Monday, April 30, 2012

A can of worms

Awhile back, if you been hanging around, I mentioned that this ugly front post was being put on my to-do list.  And it's almost done.... 
But I wanted to re-cap what's gone on so far, and what a tough project this has been.
As you can see the post is built into both the soffit....
....and the concrete steps, neither of which we want to replace.

Since my dad is soooo handy I enlisted his help again, and after he probably regretted getting himself into it.  It was in fact my dad who called this project "a can of worms," and in a minute you'll see why.

Our first plan of attack was to leave the initial wrought iron pillar in place and build a "sleeve" around it to make it look like a solid wood post. 
We used wood glue on the edges...
....and then a nail gun to secure the four pieces together.
We also had a little supervisor who enjoyed a snack while watching.

So before putting up any trim, priming and painting it....we stood back to take a look.  The consensus?  It was too big for our tiny house.  It looked fine, and it wasn't going anywhere, but the width of the sides were just too big to look like the pillar was meant to be at our house.

Back to the drawing board....

Next, we decided to tackle the post itself.  Take it down and build something in its place.  So I headed back to Home Depot and picked up three 2 x 6's and was going to glue/gun them together to essentially make a 6 x 6 post, and then we could make another wood sleeve just like we had before.

Cooper inspected the wood....
Then I lathered them up with wood glue and hoped for the best....

The wood glue couldn't hold because the wood was ever so slightly warped, and I didn't have any clamps to hold them together.

Plan C.  Just buy a 6 x 6 post.  Done.

Now to the tough part. 

First we used a crow bar and removed all of the wood surrounding the top of the post at the soffit.  Thankfully that's all that was holding it in place.
Then, we took Nate's my SAWS-ALL and sawed off the bottom of the post near the concrete.

And removed the post!
The bases around the rods keeping the post in place wiggled right off, but we were left with the rods which were embedded into the concrete.

Good luck!


Back to the handy dandy SAWS-ALL and at least now we are dealing with a level surface....

The next task was opening up the soffit.  This part was the can of worms I was talking about.  First, there was a piece of plywood up there that seemed to be misplaced, the two by four with which we were going to use to connect the new post was already cut out a bit, and the angled two by four going into the corner was right in the way of where the new post should go.  Oh, and we also didn't know if our soffit pieces would be salvageable since we had to bend them so severely to get them out in the first place.

The next step was all about measuring.  Ever heard the rule, "measure twice, cut once?"  Follow it.  Every time.

So because of that pesky corner beam, we had to cut out a chunk of the top of the new post to get it high enough into the eaves and at the same time having a piece of wood to go through with our bolts to secure the wood to the house.

Do not be fooled....the cutting that led up to the picture below took HOURS.  My dad is a saint for doing this and was sooo patient throughout the whole process.
As you can see, the piece fit perfectly.  Measuring sure did pay off.
Here it is...in place, but not secured yet.  Oh and bonus points if you notice anything else different about the front of the house shot....yup-new storm door!  That was a whole other can of worms (yeah right 45 minutes to install yourself!).

Then I was off to prime and paint the post.

In the meantime, I picked up this.  An post anchor u-clip.  This is how we fastened the post to the concrete.  I think on a subliminal level I forgot entirely to photograph any of this step, because I wanted to forget it.

Basically I got the biggest concrete drill bit I could find.  My dad and I drilled a hole into the concrete using both batteries on both of our drills and then we still had to get a shorter bolt because we just couldn't get far enough down into the concrete.  Once the bolt and clip were in place, we set the post on top of it, and screwed the u-clip right into the post.  Long story short-post is secured to clip, clip is secured to concrete.  Then we secured the top, using our pre-drilled holes. 

Finally we cut the trim pieces (re-purposed from when I added new trim to our kitchen a few years back).  Primed and painted.  My dad is a wizard with saws....his cuts were perfect.  Every time.

 And then we arranged them around the bottom and top of the post.







 We used clamps to get them in place and then the nail gun to secure them together and to the post.

 So here is what I mean in that I am almost done.  There still needs to be quite a bit of caulking done around the edges of the trim, which will then be painted.


And if you look up at the top, the soffit needs work. 

 We will probably need to get one new piece, since jimmy-ing the old one back in there isn't a long-term solution.
 Here it is from the side before adding the top trim....

