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Office Construction

If you’ve followed SubEarthan Cottage for long, you know about the questionable techniques used in our 1937 home. Over the last few weeks, Chris replaced the sagging ceiling in the center room of our home, removed part of the floor damaged from foundation problems, and put a temporary floor in to allow the final foundation work to be done. 

Office temporary floor
Section of temporary floor.

Because we know the foundation still needs work, we aren’t finishing out the walls yet, either. Rather than doing the texture and paint now and repairing cracks and split seams after the foundation is done, we decided to wait and do the finish work after the structural work is finished.

In the meantime, though, we need the space, so we are turning that room into an office work space. This week, Chris set to work building and installing an L-shaped counter on two walls to serve as desks. He reconfigured the over-sized desk and hutches we found on Craigslist a few years ago into a better configuration for our needs.

Next up, he will add more shelving. Every office needs tons of shelving. I think we could literally start our own library with all the books we have. No matter how much shelving we have, there is never enough. If you notice, above the white boards, there is a space. We plan to have shelving around the perimeter of the room in that space so the books are out and visible but out of the way.

Along with shelving, the office also needs lighting. Since that is the center room of the house, there is no natural light. We plan on adding task lighting and a ceiling fan with lighting.

He used salvaged materials for the majority of this renovation. They came from homes in our area torn down to make way for new construction. Not only does it save money, but I like knowing that we kept solid materials out of a landfill.

Want to see the final results? Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to our newsletter to get updates in your inbox.

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Genius printer hack you won’t believe

Have you ever had to print a paper or mailing label NOW and realized your black ink cartridge is out of ink? As much as I try to keep an extra on hand, sometimes I run out without a backup. Something I’ve found that works in a pinch is to simply remove the black ink cartridge. This forces the printer to use the color cartridge to print the document instead.

With and without the empty black ink cartridge removed.
With and without the empty black ink cartridge removed.

The label on the right was my first attempt at printing a mailing label before realizing that I was overdue for a new black cartridge. The label on the right was printed with the black cartridge removed.

My printer will usually print one or two jobs this way without complaining, then I may have to put the old cartridge back in for a bit then remove it again if I need to print something else. Usually by that time I have been able to get a replacement cartridge.

It’s always better to be prepared, but in a pinch this trick works like magic.


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Summer recap

Photos from our summer adventures.

My baby got a haircut and instantly looked older.

We set up an “indoor” pool.

We visited the park.

And the library.

And an indoor playground.

We had lazy days.

And silly days.

We grew sunflowers.

We gained fur-babies.

We visited more parks, where I tried not to have heart attacks while my boys were monkeys.

And had fun.

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Tree trimming

Since we moved into our house sixteen years ago, we’ve had an ongoing discussion about what to do with the massive tree behind the house. It was gorgeous and shaded the back quarter of the house, but it was also just a few feet away from the house, so there was always a risk of falling limbs and foundation damage.

Easter fun.

You can see it on the side at the back corner of the house and just behind the fence.

Yesterday, with nothing but a fourteen inch chainsaw, a loooong chain and me in the Zombie truck keeping the chain taut (and trying not to have a heart attack), Christopher made this happen:

Tree

No humans, homes, animals or Zombie trucks were harmed.

Tree vs Zombie

Hopefully the chainsaw survived well enough to handle the cleanup, too.

Tree climbing

I was worried it would be dark before the tree came down. I had to wait until this morning to take pictures because it fell at the last possible moment before nightfall.

That corner of the house looks naked now. But, we don’t have to worry about storms dropping it through the boys’ room anymore. It also clears the way for us to put up solar panels once we replace the roof.

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Key holder craft inspiration

We needed a better way to organize our keys. I thought about using hooks and scrap wood to make something, but I didn’t have any hooks on hand. I did, however have an old license plate, clothespins and hot glue, so this is what resulted.

I used hot glue because I could remove the clothespins without much, if any damage to the license plate. So far it’s holding up well, but if I were to make another, I might use something more permanent now that I know the concept works. I’d also use a ruler to line up the pins. I had “help” from the two year old this time, so I had to work fast to keep the glue gun safely away from little fingers.

