Archive for the ‘The House’ Category

Apr 20

It has been a long time since I posted here last (I slipped the piano post in yesterday), I plead guilty of allowing life to get in the way.

The truck has been sitting in the garage waiting for warmer weather.  I have stayed busy with things around the house, I went out to the garage a few weeks ago and spent some time trying to get organized and clearing space so once warm weather hits I can get moving on it again.

I did have a realization that the first thing I will have to do in the near future, is going to be put in at least one new garage door.  We have a 2 car garage with 2 doors.  For years the far side was blocked off, the opener didn’t work, so I screwed the door to the wall to seal it closed.  When we brought the truck home, I moved the woodworking to the far side and didn’t think about it.

This week, while talking through things that I need to do and want to do, I realized that since I can’t get the garage door open, I can’t get a new table saw into the garage, and I can’t get the engine block out of the garage… unless I move the truck.

Since the truck is on jack stands with the wheels removed, that is not likely to happen, so the first thing I have to do is put in a new door on the far side so I can get things in and out and expand the shop out into the drive when I need more space.

The piano is well under way and I will be posting more updates on it as I can.  I’m going to be behind on posting for that, it is going together already and I haven’t put together the photo’s of it coming apart… LOL

The piano

posted by mark
Apr 19

Family legend has it that my grandfather bought my grandmother a piano.  When she got sick he learned how to play it and also an organ.

The piano stayed in their home for many years after my grandmother passed and when my grandfather passed away, it was given to my family.  I was in the military stationed in Wyoming at the time, and the military shipped it for me and it has resided in my home ever since.

Much to my mother’s dismay, she was a piano teacher, I can’t play the piano in spite of years of lessons.  My children didn’t pick it up either, in spite of attempts at lessons.  So the piano has sat in my home, a piece of family history, and as much as I love it, it was never going to be appreciated by being played.  The sounding board is also cracked badly, so would require extensive repairs.

I have thought about doing many things with it over the last few years; a fish tank, a computer cabinet, TV cabinet or a desk.  Nothing ever seemed to click in my head.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my office staring at it, when it clicked.

Mama Bear will tell you, that I do not start projects until I can see the end in my mind.  This time was very different, I have no idea what the end will look like, but I am building my new desk, pictures will follow.

The start of the journey

The start of the journey

Dec 25

When we moved into our home over 15 years ago, the fireplace had a wood burning insert.  But the fans didn’t work and I was leery of using it.

The original fireplace

The original fireplace

Mam Bear loves having a fireplace, so after a while, we found a gas log insert, the kind that doesn’t require venting and we bought it, then hired a local company to run a gas line to it.  Running the gas line cost more than the actual logs… LOL

We used it, but not much.  The kids tended to “own” the living room space, and the way the furniture was arranged did not lend itself to cozy evenings by the fireplace.  Several years ago, once we had stopped trying to use it altogether, I had blocked the fireplace off with some Styrofoam to keep it extra insulated.  I totally rebuilt the mantle to hang a TV above the fireplace when we had all the kids at home.

Yesterday afternoon, while Mama Bear and I were talking about how this was going to be our first Christmas home alone, no kids, no waking at 5 AM to tell them to go back to bed (admittedly that hasn’t happened in years), she made the comment she would love to be able to sit in front of the fireplace.

So I decided to give her an “extra” Christmas present.  I went down to the garage and grabbed some tools, grabbed the vacuum from my office, and headed off to do battle.  It took me about an hour to get everything cleaned up and then find a fresh battery before I could try it out.  But once everything was adjusted and tested, we ended up sitting in front of the fire for a while and relaxing.

I am still learning that time and effort often are the best present I can give, but to my wife I will always give her the best I can.

The new fireplace

The new fireplace

Merry Christmas Mama Bear.

Dec 6

We all seem to have survived the Thanksgiving madhouse.  Mama Bear was of course in her element, I think she had a good day, even weekend, since all the kids and local family were around.

