Saturday, April 15, 2023

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Our Tree Fort

Okay, so anybody that knows us knows that about a year ago we put 6 huge posts into the ground in our backyard for a tree fort. And those posts sat there, and sat there. We got busy, they got forgotten!

So this year, with a few empty weekend days (what's that?) and some encouragement from my parents, who were nice enough to add their physical and financial support, we've got the main part done! Yeahh!

So I figured I'd walk you through the process.

First, there were the posts... which sat there.

Then, about a month ago, those posts got supports! Tada! Iz, my dad, and his dad (not shown) spent a good morning, and part of an afternoon, getting these level and in place.

The weekend after that, we got joists! Here's the guys all working on them, well sort of.

Here's what they look like, since the last picture doesn't look much different than the supports.

We're going around our oak tree so that it feels like a tree house, without doing any damage to our trees.

Then we got the decking. There was a lot of back and forth on this step. We'd just planned on buying wood decking, as it's cheap and hadn't thought much of others. My parents got involved and by the time we were done, we had a composite deck going up (thanks mom & dad!).

Finally, the kids are up and in it.

So although they can get up in it, they've requested access for the dog. Yes, even Donny needs to get into the tree fort. So now we have stairs.

And to protect our privacy, and keep the neighbors from complaining, we've put up tarps.

At this point, we still need to put up railings, but the kids have been using it. Picnics are a favorite!

And a friend pointed out that all we needed were heads on a spikes to be a proper fort. So the kids dug out their minecraft stuff and here we go!

I'm sure there's a lot more to do, but they at least have the platform to play on!

Monday, June 30, 2014

13th Anniversary

So, I know I haven't written in a while, but I figured I'd take today and do a little post.

Today is Iz's and I's 13th Anniversary.

So, although this is older than 13 years, here's our first date photo! Yes, we were skinny... and young.

Not counting our years dating, we've been through a lot together and I thought I'd take the time to list a bit...

-Water in crawl spaces (and Iz spending a summer digging it out and putting in a sump pump)
-Finding out that oven's left on too long, shut themselves off. (I was not at home during this time, imagine that phone call!)
-Very sharp expensive knives are not to be used to hack at bones, and the manufacturer doesn't think so either considering they sent it back in a protective sleeve that said so.
-Building your own forge and melting metals in your backyard is an interesting way to develop crop circles. Which take most the year to grow back.
-Brewing our own apple cider/cysers (which were gross.)
-Making and operate an apple cider press
-Tan an animal hide & clean animal guts off the garage floor.
-Making our own soap.
-Skewers can be heated up over a gas burner to put holes in tupperware, but they also burn through floors.
-Making various garage tools, from blowers to vibrating brass cleaners.
-Lighting garage floors on fire (and I'm sure this wasn't purely for the kids entertainment.)
-Large old pick-ups can backfire and having your face over the carburetor while it does that is a bad idea.
-Camping trips with us tend to end with everyone soaking wet or someone throwing up or someone with stab wounds.
-All our projects take 4 times longer than we thought and usually cost 2-3 times more. And as we tend to follow "guidelines" more than plans, half the time we don't even end up with what we were aiming for in the beginning!

So thirteen years! It's been great, interesting and barely any boring moments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Custom Locket - Ginger Meek Allen

This whole process started with my wife saying "I'd love a locket". That is the first and only time I've heard my wife say something she would like that wasn't related to the house, or for someone else, or for the furniture, etc…you get the idea. Something for her that was honestly for only her.

So that started the quest for a custom locket maker. In 10 years of being married (17 years of knowing) my wife, I finally had a 'great' idea for a present for her, and some off the shelf locket just wasn't going to fit the idea of what I wanted to get her.

So I started the search for a custom locket maker. Googling "custom locket maker" is completely useless, unless you want a locket engraved. "Silversmith" was equally disappointing. Eventually got around to googling "Metalsmith" and found Ginger Meek Allen's website.