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December

I can’t believe it’s already December. I love this time of year, but, honestly I could do without all the holidays making what little we have of fall and winter fly by. Meanwhile stinking, hot summer lasts from mid-April to Halloween with no big holidays to break it up. 

Anyway, unlike most years where I’m busy with random chaos and crafting until I realize Christmas is a week away and I still haven’t decorated, I got out our little Charlie Brown tree yesterday and let the boys decorate it. I stayed in the next room folding laundry so I wouldn’t be tempted to micromanage. 

Because that pretty much sums it up. They did a good job, though, and since they did it, I’m less likely to keep rearranging ornaments to get everything just right.

The lighting in that room is terrible. You can make out the toddler-height holes starting to develop while the top of the tree is looking a little crowded. I predict that by Christmas, the bottom of the tree up to about 3.5 feet off the ground will be bare except for lights.

If you look closely, you’ll see some painted pinecone decorations. When Finn was little, I got a huge batch of pinecones and spray painted them red, white and silver. Then I tied jute twine loops on them for hooks. That way, I didn’t have to worry about broken glass if he took them off the tree. He really didn’t bother with them much, though. As you can see, I’ve since gotten braver with ornaments, as have my children.

Have a wonderful weekend, and if you’d like to stay up to date on sales and new items in my Etsy shop, please sign up for my newsletter using the box to the right or at the bottom if you’re mobile. Thanks!

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Quick Ironing Board Cover

My ironing board cover has seen better days. It’s not worn, but it has a few scorch marks and B thought it was a good idea to stamp it a few times with my thank-you stamp. Since it is always visible in my craft room, I wanted something more pleasant to look at, so I decided to make it a shiny new cover.

Eww.

I went with supplies I had on hand and used the ironing board itself to measure, so I don’t have exact measurements. You should be able to adapt from what I did easily, though. Keep in mind that this is just a cover and not the padding. I put mine on right over the old one. If you want to replace everything, you’ll have to find a replacement for the pad, too. (Layers of quilt batting and topped with Insul-brite maybe?)

Supplies:

Enough fabric to go over the top of your ironing board with about a 3 inch overhang on all sides.

Extra-wide double fold bias tape or blanket binding (2-3 packages)

Thin elastic. The bias tape or binding serves as a casing for the elastic, so make sure to choose an elastic thin enough to be threaded through easily.  Mine is 1/4 inch elastic.

Thread.

How to:

Cut the fabric with a 3-ish inch overhang. The easiest way to do this is to put the fabric on the floor, then the ironing board upside down on top and cut around it, eyeballing the overhang.

For this tutorial the pointy curved end is the top, the short, straight end is the bottom and the long edges are the sides. There’s going to be a gap in the bias tape/binding at the bottom, so you will want to finish it some way. If you have a serger, just serge straight across the bottom. If not, you can either zig-zag stitch over that edge or fold over 1/4 inch twice and hem. It doesn’t have to be exact, just make sure when you cut initially that you account for the hem on that end if you go that route.

Find the middle point of the bottom edge. Measure about 1.5 inches on each side of the midpoint and mark. These are your starting and ending points for the casing.

Leaving the three inch space at the bottom open, sew the bias tape/ binding on being sure to enclose the edge of the fabric. Unless you have a really long strip of binding, you’ll probably need to piece the binding together. When you get a few inches from the end of one bias strip, stop sewing and join the new strip by opening the ends flat, overlapping and sewing across. Refold and continue sewing around the edge of the fabric. Stop when you reach the end point.

What happens when you don’t have enough blanket binding on hand? This. This is what happens.

Thread the elastic through the binding all the way around leaving several inches hanging loose at the beginning and end. This works best if you attach a safety pin securely to the leading end of the elastic to help guide it through.

Fit your new cover, pretty side up onto your board and pull the elastic snug.

Tie the elastic securely, trim the ends if necessary.

Admire your new cover.

Questions? Ask in the comments and help me expand on my clear-as-mud tutorial.