Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dog House Renovation

I found a large dog house for free.  Its roof was destroyed by moss and it was a bit chewed up.  I let it sit in our garage for a couple months.  Our dog tragically died.  I let the dog house sit in the garage a little while longer. Finally with the help of my beloved husband I put a new roof on it and made a few other repairs.  I tried to sell it but no one wanted it.  Then I painted it and wala, good as new!  In total we put about $20 and too much time (5 hrs) into it and sold it for $75.  The paint was left over as were most of the roof shingles and a few boards I needed to replace. We just had to buy the plywood, some flashing and a few shingles.  This was not quite but almost worth my time and mainly I am glad to be rid of the dog house we do not need and I'm sure my neighbors are glad it is not in our driveway anymore.

Here are some pictures for anyone who may be interested in building a dog house - hopefully this gives you some ideas.  It is a real sturdy structure that's for sure.  The roof detaches from the body.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Used Couches

It was innocent enough; I was just shopping for some dishes, looking for anything white and pretty at a little second hand shop when I spotted them.  I'd been struggling with what to do about our couch situation for a while.  The ones we had were beyond old and worn out and borderline gross even with couch covers.  We kept talking about selling out, giving up on my dream couches.  I decided that maybe they didn't exist in a way I would be able to afford.  We were this close to buying the standard leather brown set that is so popular these days.  Then I saw these couches, checked the price and realized they were within my reach - I just had to have them!  The frantic texting of pictures to my sisters and husband who was a critical part of it working out began.

My husband gave his approval and my sister, the voice of reason told me to go for it but to realize I would have to repaint and get new rugs and curtains.  A friend told me the couches had been reupholstered since the fringe on the pillows is not something that would have been original to the couches, I'm going to cover the pillows in some flashy purple soon enough.  There are so many colors in the upholstery; I have a lot to work with.  One day when I run out of projects to do I will probably reupholster them again in some bizarre fabric.
Perhaps beige for the walls, although that sounds so dull! 
I have many colors to work with. 
I have a hard time posting pictures of my living room since it is far from how I want it but here it is anyway.  Besides the paint and rugs I need a whole new take on pictures, more fitting end tables and probably new curtains.  Luckily I had enough curtains I was able to switch the previous ones which clashed the couches worse than this lime green paint.  So excuse the incomplete room and enjoy the bold presence of the couches.  The future paint will allow the couches to take center stage.

Not the best picture but this shows the living room as you walk into it from downstairs.  Hopefully by the fall or winter we will have a wood-burning stove to the lower right of the picture.  To the left you can see one of the bedrooms off the living room.  The white partition is my way of hiding the television form being a focal point of the house sine the living room is very visible from the kitchen/entry area.  To the front left before the sofa chair hiding in the corner are my sewing table and a bookcase. It is a nice little nook and way of dealing with the long living room space.  
What color you think I should paint the living room?  Do you have any other suggestions for this space?  Leave a comment and help me out.  I am not the interior designer of the family but I know how to follow instructions! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homemade Deodorant

This homemade deodorant is super easy to make.  It is not only NOT harmful to you but the ingredients are actually good for your skin creating a deodorant that is naturally antimicrobial, moisturizing and absorbent.  Plus it smells fantastic!  As with everything I make at home, it is also cost effective.  While Coconut Oil and essential oils are not cheap, this batch lasts a long time and in the end it is less expensive than regular and especially store bought alternative deodorants and it doesn't irritate my skin like some of the alternative brands do.

Melt on low in a saucepan -

  • 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Starch
  • 20 Drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 20 Drops Lavender Essential Oil

You can always double this - I usually do.  Once the ingredients are all melted together, pour the mixture into a jar.  Use your fingers to apply as needed.  When my husband finally lets me make him some deodorant I will use rosemary instead of the lavender.   I absolutely love this deodorant and it works beautifully. 

