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Last Wednesday I went with my mom to the Used Gear sale at the Portland REI where they sell off for cheap all the stuff people bring back under their satisfaction guarantee policy. This ranges from shows that were worn outside for 10 minutes before the person decided the fit wasn't very good, to "tent worked great for 20 years, now there are no poles" (seriously, who does that?). Anyway, I spent $50 on an REI Quarter Dome T3 under the theory that it weighs only a smidgen (~3 oz) more than our current backpacking tent, and is about 3x as big inside. We borrowed our friend Scott's spacious 3-person tent (that he and his wife use) when we went on our week-long backpacking trip in the Emigrant Wilderness (I should get around to posting about that one of these days, it was a fantastic trip), and were converted to the idea of a slightly larger tent. Also, we fully expect to be putting 3 people in it soon (well, within a few years, don't get excited). Anyway, this tent is bigger but not really heavier than our old tent for a few reasons: better engineering, better materials, and area scaling non-linearly with volume.

The reason it was so cheap (about 1/6 of the retail price) is because there is a big hole in the floor and some small holes in the rainfly. Those are very serious, but not insurmountable, problems. I have seam sealant, I have appropriate patch fabric, and I have the sewing skills. Trouble is the tent specs say that the floor and rainfly are ripstop nylon. However, they LOOK rather more like silicone impregnated nylon. Figuring out the which it is is important because the kind of sealant you use depends on the kind of fabric, and I'll be needing my sealant to stick to both the existing tent fabric, and the patch.
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Spent the afternoon working with my dad on the new chicken-mobile. It's coming along nicely. We are building it onto a trailer frame and it will have their food, nesting boxes, and roosting house, to enable them to be easily moved from place to place. Today we got a wooden foundation built onto the trailer. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it meant finalizing the size and general design of the thing, so it's actually kind of a big step. We stopped once we were done with that part as the next step requires first purchasing a couple 4x8 sheets of plywood.

After that my dad noticed that one of the doors in the shed is no longer opening and closing and went about fixing it.

While he was doing that I started work on repairing a drawer in Josh's dresser. You see, back in 2004, during the summer after I graduated from Mudd, we were staying with Josh's parents, preparing to move into our first real place together, and we bought this bedroom set at a garage sale. The bed was kind of funky and has since been replaced, but the dressers are really nice. Well, I thought so anyway. Josh has been complaining about his not being nice enough for ages. Eventually, just a few weeks ago, I figured out why he felt that way. The top drawer of his dresser was missing the wooden track that would make it slide nicely. Instead it's been working about as well as the drawer in the funkiest piece of garage sale furniture you've ever touched. Today I made a replacement modeled off the track on the second drawer down. With some guidance from my dad on choosing the right tools and using the table saw for the first time. Once we thought we were done we brought it in and found that it worked great in the slot where the second drawer goes (aside from being too short), but not so well where it belongs. Turns out the rail for the top drawer was a little off center, so we ended up fixing that too. It's not quite as good as new, but it again has very good motion. This is an exceptionally well built piece of furniture, as close examination shows, and that drawer no doubt had exceptional motion when it was new. Yay for high quality cheap garage sale furniture, and yay for learning how to fix it so that it can again live up to it's potential!
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I put what I'd hoped would be the final coat of polyurethane on the table I got a while back for my office at work. (Sadly, I didn't do a good job and it will need another final coat eventually.) It looks pretty nice and is small and round (3 ft round with a pedestal instead of legs), so we decided to put our ugly kitchen table in my office at work and this one in our kitchen. Did the exchange tonight, and I think it will be a nice improvement in the kitchen. (Our kitchen is TINY, so making optimal use of it is important.)

Additionally today, I got to play with the scroll saw as I was helping Josh work on the speakers he is making. A scroll saw is a saw with a little tiny blade that allows you to cut out fun shapes. I've probably said it before, but I will say it again: the scroll saw is way cool and lots of fun. You can do fun little shapes and it totally feels like sewing... except you are cutting wood instead of joining fabric.

Also working on Josh's speakers, I got to use the router. A router is the tool that is used for things like the nice rounded (or more ornate) edge of a dining room table, or for the top of a baseboard. In our case, we were using it to make the entrance to the port rounded. It was fun also.