After reviewing her website and some reviews of her work, I contacted her. She was friendly and interactive within the first email. She was eager to start a new project, and genuinely wanted to include us in the process. Basically everything I wanted in a custom piece of jewelry.

She and my wife worked for a couple of weeks to get down roughly what my wife wanted. Ginger sent regular photo updates of progress.

It turned out beautifully.

Overall the experience was extremely friendly. Ginger was open to ideas that my wife brought up, and my wife was introduced to several other ideas that Ginger had. I can't recommend Ginger enough to anyone out there. Especially anyone that wants unique, one of a kind, personalized jewelry made for their loved ones.

Test Post - While Tattling on Isderf

Okay, so Isderf can't seem to post anything... so I figured I'd throw a little snippet your way while I see if this is going to work or not.

So the other day Isderf is working in the garage and my lights are dimming off and on so he must be using his homemade-from-a-microwave arc-welder.

He's got it timed, it allows him to weld for 2 WHOLE minutes and then needs 10 minutes to cool down. Of course, he's already gone thru one fan and we had to go to the Reuseum to procur another. If you haven't been, it's a great place to get cheap used parts and pieces for a variety of things. They have old computer parts, chemistry flasks, INL leftovers and even a glass melting furnace (a bargain at $999). If you have a significant other that can see exciting new projects in the smallest of items - I suggest you not mention it and delete this visit from your history.

Anyways... Isderf comes limping in after a while and since I've seen this I'm-trying-to-get-by-you-without-drawing-attention walk before, I stop him to find out what's wrong.

Turns out, he's splattered himself, just his foot but he does have a few small holes there now.

The funny part is that he splattered his foot because he went out to weld in flip flops and shorts. Needless to say, he went back outside in Carharts and leather boots. While he was changing, he told me that he'd watched a video early in the day and the guy had gone on and on about safety until he obviously got bored and stopped listening.

Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dancing Isderf

I just can't resist the temptation.
So, many of you probably don't know, but Isderf recently spent a week in Costa Rica. Now, he says that they were working, but I'm not sure how much work actually got done.

As can be seen on this video...

Isderf is the red-head in jean shorts, his boss is the guy in front with the black shirt. This is a momentous event, as not many have ever seen Isderf dance - family only while playing Just Dance on the Wii with his daughter!

And this doesn't look like work!

Although, he seemed to have lots of fun and brought us back some nice souvenirs! Next time we get to go too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

EVERYTHING has a use... or so he says.

In light of the fact that it's been a while since I've blogged and we lost all our apple cider press pictures for that blog... I've decided to post something I wrote in 2007. I've edited it a bit, but it's still pure Isderf... enjoy.


Recently, I had the joyful experience of having my husband home for an extended period of time. Do to a holiday shut-down at work and some oral surgery, he was home for almost two weeks.

I used this time to finish many projects that had been sitting around half done, as I now had someone to keep the little people (aka my children) from helping. Not that I don’t appreciate help, but little people help equals twice as much work.

One of these projects included cleaning out under the bathroom sink. I’m sure some of you have a project similar to this. A spot where all the extras go, everything piles up, and it’s easier to just buy another than to brave the depths and risk losing a hand.

Unfortunately, I made a grave error. My thinking was that my husband would keep the little people away until nap and then he could help. You’d think that after knowing him for 12 years, I would have known better. (It's been almost 17 years now and I still make mistakes like this!)

Armed with a garbage can and the clear intent of throwing away anything that had not been used in the last year, I started pulling everything out from under the sink. I had make-up from junior high and samples of everything from bad perfume to bathroom wipes. Checking expiration dates and chucking anything else that I hadn’t laid eyes on in a while, I was on a roll. Then, my husband walks in.

He calmly sits down next to me and politely asks if I’d like any help. Just when I thought everything would go well, he reaches into the garbage can and starts pulling things out.

