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Monday, November 18, 2019

Back to Real Time - Ceramic Tile and Snowflakes

Guess what? No more catch up blogs of the she shed work!

We are finally back in real time. Now by the end of this blog, we have caught up all of the work that we have been doing on the she shed.

The last project left to finish is the tiling of the entryway floor.  It's a 4x12 space leading into the main area which has the gray plank flooring all finished.  We wanted this entrance in something more waterproof, so we decided on ceramic tile.

A previous trip to the ReStore had netted us this wonderful bargain of some beautiful ceramic tile. The tiles are very compatible with the gray plank flooring we put in. We needed 48 twelve inch tiles to do the foyer area. We were able to buy 5 boxes of 11 tiles ....  which was 55 tiles for $.30 each. The tiles have been patiently waiting in the garage until we were ready to start the entryway floor.

The first step that Steve had to do was 
to prep the old garage floor cement.

The cement floor is slightly sloped so we need to use a product to level the floor. We bought three 50 lb bags of TEC EZ level premium self-leveling underlayment.

First there is a special primer product that you brush onto the cement area so the floor leveling compound will bond to it. He rolled that onto the old cement with a thick roller.

Then he added a thick piece of subfloor to one portion of the floor on the right side. This is the portion that slopes down hill the most. He was just trying to take up space so we would use less floor leveling compound in that area.  He doused that subfloor good with the primer. That he had to let it dry before he could move on to the next step.

With a special mixing wand on the end of his drill, he was able to mix up this floor leveling compound to a thick gloppy watery mud. Bucket by bucket, he mixed it up and poured it into the recessed area of the entryway floor.

The leveling compound mud seeks its own level. Bucket after bucket, he would pour it on and each time it would ooze out a little more to fill in the next area.

He helped spread a little bit 
over the wood to get it even.

A few more buckets over the top of this and soon it would be level and set to dry overnight. That is the hardest part, having to wait overnight for it to dry.

The next morning 
everything was dry 
and ready for 
the next layer of subfloor.

Steve had it all figured out.

The next layer was going to be OSB subfloor board which was 7/16" thick. The subflooring would bring it right up to the level we needed. The remaining depth would be taken up by the thickness of the mortar and ceramic tile. Then it would be even and straight and level across from our gray plank flooring.

He glued and  screwed down the subfloor tightly through the newly leveled area. This was done to avoid any shifting or movement that could dislodge any of the tiles or grout.

It was finally time to start laying the tiles. Steve mixed up the mortar a small batch at a time. He worked it and worked it by hand with the trowel until it was perfectly smooth. He needed it to be a thick consistency similar to frosting for a cake.

This is kind of a one-man operation from now here on in, because of the narrow work space area. I ran back and forth with rinsing out rags or bringing more water or helping with the cleanup. But this is mainly now "one guy only" in the four foot wide area.

He spread the mortar out enough to do the first eight tiles. Then on the back of each tile he did what is called "back buttering". That means he smears more of the mortar on the back of the tile and then dragging the notched trowel across it to make the little ridges.

In the pic below, he is carefully setting the first tile into place. He has to make sure it is lined up with the gray planks and square to the door. This is the most important piece. It sets the rest of the gridwork of tiles to line up with the plank flooring on one side, the french window on the other, and the threshold straight ahead.

Each additional piece gets back buttered and laid into place. He has little white plastic spacers to make sure the 1/16" gap is evenly spaced between every tile.  Later we will grout it with a darker unsanded grout to go in the gaps and seal the tiles.

Working on his knees like this is pretty tough on Steve. Over the years he has had torn the meniscus in both of his knees and has had each one surgically scoped to clean up the damage. He was using some contractor quality kneeling pads. He also has a double layer of foam gardening cushions to use if he wants. But his knees still hurt doing this much moving around on them.

He worked a section at a time and then quit for the day. Here are the first 12 tiles, neat as a pin, and once they dry, he will go on to the next section.

If you have been reading this blog at all for any length of time, you would know that he just couldn't sit and look at those tiles drying and not get up and do another section!!  I thought he was going to take a break and wait a day. Nope, not him.

24 tiles done ---
this is the halfway point!!!

This time he finally decided to take a break and let that much dry overnight. His knees were killing him!!!  And believe it or not, he went a WHOLE DAY without doing any more tiles!  He was suffering from some nasal congestion and feeling punky and under the weather. I doused him with chicken soup, made him take a steamy shower, take a long nap, and then go to bed early.