Anyhow, all this leaves me thinking I kind of want to make a china cabinet. I'm just thinking about all the cool stuff I could do with a scroll saw and a router... and a big pile of wood and lots of time on my hands. Well, maybe someday. When it's not about to be freezing cold in the garage for 6 months. In the mean time, I will probably just make myself one more shelf for the china cabinet I have now.

Or maybe I will get another china cabinet off craigslist. I like this one. Though I'm not sure that's really the "style" I want in my dining room, I think I could do nicely for books and games in a living room someday and would go really nicely with our antique couch and victrola players. Price is right too. Too bad it's 2 hours away. Don't like it that much.
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What I did today... Sewing... )

About that sewing desk, including photos )

Anyhow, tonight we are going Contra Dancing. It's actually time to go now. But before I go, I wanted to show off my mad hair styling skills. I didn't realize I had enough hair to do anything so fun! Also, want to show off my mad self-portrait with a camera skills. Mirrors are fun.

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On getting the new sewing machine working. Blow by blow... )

I did some practice stitching on a rag. I set the Singer to 6 stitches/inch and it covered the rag in 11 seconds. I set the BabyLock to 4.5 mm (which should give it the advantage) and it covered the rag in 17 seconds. Yay 35% higher speed!

So aside from putting that knob on upside down and the labels therefore all being wrong, it seems to be in great working order, and will be a useful supplement to my other machine.

Also, it means I can loan a machine to Danielle at work without being without. Or better yet, I can invite her over to sew with me.

ETA: Silly me, the catch on the knob can be uncaught by pinching with pliers just so (think like certain kinds of child safety caps that you sometimes find on household chemicals--remembering those is how I figured it out). It's fixed now too. Perfect.
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The woman I purchased the sewing machine for $5 from yesterday said that it worked. And, strictly speaking, it does. But it clearly desparately needs a tune up. It goes slow and groans like at the very least it is desparate for oil. The knob to which I think adjusts the pressure on the presser foot also seems to have some more serious threading problem that worries me a little... the threads no longer thread, they just push right by one another. Not sure what to do about that, but I'm thinking I might just need to see if I can purchase a replacement knob.

At any rate, it's still got the instruction manual (which I just ironed), so hopefully I can take the whole thing apart, clean it, and put it back together... as I'm told you are supposed to do periodically with these old Singers and see what that buys me.

But first, I'm going to make waffles. Because my husband asked for them. And he never asks for waffles. Normally he makes them for me.


Feb. 10th, 2009 08:20 pm
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I added a shelf to our bookcase tonight.  I got the idea a while back when I was thinking to myself how unfortunate it was that we were out of space on this bookcase (this is the one from Target that is downstairs and has media and games on it, not the one we made ourselves), since we don't have another bookcase available to put down here and no where to put another bookcase anyway.  Well, this bookcase has movable shelves and holds a lot of short things like CDs, so installing another shelf is pretty easy.  We went to Home Depot and purchased one of those fake-wood pre-made shelves in the right depth and about the right color and longer than necessary.  I made use of the fact that the car is gone (bringing Josh to Volleyball) and cut down the shelf to the right size tonight with the chop saw my parents gave me for Christmas.  I had to go in once from each side because the chop saw only handles things up to 6 inches and the shelf was 12 inches.  However, it seems that 6 inches + 6 inches is about a half inch short of 12 inches, so I had to use a hand saw for the last little bit.  I guess they get away with this because a 6-by is not actually 6 inches or something like that.

Anyway, I got it installed only to discover that given that shelf #2 from the bottom is not movable, and given the locations of the holes, I could give myself 3 shelves tall enough (indeed much taller than necessary) for CDs, but only one shelf tall enough for DVDs/VHSs.  One shelf is not enough for all our movies.  So I had to add more holes strategically placed so that now I can have two shelves of CDs and two shelves of movies.  Also, since my new shelf was a little dark, I decided to put it in the lowest position and put the shelf from there higher put, so it was truly only the immovable shelf which didn't end up moving (and getting emptied) as part of this project. 