First, he finds a small pump lotion dispenser. As he digs for the bottle that matches, he quietly asks himself how much the pump dispenses and if it would be enough to actually measure and, of course, if he had the means to measure it. (I didn’t know what he wanted that dispenser for until he read this article, he wanted to use it to try wool carding – one of his many hobbies that he’s thinking about starting.)

At this point, I’m frantically hiding things and trying to finish up my project without transferring all the offending items straight to my husband’s horde of things he may use.

Then, he spied a sample envelope containing fake suntanning lotion. His eyes got big and he made the appropriate “ooohhhhh” sounds. Before I could stop him, he had the envelope torn open and was squirting lotion up his arm. He rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed. The stuff wasn’t going away and he had quite a mess. At that time, he decided that he should probably read the directions. The directions stated that the user should rub the lotion in until the white vanishing cream disappears.

My confused husband looked at me and said, “Vanishing cream?”

He had neglected to tear the package completely open and only one of the enclosed lotions had come out. So he remedied the situation and was rubbing more lotion on his arms.

I should probably take the time to tell you that my husband is white. Not just Caucasian, he’s WHITE. As in, put on your sunglasses before you see him in shorts, white.

Well, thank goodness for either old (expired in 2001) lotion or not reading the directions, because my husbands arm remained close to its original color, just dirtier. Although I’m sure he would have come up with some appropriate response had it turned 10 shades darker than the rest of him. He’d probably tell people that he’d been injected with Native American DNA and was just waiting for it to spread throughout!

About that time, the phone rang and I was left to quickly throw everything else back under the sink and make a quick trip to the garbage outside. I guess I’ll have to wait for another time to clean out all the hidden treasures under my sink. Probably some time when my husband is at work and my kids are grown. I wonder what I’ll find then and what I’ll have to worry about Isderf trying out next!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Isderf's New Do

**Just a warning: there is a bit of bad language in the last paragraph. If you don't like, then you should probably skip it.**

For those of you who work with Isderf, you'll notice that he's sporting a new hair-do lately. Now, you're all probably wondering why I haven't blogged about this new do. First of all, it only happened on Thursday night and second, his sense of humor was absent shortly after the need for that new haircut. Even as the love-of-his-life and the bearer-of-his-children, I'm only allowed so much leeway around that sense of humor. So to keep the peace, I did not get a before and after picture and I kept my mouth shut - mainly to keep the giggles from escaping.

As he's mentioned that a few of you thought his story dubious and thought he'd come up with it as an excuse for shaving his head, I'm here to tell you how it went.

First, Isderf has a new-to-him 1977 Chevy pickup that needs a little fixing up. Now he's a computer geek, not a mechanic, so he's learning as he goes. He had to fix the fuel switch so that we'd have the use of both tanks (a must when it only gets 6 miles to the gallon) and shortly after, it stopped working. Through some fiddling and playing around, he believes it's bad gas and so he has the air filter off playing with the fuel input to rev it and burn off those impurities. Problem is, it keeps backfiring, which causes a little flare of fire to erupt from the carburetor area. Up to this point, they'd been small and just enough to stall the truck. Until he gets his face down there to watch how everything is working, then Murphy's Law kicks in and he got a new hair-do.

He was lucky, he flinched and his eyes closed right before the flare up, but it was close and the neighbor and I both grabbed him to survey the damage. It didn't appear that he'd burned any skin, but his eyebrows, eyelashes and the hair down the center of his head were curled up and singed pretty good. The smell of fuel and burning hair was enough for me to make him go and douse his head in the sink to stop the smoldering.

So shortly after the incident, and after he'd gotten the truck running again, he decided he'd smell better if he just shaved it all off. So the clippers came out and the hair went. As his eyebrows were mostly gone too, they got clipped also. Then the shears came out and his eyelashes got trimmed.

The kids and I had a great evening occasionally rubbing his bald head and trying to decide what he looked like. It goes back and forth, sometimes he looks like a thug and a skin head, others he looks like he's just gotten through chemo - especially after a night of drinking!

