Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Life (Page 1 of 7)

What I Almost Bought From Rejuvenation

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am thankful to spend this Thanksgiving with my sister. Since moving to the States in 2005, I stopping celebrating holidays all together. Chinese holidays are not recognized holidays in US, so I usually do not get the day off.  I am also not used to celebrating American holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. So it is hard to justify paying top airfare to eat unfamiliar food with my sister just because I have two days off. As a consequence, I ended up working during most of the holidays.

This year is a bit different – Slav’s mom will spend Christmas with us, so we are actually going to follow Christmas transitions. And for Thanksgiving, we have been my sister’s since Tuesday night. Needless to say that we are having a wonderful time!

Without work, the dogs, and away from home renovation, I suddenly had a lot of time in my hands. So much time that I even browsed home decor websites. I am super cheap and hardly buy any furniture with a huge sale. So poking around big store’s website such as Rejuvenations’ is a rare event for me.

It turned out that I was not that good of an anti-consumerism warrior as I thought I was. Within 10 minutes, I had more than half a dozen items in my cart already. I did not check out any of them, so it is still a win for me at the end. But I thought I’d share with you and why I liked them.

1. The Crosby bench

This bench was ~$50 dollars when I saw it. It is 71″ long, and they have a 64″ version that was even cheaper (in $40 range). Being an oak bench, the price is very good. We can definitely build something like this ourselves (who knows, maybe I can even build it myself), but the time and effect will not be worth it. The only reason I did not buy it is that I do not have a vision of where it should be. We have a round dining table so this cannot be used as a dining bench. Our living space is small (850 sqft) with very limited wall space. This bench is simply too long to be floating around the house.

2. The Crosby bar stool

I like the look of this bar stool, and it is only $43 when I saw it. I like the color, the finishes, and the fact that it was made from white oak. However, I do not have high counters in my home. This is a typical example of something I like but I have no use for. I even thought about buying it to pair with the light work bench in the garage, just to have it. But my principle of not buy anything I absolutely will use a lot won at the end.

3. Casement fastener

This fastener caught my eye because we need to replace our attic door, and this can be a great hardware for it. The local building code calls for a self-closing door that can be locked, so my current design for the attic door is with spring hinges and a casement fastener like this. It has many finishes to choose from, and the $12 price tag is comparable to the ones I saw in home improvement stores. The reason I did not buy it? This is the only thing I actually need now and the shipping is not free for just this. I guess it is really hard to convince me to buy something…

4. Red berry door mat

I adore this door mat. Winter is coming to Colorado and we have lost all the leaves on the trees. I started craving evergreen trees with red berries – they dress up snowy Christmas so well! But we just got similar doormat without the berries from IKEA. New mat will have to wait for the old ones to fall apart.

5. This rug

I’ve been wanting a calmer rug for a while. What we currently have is a green IKEA HAMPEN, which my dogs adore. It looks and feels more expensive than the $30 price tag, and it can take a looot of abuse. When it became too worn or smelly, which happens when you have dogs, we just replace it for another $30. But the color of the rug is too intense for this ranch. I want something that is more neutral, but not boring. And this rug really gets me:

$250 is not a bad price for a 5′ x 8′ wool rug. I especially like how it looks laying with a hemp rug.

However, the reason I did not buy it is the exact reason why we have the green rug at the first place – the dogs. See these fussy ends coming off the rug? I am 200% sure that Charlie will chew on them on day 1. The hemp rug will not be ignored either.

6. The throw

This throw is still over $100 when it was on sale, so buying it was not an option for me. All our blankets and throws are dog-tested, which means they all got chewed more or less. Based on how many holes on them, they all get discarded eventually. But I liked the pattern on this throw, which reminds me folk arts in the mountains in south Poland.

7. All-white pillowcases

The last thing is pure utility. We always use all-white pillowcases and I generally replace them every year (Slav’s pillow will be in cream color at that point). This pair is $17 and I like the simple design of it. I did not buy them because we are not replacing our pillow cases yet, and they are still $17 after the big sale. So I can get them whenever I actually need them. Again, a good price tag and the fact I like it are usually not good enough reasons for me to hit the checkout button – it has to be what I love, something I need immediately, and will be using a lot. 🙂

Here they are, the seven things I almost bought this week. Did you buy any home decor this Thanksgiving?

My First Carpentry Work!

Ladies and gentlemen, I built these!

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And I built them 100% by myself, without Slav’s help!