Now we are done catching up the blog. 
We are to TODAY!!!!


Today, even though he was still feeling really crappy with some sinus stuff going on, he decided to mix up another batch of mortar and work some more tiles. He got this far, and he is going to take a break and said he will rest for the remainder of the day. We will be needing to go rent a tile cutter for the last four tiles anyhow.

Surprisingly, took a break and rested for the afternoon. I was leaving to go to my Homemakers meeting so it was good for him to rest. Although, I was almost worried that when I got home he would have finished up the last few tiles... He didn't.  

He is learning that now he is retired, some things can wait till tomorrow. 


Now on to something I was working on
while he was busy with the tiles.

Here is a project that I worked on with some of the grandkids last week. I saw this on Facebook and somebody posted the link to YouTube.  I was intrigued and wanted to try to make one. 

I trotted off to the Dollartree store and bought some packs of hangers. You need 16 hangers, but they come 7 to a pack. So you need three packs.  I already had the wire ties.

That is all you need for this project.

Well, not quite. You need a couple grandkids. Because they were really helpful. So I guess three grandkids were needed to complete this project...

The littlest one, Claire, who is 3, went right to work. After watching the YouTube, she totally understood the concept and was very eager to put this snowflake together!

The two older kids, Chelsea and Clayton, understood the concept of the wire ties, figuring which end you needed to push through which side of the little square box to make it "zip" and not slip free.

As the lady suggested on the YouTube video, we left the star as loose as possible while we were assembling it. That's a good hint, do not tighten the wire ties up snug until you are sure you have everything assembled correctly.

Tah Dah!!!!

Three little munchkins and one big snowflake. Quite the accomplishment. It probably took them 20 minutes to half an hour to make it.

The lady on the YouTube video said you can spray paint them various colors. You can also dab them with thick modge podge and sprinkle large flake glitter on them too. She also suggested putting a little store-bought flat snowflake ornament in the center by using a glue gun.

I think I like them white. I am not sure. Maybe I will do them with red glitter later?

For now, I hung the first one  out on the front porch.  I liked it so much I went back and bought some more hangers to make two more.

The only problem with the Dollartree hangers is that there's excess plastic at the far ends of the hangers. Through trial and error, I found that if we drilled a hole through the plastic end of the hanger, we could thread extra wire ties back and forth through them around the center of the snowflake. It held it more sturdy and firm. I think other styles or brands of hangers wouldn't have this problem because they don't have that excess solid plastic area.

My friend Linda Baldwin had also made some out of children's clothes hangers that makes a smaller snowflake. These full size hanger snowflakes are pretty big in diameter. These came out to be three feet across from point to point. I have three hanging on the front porch now, maybe I will glitter them up, maybe make some more?  

Tomorrow I will talk a little bit more about 
Christmas decorating outside of the house...

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Stairway To Heaven

We are almost to the end of the blog posts on the transformation from the attached garage and mud room into my she shed.

This post has to do with the stairs. The original stairs were quite rugged and worn. They were not spaced correctly for the the riser height or for tread length to correctly fill the span. The top step and the bottom step had huge unexpected drops (and were dangerous).

Steve re-measured, recalculated and made new stringers and built new stairs. The stairs have been in place for a couple weeks but we knew we needed to get railings up to comply with code, as well as to be safe when the little ones were over.

After scribbling a few ideas on paper, we decided we would put not only one railing along the outside of the staircase, but we would also add another railing along the white wall side. Not only is it a bit safer, but it may encourage the grubby handprints of children to stay on the railing instead of being dragged up and down on the white plaster wall! Lol...

We bought some nice heavy duty silver railing mounts and a 12 ft length of unfinished handrail.

I gave the railing a couple good coats of grey oil enamel paint, to match the stair treads. We cut it in half so we would have two 6 foot long pieces. Steve mounted the one on the wall first.  It came out perfect.  Then he worked with mounting the big 4x4 end post, securely attaching it to the stairs.

Then he made up side slats that could make a good sturdily constructed railing.  Getting the angles cut to meet with the walls was a bit tricky, but we figured it out together.

He added a middle slat for little kids hands to grab onto. We informed Whitney and Claire that that middle railing was made "just for them" by Grandpa.