Incidentally, after an evening of drinking, his conversational skills drop completely although the quantity of words increase. He decided he looked "stupid" with his new hair-do and that his feet are tiny - or maybe that's because they're so far away. He then proceeded to list all the types of scotch that he's had and give an opinion on them all. As I know he only had 4 glasses, I'm not sure where all the names came from and I'm pretty sure that 'Glen-Fuckit and Shit' isn't a real type, or at least not a type I'd try. Oh and Paul, for future reference, I was told that Booker fucking sucks - a good dozen times.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Life

I know there are many of you that enjoying seeing Isderf's various projects and how he gets into trouble, but very few realize how it is to LIVE with his stunts day in and day out. I love him lots, but sometimes it is very tiring. Whenever he starts something new and I roll my eyes at him and comment on other people lives, he usually says something along the line of "Other people WISH they were half as cool as me." Sometimes, I wish he was only HALF as cool as HE is.

Then the kids get into the mix and they're JUST like him. In the words of TriPod's Scod, "It's like being trapped in an elevator with Fonzie and Gollum," except we have the three stooges.

So we were driving home the other day and my daughter was making plans to ride her bike up and down the sidewalk before bedtime, and she was trying to convince my son to join her.

"N, do you want to ride your bike up and down the hill with me?"

"No." He continues to play his leapster and then Isderf gets involved

"How about riding J's scooter."

"No," with a sigh that indicates he'd rather they leave him alone.

And in true Isderf fashion, he ups the stakes. "How about chasing her up and down the hill....with a bat?"

That has his attention, he starts giggling, "Yah!"

Any normal family would have kids yelling 'no' and for their mom... not ours. J thinks about this for a moment and replies, "Okay, but I get a head start." Then she pauses again and clarifies, "And as long as it isn't a metal bat." Good thing she has her standards.

And I pipe up, "Officer, I promise that she was okay with it when it started."

Isderf just reaches over and pats my knee, "We'll just tell them that she wanted to be able to go faster and we were providing the incentive to do so."

Conversations like this happen every day around my house. So to those of you that get a kick out my blogs about Isderf, enjoy your quiet lives and thank God you only have to read about it!

Speaking of such, Brent, Isderf was very disappointed that you didn't save the lard from your pigs. He couldn't believe that you didn't want to do all the cool and amazing projects that can be done with it. And if you keep filling his head with more ideas, I might make sure your wife is aware of the fact that soap and candling making can be done in the luxury of your own home!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Egress Windows

According to most residential construction codes, a room must have two exits before it's considered in the room count. If you buy a home with a conventional loan, that really doesn't matter. But if you buy, or sell, a home through any government type loans - VA, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, etc - they have some rules about emergency egress from rooms and insulation, etc. Now, of course, a door counts as an exit, but windows only count if they are a certain size. They have to be big enough for a man to get through from either side and must have so much clearance on both sides. I'm not going to get into the measurements and such, because that can change depending on where you live, but I'm going to talk about our Egress Window Project.

Now, Isderf and I have been saving our money for a while to do this, since it would cost about $6000 to do it. We did look into doing it ourselves, but by the time we payed for the contractors and dealt with them and then spent the extra time to actually do that project - I felt we were safer just paying someone as I wanted it done before Christmas (see the last blog re: patio). Turns out, I should have just hired out the parts separate, as I ended up acting as the general contractor anyways.

First I want to say, I've dealt with this company in the past and they've been great. My grandparents used them, my other grandmother used them, my neighbors across the street used them, and we used them when we replaced some of our front windows. Turns out, having someone install windows is very different from having them act as a general contractor to have construction done before they install more windows. So having said that, I am not going to give the name of this company. Yes, I was really upset with how they dealt with things and yes it stressed me out a lot, but having given myself time to cool down before I wrote this blog I feel that they still did a great job of installing windows, it was before the installation that we had problems.

