we knew it was going to be really hard to do, so we just put it off and went ahead with the toilet and sink. Once they were installed, we finally had to bite the bullet and focus on the door. As expected, it was a total PITA, so I am really glad this is finally done.

Step 1: Find a Door
The track was installed in the wall by our original contractors a couple years ago, so all it needed was a door. We could've bought a new one, but didn't want it to look too different from our solid wood, super old doors. It turned out that the door to the closet in our bedroom, which we plan to remove eventually, was just about the right size, so we decided to use it. We removed the hinges from the door fairly easily, and then I took it outside to quickly sand it down and give it a coat of walnut stain to try to reduce the red color just a bit.

door to the closet in the master bedroom

Step 2: Find the Hardware
I know when the track was installed, there was also a bag of hardware to hang the door, but it long ago was lost. (We actually think it might be closed up in the wall behind the sheetrock. Fun surprise for a future owner!). Finding replacement hardware wasn't easy, since we had no idea what brand our track was, and they don't seem to be standard, and they really don't show the sizes for things. So after buying a couple options, one set finally fit in the track. We just screwed the hanging things into the door and put the wheels on the track.

Step 3: Hang the Door
This was the part I was dreading the most - but it wasn't all that horrible actually. Once the wheels were in the track and the hangers were screwed onto the top of the door, we had to lift the door up into the wheels. Of course, maneuvering a massively heavy door into the small little holes without being able to see what you are doing is just as fun as it sounds. Thankfully, this was successfully completed in about a half hour without smashing anyone's fingers.

door is hanging! 

Step 4: Fix the Frame
Once the door was hanging, we gave it a gentle push into the frame, hoping it would silently whizz closed - only to have it come to a grinding halt immediately. Turns out that when the contractors installed the sheetrock on this wall, they pushed the frame together - pinching closed the space where the door should go. So, after quickly debating whether or not it was important for the door to be able to open more than halfway - Spouso got to work trying to pull the frame back open from the outside. His answer was to try to find and remove the screws that attached the sheetrock to the frame, and then reattach them while putting a spare board inside the pocket cavity in place of the door, to push back on the frame and prevent it from being pinched closed. There was a bit of colorful language, but eventually it worked and we rehung the door and were able to gently glide it closed. Unfortunately, the door got rather scratched up as we tried to move it into the pinched pocket, so maybe I'll come back and refinish the door in the future.

Step 5: Install the Jambs
Now that the door works, we got started on making it look nicer. First up was building a door jam using a 1x8 board. Once we cut it down to the right height, we needed to rip it down to the correct width, but didn't have the right tools to do that. So we got a new table saw! It easily cut the board down to size. So, then we got a couple more 1x8s to cut the side and top jambs down to size, and then screwed them down.

door jambs getting attached

Step 6: Install the Casing
Lastly, now that the jambs were in - we could finally put up the casing around the top and sides of the door, inside and out. We picked up some fancy molding from a local mill place to try to match the really old stuff of the rest of the house. It's not exactly the same, but close, and should help the space look a little more consistent with the rest of the house. This was pretty quick, we just used 45 degree cuts to turn the corners. We did the back door at the same time, but had to rip the top board down because the molding was actually too tall for the room.

door casing is up on the pocket door

pocket door peaking out

back door has casing now too

Now that the door is finally, thankfully, done, we can finish up the rest of the trim. The end is very close!!