Underneath the stairs is the cutest little Cubby Hole. 

I mentioned in yesterday's blog that when I was a child growing up, we had a cubby hole under our stairs. It was a great place to hide and play. My mom also stored her sewing machine in there. Plus we hung up our snowmobile suits and had a big box of mittens and hats near the entrance. It was larger than this cubby hole, I still have fond memories of crawling in there to hide behind all of the things. Like a secret getaway hideout.

While we were working on the stairs, the dogs thought the Cubby Hole was a cool spot to hang out.

I put an extra doggy bed to put under there and thought it would become their own cute little hangout spot.

But once we moved the comfy porch furniture into the she shed, they gave up the cubby hole and decided that they would prefer to spend their time in comfort on the cushions.

The grandkids, 
on the other hand, 
think it's just the greatest place ever!

We put down an old southwestern saddle blanket and a couple big hunks of comfy sheepskins. Toss in a few pillows and they are all set. We gave the grandkids a couple of flashlights and let them go in there and read books, giggle and play!

Who? Us? 

We need cookies PLEASE! 

Reading Stories 

Even some time on Grandma's Tablets

So the stairs are complete, and they are truly my Stairway To Heaven each time I walk down them into my wonderful She Shed!


One of the other projects we did this last month that really wasn't in the she shed, but it did involve the ReStore. So I thought I'd write about it here:

Early in the summer I bought a cute little light fixture for the front porch while we were shopping at the ReStore. I gave it a fresh coat of red paint so it matched the shutters. Grandson Jameson helped to mount it up on the front porch. It was so cute and adorable and I just loved it.

Fast forward 2 months later and we go walking into the ReStore. We've gotten friendly with the lady who is usually there and she said "Look what I have for you!"  There were THREE more light fixtures that matched that original one we bought for the one on the front porch!! These three were larger in size, but they matched the exact same style and make as the first one we bought 2 months before.

Someone donated them at two different times, and we were fortunate to be there both times on the very day they came into the store!

Wow, they were absolutely perfect! We had just been talking about wanting to add some exterior lights to the garage. The garage was newly built last year by the sellers, but they never got around to installing any exterior lights.

We snatched up all three lights and took them home. I gave them all a fresh coat of paint because they were a funny dusty rose mauve color.

TicTacToe  3 in a row! 

Steve wired up the lights so the two front ones would go on simultaneously with a 180 ° motion detector if anyone comes in the front or from either side.

Aww those are just so stinkin cute! 

At the same time, the ReStore also had this decorative vent piece to go up on the gable of the garage. That was faded out hunter green. So again, with my handy little red paint brush, I made that match too.

The third light fixture was put on the side of the garage by the passageway door. In that one we put a screw in motion detector light bulb that would go on any time we opened either door. The detector is built right into the bulb!  So when coming from the garage or from the she shed, it turns on to  automatically illuminate the walkway between the two buildings.

Now the garage has a little more stylish pizzaz that matches the house, and new usable lights that make our yard safer to maneuver after dark.

This is just about it for the She Shed posts...

We are just laying the ceramic tiles in the entryway and are about 2/3 of the way done.  Steve is suffering from a sinus thing today, and I am not quite up to snuff either. So we laid low, watched football and I did some weaving and made some cool snowflakes from dollar store hangers.  Will post more about those tomorrow. Stay tuned! 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

More Finishing Touches - Car siding (we are not siding our car!)

We are almost caught up with the posts about our She Shed construction over October and into November now.

The next project we tackled was finishing the ceiling in the entryway which is a 4 foot by 12 foot area. I was trying to recreate the feeling of the front porch that we had at our home in Chilton. That enclosed porch actually had a painted white beadboard ceiling.  We decided to go a little bit wider and more substantial than beadboard and use a different product.

Car siding is a tongue and groove board that is already sanded to a nice smooth finish.  It has notches and tongues on the edges so it can fit together nicely. The smooth exposed surface of the board also has a long center notch all of the way along the length to give it the effect of being two boards notched together. Even though it's one big board 7 inches wide.

We purchased enough car siding to do the entire ceiling in the entryway, and to wrap the large beam and also the two side vertical supports.

I put two coats of paint on every board in advance on the saw horses set out in front of the garage. Then they were ready to be cut and nailed into place.  All of these boards are 12 ft long and a little easier to handle with one of us on each end.