All this finally done, I re-loaded everything onto the bookshelf and to my dismay, I was so much more efficient at putting everything else away than we were when we first loaded it that I have an entire empty shelf!!!  Oops.  Oh well, I'm sure we will fill it up sooner or later.  It seems one always does. 
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We found fabric we liked reasonably well at Joann's a few days ago, but weren't ready to make the plunge yet. We decided to go ahead and get it tonight since my parents will be here in a little more than a week and want to work on it with us. And it's 50% off through tomorrow... which is a lot when you are talking about $30/yard x 10+ yards. We were just a little concerned they might not have enough in the store. Well, fortunately, they had enough fabric. Unfortunately, they didn't have enough in one piece. Fortunately, the biggest piece seemed to be big enough to cut our big pieces out of and we figured we'd manage to get the small ones out of the rest. Unfortunately, the two pieces didn't match... at all... upon closer inspection! Fortunately, we could just order a single 12 foot bolt online. Unfortunately, one of the pieces was considerably more attractive than the other and there was no way to know which we'd get... but it looked like it would probably be the less attractive one. Also, it's back ordered online and more and half again as much more expensive. Ugh. So back to the drawing board.

At least we wont be kicking ourselves for not taking the trip up to the store.
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My lack of success with stripping the paint off the handles seems to have been a matter of a lack of time.  I let the stripper sit there for around an hour before I first checked to see if the paint would come off.  The instructions say to strip the paint after about 1 hour.  However, unlike with wood, there was little danger of destroying the underlining material of the handles by letting the stripper sit on them for a while, so in my frustration, I didn't clean them up but left them right where they were.  6 hours later when I checked on them again, the paint came right off.  However, they are in desperate need of polishing.

I've tried a couple home made polish suggestions, with no luck.  And now the kitchen reeks.  I think I'm going to head out to Ace and buy myself some nasty store bought brass polish.  Anyway, it will get me out of here, and that is an attractive thought now that I've stunk the place up.  Except for the part where it involves getting dressed.  Bah, how lame.

I'm also looking onward to my next big project, reuphostering our couch (the one that used to be Grandma M's couch).  I'm especially thinking about it now that I got my pretty painting hung above the couch... a pretty painting with colors that probably would have nicely complemented the couch when it was new, but now really draw attention to how faided and ratty it has gotten.  I'm leaning toward this fabric, though I'm still kind of hoping to find something a bit more like the original fabric, of which I'm a big fan (or rather, assume that I would have been back when it was new... I'm a big fan of what I imagine that fabric used to look like).  For those of you who haven't seen our couch or haven't seen it in a while, it's the one on the right in this picture (though some imagination will still be required on the fabric). Of course, I'll have to talk over fabric options with Josh before I get started, but right now he's out getting the car's feet rotated and balanced. 
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Like I posted before, we sold our old dining room chairs this morning, and were so glad to have them out of the house.

Also, as I think I posted yesterday, I finished varnishing my desk and took it inside today (post with pictures will be coming sometime).  It still needs handles.  I will probably buy these online as neither Ace nor Home Depot seem to carry drawer handles with 2.5 inches between centers.  Blah.  I'm also trying my hand at stripping the paint off the handles it came with because I like them and I had leftover stripper.  Results are not promising so far.

We also rearranged the bedroom furniture and are discussing the other rooms as well.  This townhouse isn't significantly smaller than our last place, but with the baseboard heat and different arrangement, we still feel like we haven't quite figured out how to make everything fit the way we want.  Slowly but surely I think we're making progress though.  We'll probably get this place feeling like a proper home before we move again...

I also repaired the giant ding our china cabinet got when we moved.  When I was at Ace looking at handles, I found a wood touch up product I'd never heard of before: Wood Scratch Repair Kit.  I didn't have high hopes for a repair kit that looked like it consisted of 4 crayons and cost only $3, but my attempts to fix it with the little touch up pens had totally failed since the gouge was kind of deep and didn't take the color evenly at all.  This repair kit at least claimed to be somewhat space filling.  Anyhow, it actually worked really well.  I wish I'd taken a picture of it before I started because the quality of the repair is pretty impressive.  Had I not used the pens in the first place, I think it'd be practically impossible to find the problem without feeling it, and even as it is now one could easily mistake it for a feature of the wood grain.  I'm pretty pleased.

Also went through part of my closet (the easy half), and pulled out some clothes I don't think I'm ever going to wear (or wear again) to get rid of.  I should do the second half at some point.  I don't think I have yet gotten rid of enough stuff to alleviate the hanger shortage crisis in our household. 

