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

Tag: Holidays Page 1 of 2

Suddenly, the Tiger Year

Suddenly, we entered another lunar new year. And suddenly, we lost our beloved black lab, Charlie to old age.

Losing Charlie has changed our life significantly. We have been caring for Charlie during the last year and half, including daily medication, frequent vet visits, and a couple major surgeries. Now suddenly, our responsibility as pet owners was reduced to the bare minimal, just providing Roxie some dry food and water. It almost feels like we have no one to care for.

It has only been a few days since Charlie’s passing. His paw prints are still visible on the snow in the backyard, and his medication are still in the fridge next to the ketchup bottle. We are trying to get used to the life without Charlie, with all the difficult first times – the first dinner without him drooling next to our feet, the first morning without him greeting us on top of the stairs, and the first weekend without his loud snores and warm cuddles. I have the urge to adopt another dog immediately, just to fill the void left by Charlie. But we also know that we should wait, at least for a few months, until the kitchen renovation is finished.

Yes, we have made plans to renovate the kitchen in Spring. We have come up with a floor plan, purchased the cabinets, researched the appliances, and even booked a contractor. I was eager to share all the details with you in January – I even wrote a couple posts for the blog. But then Charlie passed on the 2nd day of Chinese new year, and suddenly 2022 became unexciting and loathsome. Understandably, it was hard to finish these drafts I wrote just a few days ago, which were filled with excitement and hope for the new year. However, I will come back soon with the new floor plan for the kitchen. It is gonna be a great space, I promise. 

At the end of this post, I want to share a song from “Guardian”, a thriller I enjoyed a few years back. The show is about trust and sacrifice among people from different worlds, and the lyrics of the song is in Mandarin. I think it says something like this:

过去的昨天,一切还那么真切

Yesterday in the past, memory plays like reality

回想起一篇篇, 在这模糊了双眼

Looking back the time with you, through my tearing eyes

最后让繁忙继续把我往前推

Letting the hustle and bustle continue, carrying me forward

妄想着路尽头, 你能回头看着我

Dreaming in vain that you will be there waiting, when I reach at the end of my path

还是会想起, 那时的场景

Thinking over and over, the seasons we’ve shared

原谅我只是想, 这世界还会有个人, 能为你哭泣

Not letting it go, for still someone crying for your absence

到底都分离,就别说我爱你

Parting is inevitable, so let go I love you

事到如今的我,只是太在意

Right now, I just care a little too much.

Sorry I still care a little too much.

The Season of Joy

Merry Christmas, everyone! My wish comes a couple days late which only speaks for how relaxing the holiday break I had. We cooked a lot, hung out with friends, and went skiing a couple times. We spent a lot of time in our newly finished living space, where the Christmas tree was set. We replaced all the lights on our old pre-lit tree to make it a lot nicer. This is also the first time we have enough ornament to make the tree look full.

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We have been collecting ornaments for years from antique stores and estate sales. We favor wood toys, woodland animals, and weird-looking Santa ornaments.

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2020 was a special year. We did not go thrifting or get any ornaments online. Slav’s co-worker knit some coronavirus dolls for everyone in the company. We put ours in the tree as an ornament to remember this unusual year.

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We kept each other’s gift under the tree for a good part of December and opened them on the Christmas day. I gifted Slav a pair of cast iron pans and Slav gave me a birdhouse terrarium.

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We centered the Christmas tree in front of the living room window so it can be seen from the street. We also put lights on the pine tree in front of the house. In the evenings, both trees can be seen from where we sit.

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Pups often lay under the tree at night. I think they enjoy the twinkling lights too.

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The Christmas tree turned the living room a perfect space for sitting still in the evening, watching reading listening to music, and just spending time together. We have had a busy year with lots of upgrades to our home. We just need to make sure that we spend as much time enjoying it as we do working on it!

Storage Headboard DIY

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Happy Chinese New Year! This year’s zodiac animal is ox, which represents hardworking and progress. Hopefully the whole world will start moving again soon!

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Inside of my own house, the bathroom renovation has been static because Slav’s busy. I did manage to get some small DIY projects done myself and hang some art pieces, but honestly, I miss having a bathroom on the main floor.

