Feathered Ice

Of all the photos I got the other day, this is probably one of the best at the almost fully frozen stage. Almost all of the ones I took started to get too blurry by that point because of the transparency of the bubbles and the angle I was at.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing all the different types of patterning that these display.

A Conversation About An Unexpected Turn

The wonderful Leslie over at Praying for Eyebrows interviewed me about my book, An Unexpected Turn. She did a phenomenal job of taking something that was intimidating and kind of stressful for me and turning into something fun. And she made me look way more like I know what the hell I’m doing than I feel on most days in the process.

Show her a little love on this Valentine’s day by visiting her blog and saying “Hi!” Oh! And she also recently published her own first book, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Express, so go an check that out as well.

Frozen Soap Bubble

Yesterday’s attempt at getting some frozen bubble shots was pretty successful and I learned a few new things.

One of the bigger things is that I really need to be wearing my reading glasses when I’m taking photos anymore. I struggle more and more often to see if I’m actually in focus or I have to rely on the autofocus, which doesn’t always give me what I want. This is especially true if I’m using my viewing screen to frame my shot. Wearing glasses is still a long way from perfect or even from where I used to be, but it gets me a whole lot closer than I’ve been getting lately.

When it comes to doing the bubble photos, I’ve also learned that the angle you take these from is critically important and I don’t always get that right. One is the fact that you have to have the light hit it in a way to bring contrast to those crystal structures or you just don’t see them well.

The other issue on angle is the fact that these are transparent and as they freeze, you will get the crystal structures on the back overlapping with the ones on the front, which can make the whole thing look blurry. Many of the ones I tried to take yesterday didn’t look that great once they were fully frozen, but the partially frozen ones looked great. So you have to be at an angle to get the crystal structures to pop, but mainly the ones only on the front side of the bubble, which can be really tricky.

I also learned that I pulled off some of my best images from the videos I tried, but those files aren’t nearly as good a quality as a normal photo, so that is a good and a bad thing.

There are several really good ones I want to share over the next couple of days, but this one is probably one of my favorites (though I do have a few that come close for different reasons). This one is up there because it is one of the best at really showcasing those crystal patterns as they begin to form.

In some ways, I wish we had more days where I could practice, but… nope! It has to be way too cold to play, so I think I’ll be good with the once or twice a year opportunities.

Frozen Bubble Time!

The conditions today were just almost perfect for playing with bubbles. It was just a tiny bit on the breezy side and I had way too many pop before they could fully freeze, but I was still able to get some great shots. I also tried doing a video for the first time.

Hopefully the video works. I think there is an HD option when viewing, but it may show a lower quality so be sure to check if it doesn’t look crisp.

Craft Room Project: I Have A Table!

I got the table put together today! It looks so amazing in the space!

Table Base: Assembled
Table Base: Assembled

I had finished getting the base put together yesterday, but realized I couldn’t attach it to the top because I needed my own screws. I knew that, but somehow forgot about it while I was working on painting and putting together the base. Hubby had some errands to run yesterday evening, so he ran by the store and got the screws I needed so I could finish. It’s frustrating because it only took me about 15 minutes to attach the top, but it is now completely together and I absolutely love it!

Assembled Table
Assembled Table

But, HOLY HELL, that thing is heavy! Even with both Hubby and I flipping it to move it into place, it was difficult. Yikes! I’m really not going to want to move it too often. At least I know it is going to hold up really well.

The top still needs to be stained, but I won’t be doing that until I’m ready to stain all the counters. I have it basically in the space that it will be used so you can kind of see how it will all work together. I’m really glad I opted to go with a table and not a fixed cabinet as it would have really closed off the space and made it feel really claustrophobic.

I still have to work out the specific designs for each cabinet so I can start putting together a materials list. I’ve been kind of dragging my feet on that because I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing there, but I’m at the point where I really can’t procrastinate on that part anymore.

But, I have a table!! Have I said I adore my table?

Snow Coated

I really should be getting outside to try for more frozen bubble shots, but I’m not sure that is going to happen today.