Blog Hopped on Frugally Sustainable

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Floor Extension

I've talked about my over-sized stairs a couple times now on this blog, once about my idea to stick a planter there and once about my lack of ability to drive long nails.  We have a split level home; the upper level separated by what used to be four very long stairs.  Apparently before that they were about the size of a door and the previous owner knocked a whole wall out and made the stairs the size of the wall.  Ironically enough I begged the help on getting a game plan to shrink these stairs properly from the same neighbor who helped the previous owner lengthen them.  Thanks Tom!

At one point we were going to turn half of the stairs into a built in book case.  That plan didn't get far.  Then I was contemplating putting a planter there as a pretty divider.  But I did finally decide once and for all what to do.  I built the living room floor (the upper room) out extending over half of width of the stairs and I am going to get a wood burning stove and put it right there.  It is the perfect location for there is the perfect amount of space considering all the clearances needed with a stove large enough to heat our place and the stove can easily heat the upper level and the lower level.  It will perfectly occupy that unwanted portion of the stairs.

This is how it went down.  I framed the front in with six vertical 2x4s, doubling up on each end, in between two horizontal 2x4s.  First I made the frame and then attached it in place to the floor and wall.  Then I used 2x6 joists to stretch from the existing floor attached by joist hangars including a double joist hanger on the outer side, and resting on the frame I had just built on the other side.

Here is a before picture:

The 2x6 joists are attached to the simple frame on one side and joist hangars on the other side using a double hangar on the outer edge.  The 2x6 closest to the wall is nailed directly to the wall.

Per my dad's suggestion I put 2x4 blocks in between the 2x6s to keep them stable always.

The 2x4 blocks also aided in attaching the drywall.

On the stair side I cut holes in the drywall so it could fit snugly over the outer edge of the hangar nails without a bulge.  It worked perfectly.

I fastened a sheet of plywood to the joists to create what is now an extension of the living room floor! I then textured and primed the drywall.  I will wait until I actually know which wood stove we will get before I tile or brick the area - I want to make sure the specs all work and that I won't need to cut into the hardwood floor before finishing the floor.  One day I may actually get something on the sitars too!  I'm still not sure what to put there.  I'm pretty anti carpet though I wouldn't mind a runner on hardwood stairs.  Since the wood stove will be so close though I may tile the stairs.  Certainly there will be a railing to block off the stove from the stairway.  For the record if ever a fire occurred at the stairway, there is an emergency exit from the house from the upper level.


I've always wanted a wood stove.  My grandparents and my aunt have one.  I adore the flicker of flames, covet the ability to get hot - really warm inside the home.  I am drawn to the self sustainability a wood stove offers for heat as well as the ability to cook off it.  A while back I gave up on my idea of having a stove in this house because I decided whoever buys it in the future isn't going to want to haul wood in since there is no entry to the house that does not involve stairs.  But screw that, I'm living here now.  I want a wood stove and I'll be damned if I don't have one by next winter!

I really want a stove with two doors on opposite sides so I can see the fire from upstairs and down but because of efficiency regulations those are not currently sold in the states.  There are wood stoves with two doors, one door being on the side and it just may work in this space but I'm not exactly sure since the side door may need the stair side to not be blocked off with a railing.  I really want the doors opposite each other.  We'll see.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chicken Coop Fort, Step 2 - Framing the Coop

Chicken Coop Fort
Step 1 - Planning
Step 2 - Framing
Step 3 - Burying the Posts

Once I had an idea of what I wanted my coop/fort to look like I started framing the coop.  I did the framing from the comfort of my garage long before I actually took the project outdoors.  All the materials for this phase of the project were second hand.  I collected materials from old projects and bought a lot of my materials from a local(ish) salvage yard, The Rebuilding Center.

Note: When you are mapping out plans, realize that wood these days is not true to their named dimension.  You can find true dimensional lumber at places like The Rebuilding Center but the standard lumber sold is smaller than its named size.  For example a 2x4 is really 1.5x3.5.  Here is a list of the typical dimensions of lumber and some information on types of wood.


My coop base is made of a 3/4" 5'x4' sheet of plywood attached to 2x4s.  The base was designed to fit inside the long 4'x4's that run up the entire coop/fort.

Where the 4x4 is marked in the corners on the picture below I just left a gap (3.5x3.5) since this frame was going to be attached to the 4x4s once outside.