Other than that, it's been a pretty lazy day and I have precious little to show for myself.  I think we're going to go contra dancing in a few minutes here though.  Hopefully I will manage to stay awake. 
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... but I wish she knew a bit more about sewing.

A few years ago she gave me this pattern (and accompanying fabric) for a nice garment that really wasn't my style, so I never made it.  But it is just what I need for Halloween this year, so I am making it now.  Now I'm sure she thought that a pattern with sizes 6 through 12 would, of course, contain the right size for me.  And it would... if sewing sizes were like store bought clothing sizes.  In sewing sizes I am a 15.  Fortunately I do know how to size up patterns, so it should still work.  But it would have been easier with the right size...  silly sewing sizes...

No, you don't get to know the costume yet.  I'll post pictures after Halloween, and hope that I am recognizable enough for people to figure it out. 

And now I shall to bed, in hopes of not getting any sicker than I already am.  Because I so can't afford to miss work right now. 

Actually, that's not quite true.  I wanted to say that I am really enjoying playing volleyball.  And I made my first spike today.  Okay, so it wasn't like an amazing spike or anything (it came back), but it did go over the net and I am very proud of that... never done that before.  I don't mean never in a game either, I mean never ever.  And last week I served a whole bunch of times in a row... and not just a whole bunch for me, it was a whole bunch by our team's standards too (of course, that's not "all me" or anything, but most of the time most of us can't make that many good serves in a row to start with).  I'm not sure I'm not still the weakest player on the court, but for once I'm not sure that I am either... at any rate I don't feel like a horrible liability to the team anymore, and I feel really awesome about that. 


Oct. 21st, 2008 08:00 pm
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I brought my sewing machine to the repair place right after work today (they close at 6pm), and was told by the front desk woman that they have a big backlog and are scheduling people for repairs the first week of December.  I asked how much a repair of a bobbin winder would run me and described the problem.  She went in the back and got the repair guy and I told him what the problem was and how I used to be able to tap it and it went, but now nothing seems to work.  He took the little plastic cappy thing off and squirted some oil in and now it works good as new.  Yay!  He didn't charge me for it, but I'll be sure to bring my business there when I have real maintinance to be done.  Which might be soon... I've had the thing 3 years and haven't brought it in for a tune up yet... think I'm supposed to do that annually...  maybe the next time I'm scheduled 2 months in advance for a business trip I'll arrange to have it serviced while I am gone. 

Then I went to the St. Vincent de Paul Josh and I visited on Sunday (which was about 3 blocks away) and purchased the cute plum dress that I tried on on Sunday but didn't buy... only to discover once we got home that Josh was really disappointed I didn't get it.  And now I will take a moment to mention how wacked out women's clothing sizes are.  In the last 4 days I have purchased two very attractive dresses that fit me very well.  The first was a size 6 and the second was a size 10.  Granted they were both lace-up-the-back dresses, so that means a little extra give in the sizing, but still.  WTF? 

And finally I stopped by REI which was also on the way home and returned the duplicate sleeping bag (I ordered one for delivery to the store, and then it went on back order temporarily, but they still had ones in stock so I just bought one... then my order showed up before I had a chance to cancel it).  Also, said sleeping bag has gone on an even better sale, and since I bought less than 30 days ago, I get the newest best sale price and got the difference credited back to me.  Incidently, though we haven't been out in them yet, our new kilo flash down sleeping bags seem really nice.  And are now 35% off in case anyone was thinking of buying such a thing.  (Anyone interested in a men's long of such a bag should contact me before making such a purchase and I might be able to hook you up with an even better deal.) 
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So we were taking apart the laptop screens today, with the project of combining Daffodowndilly with Becca's old laptop... we thought we were all done before, only to open up the new Daffodowndilly II and discover that Becca's screen had a half dozen dead pixels we hadn't noticed. Anyway, this project involved actually taking the screen bit out of the screen bit casing because one of the hinges attached to my screen was broken.

On the back side of the screen there is this big giant sticker that says, "Sensitive Area - Don't touch white tape." Of course, you can't see that until you lift the screen out. And me, I lifted it out by the white tape. Doh. I guess the sticker was for the people assembling it in the first place.