As is typical for me, cake mode is followed by crash mode and my energy and motivation levels are near zero today. The one thing I’d like to try and get done is to get the table base screwed together. My bits showed up the other day and I’ve been wanting to get to this, but cake got in the way.

After that, I have no clue if I’ll have the motivation to do much else, let alone bundle up to go out in the cold. That and it is looking a bit too breezy for bubbles today so I don’t know that it would even be worth the effort.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a burst of energy this afternoon and get out anyway. We are still going to be seeing single digit temps for a few more days, so I have time to get back to the bubbles even if I don’t get to it today.

Cake Theme: Animal Crossing

Cake is DONE!

And I’m so tired, I could hardly be bothered to get decent photos.

I had a few issues, mainly that the icing I used, my caramel cream cheese, is one I’ve never tried to use in decorating. Spoiler, it really isn’t great because it is way too soft. Because of that, the poor house in this looks like it has been through an earthquake and is ready to slide off the base. I also ran out of time so I had to skip doing some extra detail work I’d planned on doing, so it feels a little incomplete to me.

I had the brilliant idea to use white chocolate truffles for the foundation of the “balls” on the trees. It worked amazingly and they were so much fun to do. I’m definitely going to remember that for later.

I’m mostly pleased with how it all came out. BG is very happy, so that is all that really matters.

I don’t think I’m going to move again for a while. Maybe ever.

Frosted World

I had to brave the bitterly cold temps yesterday to get a couple of much needed things to work on BG’s cake. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to get some photos of the amazing effect the snow was having on the trees, so I drug my camera along with me.

The roads were absolute crap and the drive was very slow, but it was absolutely beautiful. I’m so glad I got out and got the few shots I did as the trees are no longer coated today. The temps are staying at what feels like vaccine storage levels (yes, I know it isn’t REALLY that cold) for several more days and we have a chance of snow every day. It feels like mother nature decided to give us all the winter we hadn’t really gotten so far all at once now.

I’m in full on cake mode today because I have to have this done by tomorrow afternoon. The cake is already baked and the icing is ready to go. I have to make up the fondant and start assembling today. Since I’m down to only being allowed to make this one cake every year, I’m going to have as much fun as possible working on it.

Craft Room Project: Table Base Painted

I got the table base painted and partially assembled today. I realized when I went to actually screw the pieces in place that I needed a really long drill bit, which I didn’t have. It is a good thing I probably wasn’t going to be able to work on this for the next several days because now I have to wait for that to show up before I can finish putting it together.

Table Base: Painted
Table Base: Painted

I also figured out that the dresser I wanted to use in the space and thought I couldn’t is actually going to fit. The plan before was to paint it the creamy white of the cabinets and paint the hardware to match what I pick for the cabinets. Thinking about it today, I decided that I’m still mostly going to do that, but I’m going to take it a step beyond that and refinish the top to match the gray I’m going to use on the counters. I’m so thrilled by the idea because the whole thing is going to look fabulous when it is done.

Dresser To Be Painted
Dresser To Be Painted

With being able to use the dresser and my plans to also use the other cabinet, I now have two big pieces I can reuse in this space. I’m already using the ugly gray cabinet in another area so that really only leaves the crappy desk that my jewelry bench was sitting on and a really wobbly and damaged but beautiful antique table that I don’t know what I’m going to do with.

I really love the table, but it is in pretty bad shape and needs major work. You can actually just see the top edge of it under the new table base in the first photo. The biggest problem it has is that it’s top is split in a way that I’m not certain is fixable. I’ve considered taking it apart and using the pieces for other things but I really cringe at the thought.

I am thrilled that I’m going to be able to make use of at least 2 of the older pieces.

Frozen Bubble In The Snow

This one was the only decent one I managed to grab yesterday. I think the fact that it was snowing is why I struggled to get a decent shot. The snowflakes kept popping the bubbles before they could really start to freeze. That and I wasn’t positioned well to get a good, clear line to see the crystallization on the bubbles. This is one of the few that you could actually see that, but it isn’t as clear as I’ve gotten in the past.