I'm sorry about the quality of the following picture.  I had pictures of all the framing before it went up outside but somehow lost them.  This is the base of the coop from the underside.  When I built my first coop I had to ask my dad which way to lay the boards.  Just so you know, the plywood or base of your structure goes on the narrow edge of the 2x4's (see the two pictures below).  The thickest part of the board is the strongest so it is the side that supports the structure.

Below is little clearer shot of half of the underside of the base .


 The picture below shows the overhead view specs of the inside of the coop.  The nesting boxes are on the left (east wall).  The front (north) of the coop has a door for me to access the coop and a window.  On the right hand side (west side) is the door for the chickens to enter and exit through.  On the back (south) there is one window.

The thing to realize about framing is that wherever you want a window, door, nesting box or anything special you frame it - make a box around it.  The framing gives you a board to attach your siding, doors, windows et cetera to.  I deviated a little from the blueprints below so the live pictures may not match the blueprints but hopefully this gives you an idea.

I designed it so that the roost would be attached on the 2x4 support that is above the nesting box (east wall) directly across from a 2x4 on the right side (west wall).  Droppings pits are below the roost (obviously). The plans below do not accurately reflect the location of the 2x4 on the west wall.  You have to attach the roost to something more than siding!


Below is a detail of the east side - the side with the nesting boxes.  There is a window above the nesting box.

The nesting box was already put together separate from the framing of the wall.  It fit in between and was attached to the framing. The nesting box lid was made long after the framing.  Note:  Barbie and friends are pissed that the chickens have taken over what used to be their stomping grounds.

This is what the east wall looked like once sided and trimmed.


This is the west side of the coop.  The 16"x16" box to the right is the door for the chickens to come in and out of - with of course a latter attached.

Here is the west wall with the siding, trim and door. 

Here is an even more finished picture to give more clarity.


The door is on the left, the window on the right and I did droppings pits later down the line under the door and window.  

The 2x4 under the window is slanted to accommodate the window which was slanted. I purchases the window already framed from the salvage yard and simply screwed it in to the framing the same way I attached the nesting box. 

I really wish I had a picture of just the siding without the door, droppings pits and trim but for context, this shows what these plans came to.


Below are the specs for the back (south) wall.  I ended up having the window simply go in between the two vertical 2x4s for much easier framing.

Even though this picture is taken from the front, look to the back to see how the back window was framed in between the 2x4's.  I used something like a 1x4 there.  I was working with scraps, really anything that gets the job done will work - a 2x4 for the bottom of the window would have been great too.

Here is the south side realized.  The line in the window is just because I was using scrap wood.  This used to be a bookcase with a groove in it - it is one piece of wood just with an indention in it.

I had to use two pieces of siding for this wall and I attached the two pieces where there was a 2x4 because you have to have something to fasten the siding to - that's what the framing is for!


The 2x4s on top of the walls are laying the opposite way as the coop base 2x4s with the wide side parallel to the ground, not the narrow side.  This way it perfectly attaches to the vertical 2x4s.  The plywood which makes up the roof of the coop was simply nailed (or screwed - I forget and either way is fine) to the top 2x4s.

Note: I did something unconventional when I was framing this so it would be easier to assemble.  I used fence brackets under the framing where the 2x4s attached to the base.  You can see it in the pictures above.  Normally you would just drive a nail in sideways through the 2x4 and base, which I did, but I also fastened the 2x4s to the fence brackets.

If you are actually trying to glean something from this, please, please, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or email me asking me for clarification on anything that was confusing or any questions you might have. There are NO dumb questions.  Remember I am just a girl who wanted some chickens.  I still don't actually know what I'm doing but it all seems to be turning out just fine.  The only thing holding most of us back is intimidation so don't hesitate, just cut the first board.

I will post more plans on the nesting box, the 4x4 posts and the fort as well as general specs you should know about things like how many nesting boxes you need, how high the roost should be etc.  Stay tuned!

Chicken Coop Fort
Step 1 - Planning
Step 2 - Framing
Step 3 - Burying the Posts