The turkeys turned out pretty good, I even held a little of the smoked bird back and sliced it for sandwiches, love that smoked turkey hit…


Slicing the Turkey

Slicing the Turkey

Smoked Turkey sandwiches to come

Smoked Turkey sandwiches to come

In the post holiday week I also made my normal stock, but this time I did two separate pots, one from the baked turkey and one from the smoked bird.  I have to admit, while the normal stock smelled great, the smoked pot smelled wonderful.  I am soooooo looking forward to what comes from that down the road…

Smoked turkey stock

Smoked turkey stock

I on the other hand am enjoying today so much more.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Thanksgiving, but today we are under winter storm warnings, the snow is falling and I feel like winter is finally back.  I miss winter all summer long, I’m a cold weather kind of bear.

Knowing this storm was coming, I managed to put Mama Bear’s car back in the garage.  I had been working on rearranging some things to try to make it more functional during the winter when the car stays in it most of the time, didn’t quite make it, but at least the car is back in and not in the drive covered with ice and snow… 😀

One of the few downsides to working from home is that days like today, when the schools are all closed and people get told don’t come into work, my commute doesn’t get affected, I’ve still go to go down to my office to go to work, so no playing hooky for me… On the bright side, it is Friday, the weekend is upon us!!!


Oct 13

It seems sad to title a weekend as “surviving”, but then again, day to day life around here stays hectic pretty much every day, so weekend is just another day for a different kind of work.

Mama Bear is pounding into me that I need to focus more on life, and less on working, regardless of the source of the work, so this weekend when mama bear and the wild child headed for our local hippy town crafts festival, I spent yesterday in the garage working on a long overdue project.

I love my smoker, and while I am contemplating a larger one, I will enjoy the one I have as much as I can.  I had a bar stool type chair by it for a while to use as a resting place for trays and tools and what not, but I wanted something with a little better storage options.  So when the wild child was gearing up to build her sculpture pedestal, I had her buy me some supplies.  I actually had her buy more for herself, without her knowledge, because I knew she couldn’t do what she wanted with what she thought she needed to buy, experience has to count for something… LOL

So yesterday I set out to put something together…


My new smoking worktable

My new smoking worktable

I plan on putting a back on it and two doors on the front, but not enough supplies were on hand, so I will need another run to the store…  so sad… 😀

Today, although you can’t really tell in this photo, I am smoking half of the bacon I prepped, the other half will go on tomorrow.  There’s that need a bigger smoker… LOL

But hey, it’s bacon. Today’s bacon, which once I finish smoking it will have to be chilled overnight and then sliced, is a maple (yes real Canadian maple syrup was used) and a spiced bacon.  I admit I am curious about the spiced bacon, it has a touch of sweetness from brown sugar and molasses and a hint of spice from ginger and a few other things.  Since I tried out 4 different recipes I hope we get some real winners out of these batches, we’ll see.

A new chapter in life

posted by mark
Aug 6

The last couple months have been hectic to say the least, but the culmination was this weekend when my son and new daughter-in-law were married.

A beautiful beginning

A beautiful beginning

I am very proud of him, he is stepping into their new life, he has a career in something he has a passion for and they are establishing themselves right from the beginning.  They have their own home and are both happily pursuing their careers, but most of all are happy together.

Then to top it off we had an open house for the oldest’s 30th birthday.  Lots of friends, family and food.  It was a wonderful celebration to continue the weekend.

Of course I had to smoke.  22 pounds, count them twenty-two pounds of beef, went into the smoker.  A nice 15 pound chuck roll in 2 pieces went in at 2 AM Sunday morning (I really should have started it at midnight… LOL) then the brisket went in around 6 AM.  It was a long night with only a few naps in between tending the smoker and moving meat around.

The wild child did Hawaiian burgers and mustard chicken on the grill and we had raw veggies with dipping sauces, corn on the cobs, baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw, along with various other fixings.  The oldest’s fiance’s parents brought wonderful desserts and salads.  It was a great party that lasted all day.

We have had family in from all over the country (and Canada), so we had a full house the whole time and I think a good time was had by all.