And finally, the almost end product!  And no, it has not since been vandalized, I just scribbled out our the new address numbers I made!
It looks so much more clean and simple, especially with our new storm door!
 Nate once told me that there is a list of house items that bring in the biggest bang for your buck when you go to sell (not that we are!), and the number one item....the front door.  So even though we didn't replace the front door, it sure does look a whole lot better, and helps the overall curb appeal of our house greatly.  In case you were wondering, next in line were garage door, kitchens and bathrooms.


So here is a long overdue before and after.....
Goodbye ugly wrought iron post, hello beautiful new wood post, and thank you, thank you, thank you to my dad who spent soooo many hours helping me with this transformation!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Coo Coo for Kokopax

Backpack carriers are awesome.  This one is the one my brothers and I rode in as kids, and here is Griffin, loving it too.

My mom brought our old one down to Savannah and it came in handy often while going on short walks to the clubhouse and walking around downtown Savannah.

I LOVE this picture.  This looks like so many pictures I remember of us as little kids, hanging out on my dad's back.
So it was only fitting that when friends of my dad's went into business selling an updated version of the Gerry pack, Grandpa and Grandma got one for us!  We love it.  It is a Kokopax, and it is so convenient for places you do a lot of walking, that are not super stroller friendly (dog park, hiking, places with big crowds, etc.).

Cooper loves it too.  More comfortable mamma means he gets to spend more time at the DP, because even after an hour, my back/shoulders are still okay.
PS-still loving Minnesota weather this year.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Painting the town white

I'm all about multi-tasking.  And since I had the primer and white paint out for the fence, I wondered what else around the house I could slap a coat of white on.  

This green boxy shelf was originally mounted in our office, don't forget the entire room (ceiling, trim, walls, shelves, etc.) was this color green.  We took down all of the shelves immediately because they blocked the room's only window.  I saved a few shelves, especially this one, with the intent to re-purpose eventually.  

I got this shelf out again while planning Griffin's nursery, but never managed to get it done.
 
So here's where the multi-tasking comes into play.  Instead of literally watching the paint on the fence dry between coats, I got busy painting this shelf as well as our mailbox.  

Here is the final product, set up in its original home, the office.  My dream was to use it in our bedroom, but because of the shape and placement of the windows, it just isn't the right fit.

And here is the mailbox....a nice touch to accent the new white post (pictures coming soon!).
I can think of a million other things that need a coat of paint around my house....but I may try to be more adventurous on my next painting extravaganza....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring has sprung

Spring came super early this year....and I am NOT complaining!  With Griffin on the move and loving the outdoors, I'm anticipating much of our time this spring/summer/fall to be spent in the great outdoors. 

The first sign of spring in terms of flowers in our yard, are always these sweet little blue ones that cover our entire garden and lawn.  I'm pretty sure they are some type of wildflower, but they might even been considered a weed since they are self-spreading.  Watch out neighbors, you might get them next year!


The next batch of flowers we get are still more wild flowers I think....these little cuties....the yellows and the deep purple.

About the same time that these pop up, so does bergenia.  I love this one....

 And you know it is early spring when the lilacs come out.  I can't wait for them to be full fledged out and the whole neighborhood smells like them.
 

The primrose have also bloomed....they are the sweetest little things (before they get trampled by Cooper).
 
That's all for blossoms, but there are some others that have made their inital appearances in my still manageable (since it's early spring) garden.

The peonies are coming....YAY!
 
The sedum have popped up... I love them, they are so low-maintenance and they last all season.
 
 Oh, and so has this lovely variety....do you have them too?  I hope we aren't the only ones who can't get rid of them.....

The hosta are peaking out....

 Even the hydrangea have tiny little buds....they don't make their grand entrance until later in the summer.
 In case you are wondering where I got all of these beautiful flowers, I have to thank the previous owner of our home.  She was in her nineties and was still gardening!  She worked at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and acquired some pretty unique plants over the years.  Unfortunately we don't have the time to keep up her amazing green thumb tradition, but we are trying to maintain what we have left and spice it up here and there!  I also need to make a disclaimer.  I do not guarantee that the above flowers have been properly named.  I have tried my best to revisit the map I made when my aunt Heidi who has a gardening company, (Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens) came over and taught me a few of them, but a lot has changed since then.

I have plans for an herb garden and maybe a few veggies, plus I'm on the hunt for rhubarb recipes....got a giant rhubarb from Nate's grandma at the end of last year!

What are your garden plans this year?