Isderf met with the manager of this company while I was still popping my meds, the beginning of May, so I played no part in that. I didn't think it would help to have my input as it was a great possibility that it would have nothing to do with windows at all. They told us it would be about six to eight weeks before they could start and that the project would take about three days.

Around the first of July we started getting phone calls to arrange the installation, so we cleaned out the two bedrooms and pulled back our carpets. The Dig Line was called and my front yard was sprayed with colorful marks all over the place.

The first day, the cement cutters arrived. They would do just about everything, but the windows themselves. They started digging and digging - oh did I mention, that week hit the triple digits and stayed there for a few days and we didn't have A/C.

The guys had only been digging for a few hours when they knocked on my door. Turns out, the gas line wasn't out as far as we thought. Good news, they didn't break it. Bad news, it was in the way of our window well. So now, instead of the cement cutters calling the people who hired them, I'm on the phone back and forth trying to figure out how to deal with this. Should we do a different window? Should we just do one window and come back later for the other or reimburse the cost of one and deal with it much later? It's eventually decided that I'll try Intermountain Gas to see if they can just move the pipe and the cement cutters will start digging the other hole. After a few hours, the rep from the gas company shows up and gives me more news; good, it'll only cost $215 to move it, bad, can't move it until Monday next. Our windows are supposed to be installed and done on Friday!

Our whole project went like this. We had a digger go home after hurting his back. Another had to go home to get his sick child. They refused to dig around the exposed pipe line, so Isderf did it instead.

When they started cutting the cement they determined that part of wood was actually attached to the cement they needed to remove, so everything had to stop and wait for the window guys to come back and determine where it could be cut and someone was always bringing me more news so that I had to call the windows guys again.

Three days later, I had one hole in the wall and no windows. It was determined that they'd wait until the gas line was fixed on Monday, come back that day to finish digging the other hole and then install both windows at once. I was confused, it took them almost three days to dig one well, how were they going to do it in one day?

So Monday dawns and the gas company does their job, which is a harrowing experience in itself. Everyone else in the world is taught to remove themselves from areas that smell like gas and to prevent any type of ignition. Not so with those who actually deal with it. My children were in the basement and it was smelling quite strong there, so I brought them up and ventured outside to tell them about it. Turns out, they don't cut the gas from the main line to the house, they just cut the line and then used a pressure screw of some sort to block it. This releases a lot of gas into the area, which doesn't seem to bother the guy 20 feet away striking his torch to weld some pieces for the move. I decided that the kids and I would just stay outside until they were done.

After about 2 hours our diggers were digging again. And again they come to my door, turns out, we have a gas leak now. You know how you call and get put on hold and wait forever to get answers, doesn't happen when you call with a gas leak. Within one hour, I had three gas company vehicles in the area with workers and the construction manager guys standing around. So now our diggers are, once again, waiting.

We finally got the pipe leak fixed, the windows dug out, and now we had to wait again. This time we waited for hours for the window guys to come back and mark exactly where they wanted the window cut. Then, while knocking out the block of cement, they missed and hit the inside wall.

The one good thing about the installation, once they actually started on the windows, it only took about 3 hours and they only bothered me when they were done, to ask how I liked it - but that wasn't until we'd had workers at our house for seven days and a weekend with boarded up holes.

This project was jinxed and I was never so happy as when the window installation was finished. I was ready to call the whole thing off. Although most of the problems could not be blamed on anyone but bad luck, the lack of communication between the contractors and the installation company sucked, big time. I spent so much time on the phone, that the secretary of the manager at the window company finally just gave me his cell phone number - which I'm sure he was happy about.

Even with it all done, we waited for about a week before we called to ask if they were going to put gravel in the bottom of one of the windows. We also ended up with a bit of sink hole around one of the window wells. On top of all of this, we had to wait 4 weeks to get our window well covers and ladders.

It's now done and I've even gotten the trim painted and the windows nice and clean. I know it's important and will give us peace of mind when the kids move into the basement bedrooms, but geez the whole process sucked and I went through most of a case of Mike's Hard Lemonade in that two week period.