I managed to finish the fireplace and I think I got every one of the “little” jobs I either never finished or needed to do except maybe one or two.  And of course the basement still needs to be done, but we made a lot of progress in the last month and the house was admired by all.  Mama Bear says I need to add one more piece of trim that I didn’t plan on since it will make it even on both sides, but I think it looks good.  I’ll post more on that transformation later.

Mama Bear said I cleaned up pretty good for an old bear…  This is a photo I will keep with me.

The family continues

The family continues


Lunchtime quickie…

posted by mark
May 20

Here are the promised follow up shots from dinner last night:

The aftermath...

The aftermath…

It went just a little over medium rare, although in this picture it looks like it went over medium. It had more pink than it looks like here, and it was way juicy, like run off the board multiple times juicy.  And it was goooooood…

Here is a quick shot of the finished but not yet painted bookcase too, just for admiration…

Finished Bookcase

Finished Bookcase


Bookcase Back

Bookcase Back

Skirt Steak on a weekday no less...

Skirt Steak on a weekday no less…

And no, I have not started inhaling again…

a few weeks ago Mama Bear brought home a nicely marbled skirt steak, so I did what any guy in my position would do, I put a nice rub on it and smoked it, on a weekday no less, for dinner.  We enjoyed it much I must say.  The few leftovers there were went well on sandwiches the next day 🙂

Today I spent the day in a mad flurry of yard work, working around the house and smoking a Sirloin Top.  I am finding I really enjoy smoking for roasting, not just the typical smoke something to the point of being able to shred it for pulled whatever.

Today’s smoke was an almost 9 pound sirloin top, it smoked for almost 6 hours and was a really nice medium.  The finish pictures will follow, but here it is sitting after I put on the rub and was prepping the smoker…

Sirloin top waiting to go in

Sirloin top waiting to go in


And on the house front, I finished a project, finally.  The shelves over the entryway are done and just need to be painted.  Painting is not my responsibility, which given my apparent color choices is a good thing I gather… but check that one off, and I was able to make some progress on the fireplace, the frame is up above the mantle, so a little more engineering and I should be able to put the TV up so it is out of the way.

Apr 22

I have a long running battle with my home and water.

From the very beginning of our relationship with this house, I have fought with the plumbing.  Nothing drastic, we’ve never woken up to the basement flooded or been without water for days on end.  But it seems with every remodel project that comes close to some sort of plumbing I spend long hours to get it straight, on the other hand at least I enjoy the work, mostly.

Last weekend, on Sunday evening of course, the sink in the kitchen developed a leak.  The wild child noticed water running across the floor and it led to under the sink.  Some investigation led me to think the fittings had worked loose, but further investigation led to one of the trap pieces having corroded through.  I had to run to Lowes, so off I went.  I got there, thought through what I needed and pieced it together in my head and pulled the parts and came home.  15 minutes under the sink made me realize that the parts I had weren’t going to do it, one of the drain pieces was a sweated fitting, I couldn’t take it off.

So I grabbed what I didn’t need and the baby bear wanted to ride along and off we went back to Lowes, only to discover they close at 8 on a Sunday, not 9 like I thought…  Since we were already out I thought Home Depot is open to 9, I was sure… Nope.

So on the way home we went by my parents house.  Dad spent years as a GC and even though I know he’s been giving away the spare parts trying to regain his garage, I had some hope he might have a few parts left.  Bingo, he had 2 opened trap bags and one tail pipe.

Another half hour under the sink and no more leak…

Drainenstein (you know the Frankenstein of drains)

Drainenstein (you know the Frankenstein of drains)

Working around…

posted by mark
Apr 7

I think until last weekend, in spite of having sever weekends “off”, I hadn’t gone a full day without working.

Getting away last week opened my eyes to just how enmeshed I have become with work.  I have lived with a BlackBerry so long it has become something I can’t leave home without.  So this last week has lead to some soul searching.  I love my job, well for the most part, although there have been some changes lately that have left many of us feeling alienated.

On a better note though, this weekend has been a non-stop whirlwind of project completions.  I finally got all the parts for the entryway light and got it mounted, I finally got the new dryer installed with all new venting, and the wall in the bedroom is done (except for the baseboard where the door was) and the TV and bedroom switched around.