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The latest DIY project I completed is a storage headboard for the Murphy bed:

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And now the Murphy bed area looks like this:

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The design concept

I have shown you how we installed the Murphy bed in my retreat room.

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However, the depth of this closet is 25″, a lot deeper than the required depth for the Murphy bed, leaving a significant gap.

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We knew at the time of installation that we needed a headboard to prevent pillows from slipping off the bed. In addition, we’d like to add a shelf above the bed for reading lamp, books and water or the night. Naturally, we decided to DIY this piece so it does not fit the space perfectly, but also can be customized exactly to our liking with the functionality we needed.

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I always wanted to give this wedge bolster pillow a try as a removable headboard. So the plan has always been to build a plywood box that fills the gap and also supports the wedge pillow from the bottom and from the back. This box should also provide internal storage for pillows and linen. Last, we prefer a floating design in order to expose the floor space for future refinish.

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The build

Unlike most of the furniture building, instead of completing the entire storage box in the garage then mounting it to the space, I decided to assemble this floating storage at the spot. This does not only save material, but also add structure integrity to the whole build as well as the closet. It also means that I will be measuring, cutting, and attaching different pieces to the side and back of the closet as I go.

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The first piece I cut was the bottom of the storage box. This board will support the wedge pillow, so I decided to place the bottom board just below the top of the mattress. The width of the closet measures 58″ at this height, and the unit should not be deeper than 14″ so the Murphy bed can open and close normally.

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So I cut a piece that is 14″ x 58″. Before installing it permanently, I popped it up with a stepping stool to the desired height and tested with the wedge pillow. Despite a 4″ gap between the mattress and the front edge of the board, the wedge pillow stayed in place well. This gap is required for the Murphy bed to operate normally.

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Having known that, I started with on the top surface  of the storage box. I wanted the headboard to be hidden from the front view, so I chose to have the top board sitting 16″ above the bottom one, just a dash lower than the top of the wedge pillow.

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The width of the top surface should be less than 12″ to accommodate the thickness of the wedge pillow.

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I cut a 58″ x 10″ plywood piece for the top. Again, before mounting it in place, I popped it up with a planter which happens to be 16″ tall as a trial run.

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Slav was around for this part of the operation and laughed that “your furniture design depends on the objects you had nearby…” Kinda true…But hey, it was the perfect height for the top surface!

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Since the closet already had plywood sides and back, both top and bottom boards can be directly mounted to the side wall panels. Now I only need to make a front panel, which functions as a door for internal storage access, as well as the backing board for the wedge pillow.

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I cut two pieces of plywood boards as the front panel so they are easier to open and close. They are both an inch taller than the top board, so when mounted vertically, they not only cover the whole front edge of the top shelf, but also create a small curb for the top shelf.

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As you can see, the design of the headboard is extremely simple. My goal has always been keeping the headboard construction minimal and completely hidden when the bed is in use, while satisfying all the features we want for the Murphy bed area: storage, back support, and a horizontal shelf.

The installation

With all the pieces cut to size, I edge banded the pieces and cut some scrap wood strips to link the top and bottom boards onto the side walls.

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To mount the front panels/doors, I used hidden hinges to connect the door panels to the top shelf.

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A few L-bracket were mounted on the bottom board as a stop, so the door panels can stay vertical without swinging inward.

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Then I placed the wedge pillow on the bottom board and in front of the doors – now we have the storage headboard for the Murphy bed!

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Just like we planned, You cannot see the headboard when standing in front of the bed.

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The space inside the storage headboard now stores allthe pillows and beddings we have for this bed. When we need to fold the bed up, the top shelf is perfect for storing the wedge pillow. Therefore, everything for making the Murphy bed is stored in the Murphy bed alcove without occupying additional closet space.

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The finishes

I switched the painting above the bed to a set of watercolor art, and added a white lamp and a couple plants:

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The large and cool-colored art toned down all the wood color, making this little alcove a bit lighter and more relaxed.

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And this is how he Murphy bed area look like now!

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This headboard build completed all the DIY build in my retreat room/home office. The best part of the project is that I used exclusively the scrape plywood pieces from the Murphy bed build and the gear closet build, so the only cost for this project is four hidden hinges for $2.75! (We had the plywood edge band, L-bracket and screws in hand.) This is the charm of DIY – functionality, perfect fit, and saving!

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