I’m going to try again over the next few days when I have a couple of extra minutes, which may be hard to find. I’ve got a cake to make this week, so my time is going to be packed. My goal is to get the table base at least painted and ready to assemble today, because starting tomorrow, I have to be in cake mode.

The forecast for the next several days is looking like we will have perfect conditions so it’s possible even with my incredibly busy week ahead that I’ll have a several chances to get out and try again.

Craft Room Project: Table Base – First Coat

The initial dry fit on the table base is done, so everything fits the way it is supposed to.

Table Base: Dry Fit
Table Base: Dry Fit

I also managed to get the very little sanding done that was needed (really impressed with everything about this base and the company I got it from) and I’ve got the first coat of paint on.

Table Base: First Coat of Paint
Table Base: First Coat of Paint

So far, it looks like it is covering really well, so it probably won’t need more than another coat and some touch ups. I honestly expected it to take a lot more. I am absolutely loving it all so far. I’ll get the base finished and attached to the top, but the table won’t be completely finished until I stain the top.

I’m waffling on when to do that as I will also have to stain the other counters. One side of me wants to get the top on this stained just to see all the colors in the space at once, but the realistic side of me says I really need to wait and do them all at the same time.

Working on this today just has me giddy. I’m absolutely loving how it is looking. Just seeing the base sitting on the top is exciting even though it isn’t attached or stained yet. I am not regretting losing the cabinet space to the table. The more I think about it and now seeing this, I’m so happy I made that change.

It is going to be so gorgeous!

Craft Room Project: Plans & Table Base

My table base showed up today!

Table Base Pieces
Table Base Pieces

I’ll have to do some light sanding and painting before I can start putting this together, but it is here. It is the first piece I need done before I can start building my cabinets so I can make sure everything is the same finished height. I’m absolutely stunned and how quickly this showed up.

I also finished my new layouts for the cabinets.

Cabinet Layout Plans - 2nd Round
Cabinet Layout Plans – 2nd Round

I have one corner I haven’t decided on for certain as to how I want it to work, but everything else is done.

I actually took the time to color code this so it was easier to tell what was upper cabinet, what was lower cabinet and what was counter top. It is so nice and clean now in comparison to my original drawing. For the most part, the changes are on the small side with little tweaks here and there to make every space work better and more efficiently as well as fitting around the outlets. I think I have it all down to how I want it.

The time it takes to work on the table, which is my next step, will allow me to work through the new changes in my head to make sure everything is how I want it. Then, I’ll have to actually plan out each individual cabinet so I can figure out materials. I have a feeling I’m going to need Hubby in on that to make sure I don’t absolutely botch the math, which is prone to happen.

Craft Room Project: Reworking Cabinet Layout

Between the couple of tweaks I wanted to to make and the tweaks I have been forced to make now that the walls and outlets are all in place, I’ve had to do some changes to the cabinet layout.

I realized that the switches by where my jewelry bench is going are behind where I planned to put a cabinet. I didn’t catch this until the drywall was in and too late really to move. That one is going to be a bit of a bitch to rework. I’m probably going to have to turn the existing box where they are mounted into a junction box and run a new wire so I can put a box on the inside of the cabinet so the switches sit on the side instead of on the back wall. That won’t be fun and I’ll lose a little bit of space where the box will be inside the cabinet, but it is doable.

The overall height of my upper cabinets got dropped by about 5 inches because of the lowered drop along the new wall. I decided to adapt it all the way around the room so that the line stays the same throughout the room. It worked out well because the recessed shelf area sits right in that range as well.

I made a change to the corner shelf unit to make more counter top work space and that ran into a problem with one of my outlets. I think I know what I need to do to solve both of those issues, but I’m still working on getting it drawn out.

I’ve got tape marks on the floor and walls for most everything so that I could confirm what changes needed to be made and what the new measurements are so I can do up a whole new grid to work off of.

