Friday, December 18, 2015

New Shades

Last Christmas my folks gave us some money to purchase shades for our windows, we finally got around to spending some of that money.  We purchased shades for our basement and bedroom, because Menards was having a 51% off sale on Levolor shades.

If you haven't noticed shades are stupid expensive, so we were pretty happy to find these at a decent price.  The only issue is that the middle window is 5 feet wide, so there is quite a bit of weight on the strings.  They have worked fine, but I worry about that a bit.

We ordered 5 shades at 36" wide (60" tall I think) and 2 at 60" wide.  We wish we had ordered for the middle floor as well, since they are working pretty well.  We paid $61 for the 3 footers and just under $100 for the 5 footers, $539.62 all together.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Does this make it a Finished Basement?

I had purchased a ceiling fan for the basement some time ago when it must have been on a good sale.  We have been wiring plugs and some recessed lights in the basement when Nick comes across the ceiling fan.  He wants to put it up, so I say maybe tomorrow we need a bracket for it.

I picked up the bracket on the way home from work and we put that up.  We get the fan out and realize that we can't just mount it to the bracket it needs some drywall up as well.  Nick convinces me to put up a piece of drywall so we can proceed.
Nick did some wiring, Maddie put in the light bulbs and away we went.  We also had to buy a fan controller (light switch), we found one that will just control the fan, however they also had one that will control the fan and the light from the same switch with a dimmer for the light as well.  It was $25 vs $22 for the other.  So this way we can also put a switch in for the hall light as well. :)  A 3-way switch no less.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Creating an Arduino Etch A-Sketch

I ordered some Rotary Encoders for another project and thought I would put together a simple Etch A-Sketch Arduino.  Then I programmed a simple viewer in Processing.  It is really rough, but it works.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Attic Ladder

I purchased an attic ladder for our garage shortly after we built our house.  It has been garage decor since that time.  I finally had a feel weekend a month ago and we decided to put it in.  It actually went in fairly easily, but it does take two people.

You need an opening in your ceiling, then headers on either side of the opening.  The ladder is designed to fit between trusses 24 inches on center.  Then you put up some temporary boards to rest the ladder on.  Finally you secure the ladder, then test the length of the ladder.

Unfortunately, the ladder we purchased was a bit too short, so in order to use it safely you have to put a 4x4 under the end of the stairs.

Time to put in a Pool

We purchased an above ground pool about 2 years ago on clearance at Target.  It is a 20' Intex type pool.  I tried to find someone to level an area for us for a couple weeks with no luck, put would email back, then not show up!  I finally was able to talk with one of our neighbors and he agree to come over and level the area.
 And here is the after.  Unfortunately, it turns out that is was level enough.  We put the pool up and filled it about 2 feet on the low end, which ended up being about 1 foot on the high end.  We played around in it, but decided that we need to take it down and re-level it.

So we took it back down and hopefully Darren (out neighbor) will be able to level it this weekend.  Then we can put it back up this week, since it is going to be hot.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Great Deal from Dakota Electric

 I noticed that Dakota Electric would provide rebates for purchasing CFL or LED lighting.  When Menards had a sale, I bought a bunch to change out the lights in a few areas were we still have incandescent bulbs.

I bought 25 bulbs for $105 (I think, I don't have the receipt anymore) and Dakota Electric credited me $110 (maybe it was $110).  The rebate form said they would refund up to %50 of the bulb cost, but they refunded the entire amount!

So know I have two months without an electric bill!

As you can see out electric usage is down for this month, not sure it can completely be attributed to the lights, but they certainly don't hurt.

I would be interested in hearing how much electric other people are using as well, it would be nice if on the bill they would tell you what percentile you are in as far as usage.

Garden Progress

 With the kids help we installed the gate, it turned out pretty well actually.  I know that it won't stop a determined deer, but given that the yard is surrounded by vegitation I am hoping the efforrt isn't worth it for them...

Some the seed we planted at starting to poke up as well, so that is exciting!  I had to water last night, which was neat as well.  Nick wanted to buy a turtle spinning sprinkler for Jen last year and we finally did when it went on clearance at the end of the year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A farming we will go

Here is our little home on the range.  We tried this last year and didn't get it planted early enough, so the plants had a hard time competing with the weeds (might have been a lack of weeding on our part too...).

This year I ended up planting a bunch of sweet corn, more than I really planned but once I started I just kept going.  So we will hopefully have an abundance of that and enough so that it can pollinate properly.

I ended up with a small parcel, maybe 16 square feet for my beans, peas, lettuce and spinach but if it all works out we can do better space management next year.

The gate is in process, we have frequent deer visitors, so I am hoping that the effort of jumping the fence is off putting enough to keep them out.  We will see.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Things to Note about Syrup

If you make syrup, be sure to clean out your buckets in a timely manner.  I left mine for 2 weeks after buds started to appear, and went to empty them out this weekend.  They smelled terrible and there was a layer of slime on the bottom.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Making Syrup

 The last two years we have been tapping a few box elder trees in our yard and making syrup.  We just use a couple food grade 5 gallon buckets to collect the sap, with plastic tube connectors as taps.

It is amazing how much fluid moves up and down the tree trunks.  Then we just boil off the liquid in a turkey cooker.  We go through a tank of propane to get a quart of syrup, so not the most cost-efficient way of doing it...  But it is still fun.

Once it is boiled off most of the way, we take it inside and finish it off on the stove-top.  You have to boil the syrup until it boil at 7 deg F above the boiling point of water.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My former place of employ

Thanks Tim for setting up this site and going out and taking pictures.  It was a good place to work and I was sad when it closed.  Seems like such a waste.

I have been at Trane for 4 years now (how is that possible!), the closing didn't really affect me negatively, though you never know.  I do miss my short commute, and working on airplanes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My favorite Power Tool

My Father-in-Law purchased a Ridgid cordless drill and saw combo for me a couple years ago (7 I think) and it has been a great tool.  I have framed walls, build decks and drilled holes for wiring with it.  The battery lasts pretty well and has stood the test of time.

The drill that I have is a NiCad, while the new ones are Lithium Ion.  When you buy them from Home Depot they have a lifetime warranty, which I used to replace a battery.  My Father-in-Law used it to replace the whole drill!

The battery that I received in exchange was a Lithium Ion, so when I called to extend the warranty to it they wouldn't let me.  The lady on the phone told me to go back to the store and return it and get a Ni-cad one instead...  I didn't.  My old charger seems to work with it, though I imagine I might be shortening the life of it.  I am planning on getting a new combo when I find a good sale, because I can still use my old batteries with the new kits.

Ridgid is a bit more expensive, but the quality and warranty make it worth it, I think.