Fortunately it seems the sticker was exaggerating. Everything is fine and nothing is ruined.

In other news, Josh and I were looking at tickets to Cincinnati for Christmas this morning. Only to get a call this afternoon from Josh's parents saying that, yes, they are definitely moving back to Atlanta... and before Christmas too. In fact, they've just put in an offer on a house. Fortunately we hadn't actually bought said tickets.
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I've done a significant amount of work on the desk the last 3 days (like, multiple hours each day), including a lot of use of the power sander. To update, when I started this evening, all the "outside" sides/front/back are done to 180 grit, and the inside "sides" were done to 80 grit. My goal for tonight was to do the inside "sides" to 180 grit tonight... which is probably only around 1 hours worth of work (not many corners/edges/curves, no more paint). However, I found after only a few minutes that I can hardly hold the power sander stable right now with my right hand because my muscles hurt (or really, not because they hurt... the pain isn't so bad... mostly they just don't respond to commands with any level of precision right now). My left hand has the same problem... only without any pain at all and for an entirely different reason.

Sigh. I'm so excited about getting this project done... and I have a hard enough time finding daylight hours to work on it... it's disappointing when I have the time to go out there and find I am unable to work on it. Oh well. I spent a good long time out there admiring it instead. Our entire evening is double booked tomorrow, so I should have a day to recover before I'm giving up any more time that I might have spent on it.

On the somewhat related subject of office furniture, we need more filing cabinets. Our funky little two drawer cabinet we bought in Evanston is getting rather full. I'd like to get something quad high, and at least double wide... possibly in a lateral configuration, and hopefully reasonably attractive looking (like wood or laminate). However, we might instead buy one or two of these or these (if they stack safely, which might be wishful thinking). As Josh is quick to point out, we really don't need that much filing space at this time... but I am confident we will eventually and have some desire for matching filing cabinets.

On the non-related subject of labtops, Becca's old Inspiron 1450 and another even older laptop arrived in the mail today. We'll be building a combination laptop out of Becca's old 1450 and my old 1450, which I am way more excited about than I have any right to be. Thanks Becca! That's exactly what I wanted for my birthday... and a month early too!
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Josh and I cleaned up the office today. It's been a wreck since... oh, pretty much when we moved in. We also moved my (old) desk out of here into the library/sewing room and the love seat in to take it's place... since I'd rather compute on the love seat than at a desk. It's nice in hear now that it's clean and organized.

I also spent 2-3 hours working on my (new) desk. The front, back, and one of the sides are now free of paint (or as free as they are getting) and fully sanded up to 180 grit sand paper (I need to work my way up to 300-something before staining--one or two more rounds). The other side is within inches of being done... but my light went away. Then there are the inside bits (where your legs go). The rest of the sanding rounds should go faster because I will only be smoothing out the wood from my previous sanding jobs... rather than digging out every last speck of paint. Anyhow, I'm really pleased at my progress in the last few weekends. I think I should be able to get all the sanding done in another 20-30 hours. And then it's staining and varnishing! Yay!

Also, there are some spots where there was a hole before the desk was painted, which is now full of paint... and where these holes are deep, there is precious little I can do about them. The final step (or maybe next to last before varnishing) will be filling the holes with wood putty and maybe applying a little brown paint to touch up these imperfections. I'm really excited though... I feel like the end is actually in sight, however far away a sight it is...

My goal, which Josh assures me I will make because he hates scraping snow off the car, is to get the desk completely finished and out of the garage before the first snow of the year. So I'm counting on having at least until mid-October.

Next up: Reupholstering Grandma's couch. (Don't hold your breath...)

Now to do some work work...

Edited to add: Today, just now (9:50pm), I set a personal record. That's right, I jogged 1 mile without stopping! Never done that before. At 11 minutes 20 seconds, it wasn't the fastest overland mile I've ever done on foot, but it is the only one I've maintained a jogging pace for the whole thing nonstop.
sillygoosegirl: (Photo - Expose Yourself to Mudd)
I feel like I am stripping paint off of Gabriel's trumpet.