Working overhead is never easy, but at least this was only 8 feet high instead of 11 feet high at the other end of the room. The entryway ceiling space is already insulated and stapled over with a layer of tyvek house wrap.

We put board by board up on the ceiling with careful measuring to get a tight fit at the edges. Then we didn't need to finish the edges where the ends met the walls. Steve nailed them on with the air nail gun. I was holding them at one end and he was working his way across to tack them into place.  Some of the boards were slightly warped and we had to really pull them into place.

It was very pleasing and satisfying 
to see each board go up and cover the rafters.

The entryway was feeling BIGGER and BIGGER
as we worked our way across it.

That went really quick and we got it done in about a hour.  It was instant gratification to see it all smooth and pretty and finished!


If you look way back in my blog in June, we added this big thick beam to the ceiling to help support the slight sag in the roof. Steve made a temporary wall to hold up the roof during the process. (remember this was back in June, not recently, so you can see just what we had to start with --- four yucky walls and ceiling and floor!)

Our son-in-law Waylen's father Gaylen was here visiting from Oklahoma. He just happened to stop by at the exact time that Steve needed help pounding this huge beam into place on top of both of the side supports.  This beam just barely fit in after getting pounded over and over multiple times with those big hammers.  He was able to take down the temporary wall and the beam now held the roof straight and level again, no more sag!

The beam might have been a little overkill for the specs needed to comply to code. (Grin Grin) When the building inspector was here, he said it was a fine job. He wanted to know if Steve could be hired to come and do projects at his own house!

Although we could have maybe just sanded out all the hammer marks and painted the beam white, we preferred to give it a more finished look. We decided to wrap the beam around with these tongue and groove car siding boards too.

The beam was actually three pieces of 2 x 12's screwed tightly together to create the proper thickness. Then in the photo you can see the pieces of tongue and groove on each side of that!

Just putting up the first board made a difference along the beam. We were able to snug it nice and tight to the plaster ceiling without any gaps. It's kind of hard to figure out how to trim it out if there had been gaps. I am glad that the beam was nice and straight and even, which made it easier to attach these car siding boards.

Once we had the entire beam wrapped around on all three sides, now we could cover the up-and-down support boards too. Everything was looking neater and cleaner. Not so much like a construction zone anymore.

A very handy little tool we found to use on projects is called an oscillating tool. You can get a variety of different sized and shaped blades that can help out in almost any situation. Here one board was a little longer than the rest after we already had it nailed into place. Probably my mistake of measuring and not remembering the number when it came time to go out to the garage to the cut off saw. Probably my mixing up 3/8 and 5/8. It looks to be off by 1/4 of an inch. The board was already nailed up so we could use this little oscillating tool to cut off the excess. Easy peasy!

Steve carefully ran a bead of caulk along the up-and-down cracks between the boards. Then as they are nailed into place you don't see the little crack or gap on the corner pieces of wood where they lap over each other. Once it is smoothed out and painted over, everything looks well finished and put together.

I like how the top beam boards lap over the up and down boards. Kind of makes a big picture frame around the entryway.  We added a little strip of wood along the side of wall to complete the look.  I had to paint that one board while up on the wall, because it was a last minute addition and not pre-painted like I had done to all of the other boards.  I really like painting the boards in advance, much easier than painting once they are nailed up on the walls.

Steve finished off the trim around the entry door too, and soon we were ready for my final touch-up painting.  Once all of those nails were in place, I put tiny dabs of spackling in each hole before giving a final coat of paint. The paint was needed to kind of cover-up the spackling, and all of our finger marks and hand hold marks from putting the boards up into place.

The room is looking more and more finished.

The only things we have left to complete at this point of the story, were the railings on the stairs and the ceramic tile by the 4 foot by 12 foot entryway.  The railings are now complete as I type this, and the 2/3 of the ceramic tiles were laid today.  So tomorrow I will be able to blog about both of those.

Then my blog will be all caught up and I can get back to regular posting of our day-to-day activities, as well as some pictures of the entire finished room.

P.S. Thank you for all your kind thoughts and prayers for my nephew.  He is still in the ICU, but off the ventilator and out of the medically induced coma.  He is now able to breathe on his own. He had some kind of anaphylactic reaction and they don't know what caused it. He is so far away in Illinois, but his parents are by his side. We are waiting for updates.