Raised Beds

We finished building and filling these raised beds a few weeks ago. Planting season will be starting here at the end of the month, so I thought I would share before the time comes for me to get all my big plants in the beds. This weekend, I got some onions, radishes, and lettuce started in my beds, but I have a lot more planned for this space! I plan to add tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, dill, carrots, and potatoes, all once the weather is right!

These raised beds are 4 ft by 8 ft in size. We bought six 1 in x 12 in x 8 ft pressure treated boards. People don’t usually recommend using pressure treated, but they handle weather and they are no longer treated with poisons chemicals. We assembled them in place because 1 x 12s are very heavy. The only thing we did before assembling we the 2 cuts for the end boards.
Once we had all the boards together, we paired up the end pieces so the the ones of most similar size were together. Then we began butting the ends up, making sure the were flush, and pre-drilling before screwing in deck screws. Once one end was assembled, we would attach the other end in the same manner. We then did this to the other bed, so both beds were assembled where we were going to have them at the end.
Then we leveled the beds, and made them square. The first bed was on a large slope. We decided that if we could get at least 2 boards flat, the we can prop up the other 2 with some extra rock we had. It took us several hours to get it level, once it was level, we squared it, then propped up the corner that had no support. We then built a small stone wall to hold up the bed and fill in the gaps. The second beds was easier since it was on mostly flat ground. To fill these beds, we used excess dirt we had around our yard. Around the house there were several mulch beds that were almost a foot deep. We stripped off all the layers of mulch that was now mostly dirt, and added them to the beds. We then topped the beds with 1 inch of mulch to keep away weeds, and to give the beds a finished look.

This weekend when we were planting, we had to move the mulch from where we were working. This mulch got added to 2 fabric pots I have, that will need to be filled in the next few weeks before planting. We also turned up the grass in one bed, but didn’t for the other. The grass in the one we turned up is already a slight problem, whereas the one we didn’t turn up, there is no signs of dirt growing under the ~10 inches of dirt there. I would recommend not turning up the dirt if your dirt will be thicker than 6 inches on top of your grass.

Squirrels in the Attic

Josh and I purchased this house the end of last May. Lustrons, I’ve heard, can get all sorts of critters in them, usually into the attic through gap in panels, or into the access panels in the utility room through gaps along the side of the house.
We began hearing noise in the attic almost as soon as we moved in. There was a gap in the roofing between the roofing and where the gutters attach. Shortly after hearing them scratch in the walls, we heard them chewing on our metal house. Since the weather was good last weekend, we decided to finally seal it. Josh cut a piece of sheet metal to help close the gap where they had been chewing. Finally, we added a screw between the panels where there would have been one, but must have fallen out at some point before we bought the house.
The next morning, Josh had work, but the squirrel got back to chewing. I went outside once the sun came up, and saw the fuzzy little faces of at least 3 babies trapped in the attic with a very frantic mama biting the new sheet metal piece. Josh went to work, and I decided to free them. I grabbed the ladder, undid the new screw, and added a block of wood for her to get her babies, and we left it for 3 days before we sealed it up again. The day I had been opening the roof again, Newman and I had heard some noise in the utility room. And after a few hours, we also heard some cries from a little squirrel that must have fallen into the utility room wall. I told josh and he grabbed a small trap from his parent’s house that we set up that night, but we didn’t hear anything more after that. There are plenty of ways into that wall since we usually have some mice, shrew, and voles passing through in the winter. Josh and I inspected the space when we were pulling out the trap, and there were no signs of a squirrel. We are sure the mama was looking and managed to get the little guy out.
All that to say, never a dull moment in this house! We’ve sealed everything back up, and we’ve seen no signs of anymore of our squirrel friends. We did by a spray animal repellent that we’ve applied, and it may be doing something, who knows!

Kitchen Cabinet Updating

Ever since we bought the house last June, I have disliked the kitchen cabinets. The tan seemed dated and showed every stain, and the white framing was another thing I didn’t like. It took me a long time to pick the color I wanted because I wanted the kitchen to be a certain way. I wanted a dark gray that wasn’t too dark, but also was a true gray without any undertones. I did lots of looking and my local Home Depot had a Behr paint called Anonymous that I just knew was the one. We also didn’t want to buy new hinges for this project, because we’ve thought about making new doors in the future. So, I soaked the old hinges in scolding hot soapy water for 1 hour, before leaving on towels to dry another hour before painting. The paint we used was on the hinges was the same we had used on the hall light fixture, Rustoleum spray paint in the color Brushed Nickle.

First, I removed all the doors and hinges. I began scrubbing down the remaining cabinets with a mixture of hot water and comet. I then taped off the inside of the cabinets and painted them. By the time I finished my first coat it had dried at the beginning, so I added my second coat then. The next day, I added the hinges to scolding water, and began scrubbing down the doors with more comet-water mixture. I then pulled out the hinges and let them dry on a towel for an hour before taking them to the garage to spray paint. Once done, I began taping off the doors to paint only the faces. I painted only three doors that day. On my third day, I finished painting the cabinets with two layers of paint. I waited for them to dry, then hung the doors on the new hinges, and reattached the handles.