I also decided that I’m completely eliminating a cabinet section. I didn’t like how it was looking when I drew it out on the floor. I’m trying to keep things looking and feeling as open as I can and that made things feel really closed off as it was closer to the stairs. Instead, I’m going to take one of the existing cabinets I had in that space and remake the doors to match the new cabinets. With that and painting it the same, it should blend in really well. I also really like that it reuses something I really didn’t know what I was going to do with as I didn’t have a use for it anymore.

One of the things I spent time deciding today was whether or not I need to level the floor. I did a few things to check how off it was and it really isn’t bad at all, so I don’t have to do that. It is such a HUGE relief that I was able to eliminate it.

My table base is supposed to be here today, so that will most likely be the next piece on my to do list along with reworking my grid layout. I’m kind of back to the point of little visible progress, but it is still progress.

Bright Center

Yesterday, I got the new filters installed, which made me happy. It made me even happier that they were the easiest plumbing project I’ve ever done. I had them both in and working in about 20 minutes.

I learned in my research yesterday that I can use the same underlayment I’m going to use for my floor under my cabinets to protect them from any moisture that might seep through the concrete. That means I don’t need an additional material that I don’t already have since I have enough to cover the entire space.

Craft Room Overview Layout
Craft Room Overview Layout

One adjustment to my cabinet plans that I’d been tossing around was to change my plans for the the “L” section that came back into the room (lower 36 x 72 section pictured above). The original plan was to have this built with a base cabinet and counter top like the rest of the space. Since this is in the middle of the room and sits in the open space to the rest of the basement, I was concerned that it might interfere with moving things around either in the basement or in and out of the storage space under the stairs since it narrowed down the space.

I finally decided that the best option is to make that section into a large, moveable work table instead. I’ll lose some cabinet space, but it makes the space a lot more versatile. This way we can move the table out of the way if we need to and open the area up for anything larger to get through the space (like the couch that is currently in the basement).

My concern about doing that was matching the table height to the counter height so that I had a consistent workspace all around. The solution is to get the table built first and then build the cabinets to match that height. I can do that since I’m building these cabinets from scratch and they won’t have to be standard, which they weren’t going to be anyway.

I then also had to actually build a table base. I already have the top, but no real place to start to build the base. If I was going to do a table, I’d want decent looking legs and not just square blocks. I found a place that makes the entire base in a kit form and you can customize it with the kind of legs you want, the measurements of the overhang and the table top size it needs to fit. After a lot of debate over the cost and eliminating any potential options I had here, I decided to go that route and have a base on the way.

It will take a bit to get here, so that gives me time to go through the rest of my plans to see if any other adjustments are going to need to be made. With the problem solved of what I need to do for the cabinets against the concrete and the decision on the table made, that is the last piece I need to resolve before I actually start getting all the wood I need to start building.

That and I still have to decide if I need to do something to level out the concrete before I can do any of those things.

I also have my inspection scheduled for tomorrow morning, so all fingers and toes are getting crossed that I actually pass this time.



Craft Room Project: Change of Plans

I was all ready to at least prep the room for the floor today. I found out last night that the flooring itself needs to really be in the space for 48 hours before it can be installed to acclimate to the room, so I knew I probably wouldn’t get to any actual installing today, but I still needed to get some prep-work done.

I start scraping up the chunks of drywall mud and I’m realizing that the floor really probably isn’t as level as it should be. I go to research whether or not I need to level it before I can start installing the new floor, but that lead to a rabbit hole of a whole other problem that I had no clue about. Apparently, you really aren’t supposed to install cabinets on top of laminate flooring because it prevents it from expanding and contracting as needed.

So, I now have to swap my plans around and start working on the cabinets first, which I really wasn’t quite ready for. I knew I was going to most likely need to make adjustments to my original plans, but I hadn’t started really working on those things. Now I no longer have a choice because the cabinets need to come first.

Now that I realize they can’t be installed on the floor, I have to figure out what I do need to install them on concrete, so that is going to be fun.

This is what happens when you have plans but they aren’t completely fleshed out and you try to fly by the seat of your pants for parts of it. It comes back to bite you in said seat of your pants. Apparently it is now time for a deeper research phase of this project and for my panic about my ability to actually pull of the cabinet builds to settle in.