New Desk

May. 17th, 2008 06:21 pm
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Last Sunday, Josh and I were on a walk and we ran across a desk sitting out by the curb. The owners were evidently getting rid of it. We checked, they were. It has some nice shape to it, and the drawers slide like a dream. All-in-all, it seemed pretty well made. We drove back to pick it up (after completely forgetting about it) around 11pm. The folks were still up, in fact just saying goodbye to their guests. It ended up not fitting in our car, however. So we took the drawers and placed the rest of the desk up next to the house so it wouldn't get picked up with the trash. On Monday after work, we drove back over, verified that indeed it didn't fit, and then walked it home on the dolly.

Today we started the task of stripping the paint off. Stripping paint is a lot of work, especially if you do not use enough chemical stripper. Adding more chemical stripper (and then waiting around for it to start working) helps a lot. However, it is still a slow process, and of course all the nice curves and details that make it such an awesome piece of furniture are slow to strip. We got the top done, along with the routered edge. Also got three of the four front legs stripped from top to bottom. It seems to me that stripping paint off a routered edge would be easier if you had the original router bit to scrape with. Oh well. Planning to spend a lot more time on it tomorrow, this time applying plenty of stripper to one region at a time (rather than not enough stripper to the whole desk). Chemical stripper is pretty nifty stuff when you use enough of it.

Too sexy for my paint. )
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I want to either make or buy a nice piece of address book software. I want one that's smart enough to track "households" and people separately, so that I don't have problems with older data confusing me when a couple with different last names move (or shoot, couples with the same last name whom I make separate entries for because I want to have their separate birthdays on hand), and I forget to update both entries. I also don't want a bunch of useless fields (company, position, etc) unless they can be turned off. However, I do want fields for entering children, birthdays, spouses, other notes, etc. So in essence I want one designed for social/home use, not for business... which is what it seems like most of them are designed for.

Anyone have suggestions of available software to handle this? Or alternately suggestions of things the software should include if I was to write it?
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So last year's budget spreadsheet was a bust. If any of you tried it, you found out that I didn't fully debug it. Plus, there were too many little sheets, hard to keep track of things, and a pain to correlate with statements since we never knew which category each purchase belonged to based on the info in the credit card statement.

This year I am trying a different approach. I've learned how to use the auto-filtering feature, and now I'm taking an approach where I have one (1) sheet that is a log of all purchases. Each purchase has it's own line with such useful information as the date, store, description, budget category, sub category, type (ie sub sub category), amount, payment method, and status (cleared this month, cleared before, not yet cleared).

Another sheet has all those recurring expenses that happen every month and I don't want to have to write down or find to copy and paste each month: rent, utilities, car insurance, student loan payments, etc. It's the same as the one above, but only has the regular bills in it.

For reconciling with statements, I can filter by "not yet cleared", and "payment method", so I'm only looking at uncleared purchases made with the account at hand. Further, I can filter by date and store if I need to.

For giving myself a nice overview of spending, I can then generate reports based on the data I have. Using the wonderful =ProductSum() function, I can find out how much I spent in a given category, sub category, etc in a given time period. I can categorize a purchase of winter bike clothing under "transportation", still be able to find it when I reconcile receipts, and furthermore have it come out of the "transportation" budget, but still contribute to the total if I was to ask the question, "just how much have we spent on clothes this year?" I am working up a single sheet of common information I think I will want to see graphed or tabulated, so we can see how we are doing and stuff.

Furthermore, I am thinking of adding 3 more sheets which will help us keep track of how much money we have/owe in each of our accounts. One of them would record transfers (paying the statement balance at the end of the month on a credit card is a transfer from checking to that card account). Another would allow us to define allocations so we could say, "We're setting aside our extra $50 of 'entertainment money' to spend on season tickets to the theater next fall." And then actually have a record of making that "transfer", how much is saved up so far for the particular thing, and what the total "available" money in checking (or savings) is since we'd be treating the "allocated" money like an uncleared check. The final sheet would have all the running "available balance" records for all accounts, and hopefully also keep track of what the balance should be in each account, given what has cleared or not... to verify that everything is really and truly reconciled the way it should be. I'm still not at all sure what these last 3 sheets will look like, but the ideas are forming.

And before you ask me why I don't just get an off-the-shelf program to do this... well, my way is more fun and if I ever get it working right, it'll be exactly what I want. Besides Excel is fun crack. So :-P


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