I then took a week off before starting the bottom cabinets. I had Josh pull off the baseboard for me, and I pulled off the rubber baseboard before I started. I used a bladed scraper to remove the glue residue that would stick out above the new trim. I then used wood putty on the doors and cabinets wherever there was a seam or gap, that was the end of my first day. The next day, I pulled off the hinges and doors. I began soaking the hinges. I then sanded all of the cabinets and washed them with more comet-water mixture. Once dry, I began painting the left island cabinets. I gave that two coats, then I went outside and painted the hinges. When I came in, I gave the right hand cabinets two coats and added the drawers back in. On the third day, I painted the remaining drawers. I sanded the doors where there was putty, then I scrubbed the doors with more comet-water mixture. I waited for them to dry and painted only three doors that day. On the fourth day, I painted the cabinet doors, and attached the handles to all the cabinets. And on the fifth day, I hung all the painted doors and hinges. My kitchen was painted!

Dishwasher to Storage

We’ve been working on this project on and off for several months now. Our dishwasher died in December and rather than have a broken machine in our kitchen, we decided it would be better to have the extra storage. Here I’ve split up the process into the big steps that we took.

Removing Dish Washer

First, we had to remove our dishwasher. We turned off the water near the dishwasher, remove the foot board, and lower the dishwasher. We then pulled out the machine, unhooked the water and drainage pipes, and we fully removed the dishwasher from our house.

Capping Garbage Disposal

The drainage for the dishwasher came into our garbage disposal. This posed an issue since the garbage disposal usually had a metal plug that would keep it sealed, but once it is popped out, there is no way to reattach it even if you kept the tab. We ended up using a rubber foot for protecting a chair leg and used a hose clamp to attach it onto the arm of the garbage disposal.

Making Walls, Bottom Shelf, & Painting

We were left with a mess. There was a hole in the left wall there the hoses were run to/from the water supply, and there were live wires for that was the dishwasher. First, Josh capped off each wire and wrapped it with electrical tape (the universal sign for a live wire), we then attached it out of the way. We got it so our water was no longer leaking and so that we won’t have to worry about them leaking again any time soon. We cut out the section of damaged wall, cut a piece of plywood to fit, and attached it with glue, filled the crack with a glue and sawdust mixture, plastered the wall, and sanded it flat. We used MDF to create a false wall in the back. We used brackets to wedge it against the wall since we didn’t want to put screws into our metal walls. We then made the bottom shelf with plywood and 2 2×4 feet that ran the width of the gap, with one placed in alignment with the cabinets on either side. This made a consistent kick board along the ground. Finally, we glued in the shelf to the cement, and we calked in the shelf and painted everything white.

Making Curtain Rod and Shelves

Josh made a holder for the curtain rod. He used 1/2 inch wood to create mounting points on either end. He drilled into each a hole for 1/2 inch conduit, and that would be my curtain rod. I had a set of extra curtains from college, so I added one panel, sewed it to the correct length, then attached the curtain rod. The mounting points for the curtain rod don’t have an option to simply remove the rod at this point, but we plan to rework this in the future. You can also just order a small tensions rod off the internet as long as you have the measurements. Finally, Josh took some aluminum angle to make the mounts for the selves. He drilled 3 holes to attache each to the sides of the cabinets and he added some on top if i even want to attach the shelves permanently. I picked the height I wanted, Josh cut 23/32 inch plywood to be shelves, I added 2 coats of white paint to everything, installed, and reorganized.

Final Product

New Light Fixtures

This weekend, Josh and I went to a new liquidation store a few towns over. While we were there, we were looking at their light section, and we had talked many times about how bad our lighting was and how our fixtures didn’t match what our styling was. On top of this, this store had a good selection, and we were able to get the ceiling light for $23 and we bought their last one, and the wall sconce was only $8.

After that, we finished our Christmas shopping, and crashed for the night. On Sunday, we had to run out to Home Depot to get the 13 watt bulbs needed for the kitchen, and boy was it worth it! Josh spent to rest of the afternoon putting up the lights. It was kind of weird since the ceiling light needed the ground attached to the bracket before it attaches, so I had to hold the light near the ceiling while Josh attached the bracket. Also, it was nice to find light boxes in the ceiling and wall, since we didn’t have one behind our medicine cabinet. The light box in the ceiling isn’t attached to the ceiling at all, but the wires attached through a smaller hole, so there is no risk of that falling. The original kitchen light also had insulation underneath the plate. Though that was the case, we installed the new light without insulation, with the thought that we can always add some later if we so desire or need.

The wall sconce however was a complete disaster trying to install. Originally, Josh thought that would be the easy one, and the ceiling light would be hard, but it was quite the opposite. First, we had to paint it, because it had an oiled brass finish, and we decided it would look better in nickle. But, the problems began shortly after. There was a light box behind the wall sconce, however it sticks out of the wall by about an eighth of an inch. So, the whole fixture is away from the wall a bit, but everything is weird about the design of the fixture. The bulb screws in toward the bottom left edge of the glass, and to not see the bulb, the bulb has to be twisted toward the right. So, the light is uneven, which can be seen a bit in the lit photo below. Also, nothing aligned with the new sconce. A bolt on the back hit the edge of the box making it stick out more, and the ground screw on the mounting bracket also prevented the light from laying flat. So, Josh had to switch brackets, and grind down the light box, making it so the light was nearly even with the wall.

Overall, things didn’t go as we had expected them to, however, they both turned out well nevertheless. The lights take a second to turn on in the kitchen and though we will probably change the wall sconce again in the future, it turned out well in the end. What do you think of the new fixtures? I’m excited to make a new recipe in the kitchen to show off my new lighting soon!

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