In the mean time, I have a couple of filters that showed up and need installing, so the craft room is temporarily on hold. I guess I really did need a break.

Craft Room Project: Ready For Floor? Possibly

I finished painting the insides of the doors, the closet, and the railing today, so I should be done with paint for a while. At least until I’m ready to work on the cabinets. Even then, I think I may do most of the painting on those, or at least pieces of those, in the garage.

All the door knobs are on and all the plate and vent covers are in place, so I am ready for them to come back out and reinspect, which was my main target in pushing to get all of these done.

I also realized today that I did something that I really knew better than to do. I taped my already painted walls so that I could paint my trim. There are reasons I don’t tape. Mostly because it can be really messy and ugly if your paint gets under the tape. I thought I could do a good enough job to not need to worry about it and painting over the trim paint to touch up mistakes is a pain, so I opted for tape.

When I took it off today to start my clean up when I thought I was done, I was reminded of ALL the reasons I really don’t like to use tape.

Why You Should Never Tape
Why You Should Never Tape

I had forgotten that if you have any paint on the tape that is really thick, the tape tears and leaves pieces on the wall that are nearly impossible to get off. And, even though this is painters tape that is supposed to be completely safe on painted surfaces, you can still sometimes have it pull off paint. The tape did ALL of those things. On all of my doors.

So I had a whole lot of repairs, clean up, and touch up painting to do today on my already painted walls. Because of course I would!

Honestly, I probably should have just painted the trim before I painted the walls, but, again, I really didn’t want to have to paint over any trim paint with the wall paint, so I did it the other way around. When I paint, I don’t usually have to paint the trim, so I just really wasn’t thinking about the logistics of it all. At least not clearly anyway.

It is all, mostly, touched up now. I have a couple of spots that didn’t completely cover and I’ll need to hit them again, but I’m just going to do that when I have the paint out to finish off the stairs. I’m so done painting for now.

Assuming I don’t do anything else incredibly stupid that delays me even more, I should be good to go to start on my flooring tomorrow.


Carnation In Black & White

Well, we have a nice new working shutoff for our waterline and no filter.

The no filter bothers me as I haven’t used water without a filter (a really heavy duty one no less) for over 22 years when I got a notice from the town I lived in that we had extremely high levels of a pesticide in our water and that we’d had those high levels for over a year. That was when I learned that there are ranges of what is acceptable in your water and times when they have to notify you when those levels are too high and that those points aren’t always soon enough for you to do something about it. Those regulations don’t always make since. I found out about those levels when OC was still a baby and realized I’d been drinking that water while I’d been pregnant and mixing their formula with that water for over a year.

So a filter is a absolute must in my house as I just don’t trust what comes in through my pipes.

The problem is that when we got our whole house filter, they pulled all the things from the water that I was looking for, specifically things like the pesticides. Now, almost all of those don’t work the same anymore. The only ones that really do are the under sink kinds, though I have no idea why there is such a difference. Considering the cost differences between the two, you’d think the whole house filters would do the better job, but that isn’t the case.

I had to do some research on what to get as a replacement as almost all of the under sink filters require their on faucet and my counter in the kitchen can’t handle another faucet. I did finally find one that just connects into the waterlines and goes directly to your existing faucet, but I had to get one for both the hot and the cold.

While those are going to do the job, I’m going to really miss not having to think about where I get the water in the house to drink. Cooking is kind of obvious as I would only ever use the kitchen faucet, but we have a waterline in the fridge too that isn’t being filtered. Our fridge has the filter option, but we don’t have a filter for it as it wasn’t needed. The filters for those aren’t as good as what I’d like, so I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about that one. As of right now, I’ve irritated the hell out of Hubby as I’ve locked out the water option forcing him to use the filter pitcher I got for MC to take to the dorm with him, but have temporarily stolen back.

My new filters won’t be here for another day or two and it is so weird having to stop and think about what I’m doing every time I go to use the water. I’m going to really miss the whole house filter, but it will also be nice to not have to worry about a repeat with another unit in the basement.