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I’ve been wanting to learn woodwork for a while. But as a handyman’s wife, I am both lazy and intimidated to start. I do plenty of DIY. In fact, I designed most of the furniture we built. But when it gets to the actual cutting and drilling, Slav shows up with his drill and takes over. Over the years, the separation of our work flow became more and more exclusive, to which point I do not even know where our drill is anymore. There is nothing wrong with job specialization – it does speed up the process of a big project. But for small projects like door trims, a picture hedge, or hanging shelves, it would have been much more efficient if I did not have to call Slav every time I need to drill into a wall.

The problem is – better Slav gets, more clumsy I get, and more intimidated I am to try. I think we both just assume that I will hurt myself using tools at this point. And I really really want to change that. I want to feel comfortable with power tools. I want to be able to pick the right screws for the right job. And I want to be able to take over small projects so Slav can focus on large scale project such as walls and plumbing. The ranch house has brought so much work, and every single one involves using power tools. I do not want to just make a honey-to-do list and nag Slav to complete everything.

When the need of a pair of saw horses comes around, I saw a great opportunity for me to start. Sawhorses are simple to build – Ana White published this simple plan with a complete cut list and an easy-to-follow video, so I can just focus on the building part. The material is cheap and simple, just some 2″x4″s, so if I screw up, little will be wasted. Most importantly, these are just saw horses. They do not need to be pretty or have a nice finish, so I can feel free to practice on them and learn from my mistakes.

I started by gathering materials. We took down a wall in our utility room a while ago and still have some of these 2″x4″ framing lumber laying around. They are cut into random length during the demo process, and a lot of them have nails on them. But they are long enough to provide some usable pieces for the sawhorse.

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I picked out all the long and relatively good pieces and hammered out the nails. Slav reluctantly pointed out that 2″x4″s are cheap, so it does not make much sense to dig into junk wood pile and risk to cut my hands with rusty nails. And he is absolutely right. But I also to wanted to practice using pry bar and hammers, and I am stingy genetically. So I kindly reminded him that it was International Men’s Day and World Toilet Day, and he should be doing what men do on the toilet and leave me alone.

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After half an hour of work, I managed to harvest lots of good-looking lumber without breaking my skin. Points for that!

I did need more 2″x4″‘s, so I picked up two from Lowe’s along with some wood screws. I made two mistakes while doing that – one is I did not inspect the 2″x4″s carefully. I did check the straightness – and you bet I did it proudly because it made me felt like an expert. But I did not double check the length of these lumbers. One 2″x4″ is 4 inches shorted than expected 8’. But fortunately I did not need the whole length. The other mistake is that I did not get enough screws, apparently 50 of them are not enough for two saw horses!

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I marked length on all the pieces according to the cut list, and fired up the miter saw:

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Roxie watched me and licked saw dust off my hair. It is truly wonderful to have dogs.

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I dry fit the pieces together after cutting. I can definitely get better at the miter saw – the pieces were a bit uneven at the end and corners, and sometimes I did not push the miter saw down enough, which resulted in jagged edges. Luckily, none of the mistakes prevented me from continuing the assembly.

The next step was to put the pieces together. I picked deck screws for the job, which might be a bit overkill, but they grab so well that they made the job really easy. I made a mistake not picking up enough of them, which became a good lesson, because I got to try all different kinds of long screws we had around, and figured out that I did not like self-drilling screws so much. I also learned quickly that having two drills around can make the work a lot faster when pre-drilling is needed.

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It took me probably 20 minutes to assemble the first sawhorse, but a lot quicker for the other one. After building the first one, I decided to spice it up by adding on top a piece of 1″x8″ we had laying around:

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If you have looked the cut list, you will notice that I skipped the 1″x3″ cross braces. The sawhorses were already very steady and I was running low on long screws, so I decided that having a pretty top was more important than cross bracing. 🙂

Here are the sexy pair. Aside from the scrap wood, I bought one box of screws and two 2″x4″s.

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These saw horses are built to give our miter saw a boost, so we no longer need to cut on the patio. We have work benches in the garage, but we prefer to cut lumbers outside so our garage remains saw-dust free. Without a miter saw table, it can get really hard on our backs.

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Slav immediately used it for his quarter round trims (another weekend project, stay tuned). My build is now Slav-approved! Below is the photo evidence – right after Slav crossed himself for using my saw horses.

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To end today’s post, I want to give a shout to Ana’s Youtube channel. I have been watching it for a few months now, and it really inspired me to tackle woodwork myself. Guess who will be building more after today’s first project? This lady!

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