Lego Table-a DIY Project

Hello Friends,

Our lives have been full of school activities, what with the end of the year and all. I feel like a little break though. A while back I mentioned that I wanted to share more of our project life, so here goes…and the fact that it is a Lego-centric post is gravy on the potatoes.

Projects were a part of our lives well before the girls arrived. I am still a DIY kind of guy, but my projects have shifted. As life would have it, they have gone from “my projects” (1955 Buick), to “our” projects (1920 Bungalow), to “their” projects. This last category hosts a long, ever-growing list of things that need building, modifying, or repair. Recently, we customized a table to create a Lego building/play space.

I mentioned this table in my Lego History post, but the backstory is that we bought it from the liquidation sale when they closed the Sears down the street. Formerly for product display, the table is an all-steel frame with pressed-wood inserts. It was a little beaten up, but a sanding and a fresh coat of paint cleaned it right up.

Wife and I then set about the baseplate layout. She had picked up the green plates at Target for the girls’ free play. The road plates are from my Lego building days in the eighties (big thanks to the Q nephews and nieces for taking care of them!). As I mentioned in the history post, we wanted some type of layout, without sacrificing free play space. So far, the table is a combination of sets from buildings mixed with the girls’ creations. Free building and set following in one!

You can see that the height works perfectly for these chairs we found at Costco. There is also the lower shelf for storage (you can just see our storage bricks). And the girls love it. I don’t think a day goes by where they aren’t building and playing at the table. And many days, I have to kick them off so we can make it to school.

In total, this project cost under $75. The table itself was $23, a weird price because of the liquidation sale. The green plates are $7.99 off the shelf at Target. The paint is a $15 quart of Rustoleum (plus a handful of cheap brushes). Granted, we had the road plates, and the Costco chairs, so there was a re-assignment of existing resources. If I had painted in the warmer weather, I could’ve saved time and money with spray cans. But again, the girls are at the table daily, and their friends gravitate right to it when they come over to play. I think this project has already paid for itself.

So there’s our Lego table project. I will continue to share more of my projects, so you’ll be seeing them. I just caught wind of an IKEA/Lego collboration, so there may be a better, official option soon. Anyway, let me know what you think, or share your Lego play space.

We’ll see you out there!

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Highlighting Community Glue Workshop

Hello Friends,

I know you return to this site to enjoy my well-executed prose, but it is nice to feature a piece by friends of the detour and highlight their journey. Today’s post is about one such article by Carla Bruni from Community Glue Workshop. Carla is a long-time friend (we’re talking like, Junior High), friend of the family (in all stages of its growth), friend of the detour (since it’s inception), author of websites like ToolMade.org and The Green Preservationist, historical preservation maven, old-barn aficionado, maker, artist, writer and overall good human being. Whew! At about the time Sweetie joined our family, Carla and her creative collaborator, Allie Brisbin, started Community Glue Workshop with the focus of repairing household items, not replacing them. Think back to when ownership of some thing, like a clothes washer, included diagnosing and repairing it, not just throwing it away and ordering a new one. That is part of their mindset, with a heaping dose of cooperative community learning mixed in. Wife brought home the latest issue of StreetWise on Friday and showed me Carla’s article. It was a great chance to re-connect with her and get the word out about this movement/philosophy/committed group of handy folks. Here’s the link to Carla’s post on the Community Glue Workshop blog site:

https://communityglueworkshop.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/were-featured-in-streetwise/

Over the ten years of our home ownership, we have undertaken a variety of projects from DIY remodelling to our professional second floor addition. While we have tried to incorporate reusing, re-purposing and repairing, Carla lives this stuff in both her professional and private life. More importantly, she shares the idea and supports like-minded people. She makes the repair ideal accessible. I am super proud of my longtime friend  and this philosophy she and Ally are promoting. Besides that, I enjoy reading the content she posts. Check out the sites listed above and connect with this movement, especially if you have something sitting around that house that needs a little repair. Of course, throw them some online support with likes, comments, following/subscribing, etc..

Repair movements are growing and people are changing their relationships with their “stuff” – we have to. It is because of actions by people like Carla and Ally, and groups like Community Glue Workshop, that I feel confident my girls won’t inherit a world that is completely ruined, but maybe just needs a little repair.

Looking Forward to the Year

Hello Friends,

Happy New Year to you all! I hope the first week of the new year is going well for you. Our week has been good, and Monday marked the end of Winter Break and the girls’ return to school. Overall, the girls are in good spirits, our house is happy.

My ideas for the new year are coming together, bits and pieces linking up to form a blog plan for 2019. I made mention of some of this before, but bear with me while I share a bit:

This school year marked a significant shift in my detour. Being the “at-home” parent is different with both of the girls at school during the day. It’s time for me to start talking about this shift and using this blog to process the changes. Plus, there are future plans to create.

I have been working on various projects throughout the years, like the playhouse. My interest in DIY projects has grown along with my skills. It only takes a few minutes online to see that many others share an interest in projects. I want to show more of these projects and grow this part of the conversation.

I want to continue to share and deepen my commitment to this blog and your readership. December brought some “circle of life” notices to me and our family. Thankfully, birth announcements were part of the news (hence the “circle”). As I found myself thinking over the friends who will be fathers this year, and their coming children, I thought about all the stuff I wanted to share. Advice? Six years ago I would not have dared to say that. Today, more than ever, I feel that I want to share the experiences I’ve collected, the different gear I’ve tried, the various classes and activities. And share the learning curve that I still encounter.

And video content. I’ve mentioned it before, but I want to add video content. The girls provide too much fodder, historically and currently, for me to capture it all in writing alone. If you guys like the pictures of the girls, you will roll with videos of their antics.

I thanked you all at the end of last year, but really, I can’t say it enough times. At least when I write out “Thank you”, you can sit with it on the screen in front of you and let it sink in. I write this blog for my family and my role in it. All of you, my readership, play a part in shaping that role. I am inspired by your stories, motivated by your interest, challenged by your feedback. Thank you for stopping by, and I look forward to seeing you on the detour throughout 2019.

Time for the House

Hello Friends,

This is the last update on our yard work. After the playhouse goes in, my focus shifts to yard maintenence. Rest assured, there won’t be any posts about edging and mowing. Although maybe I will do a “carbon-neutral” post in the future to highlight human powered lawncare. Anyway, playhouse.

After a bunch of shopping and comparisons we went with the Greystone Cottage from Costco (it’s part of the Cedar Summit line by Kid Craft). We tried to balance look, playability, value, and price, and for us, this house won out.

What you’re seeing in these messy photos are the parts of the house laid out by number (all parts are numbered for easy building). This was one of the first steps in the manual, and was a helpful hint from the company. I tried to clear out half the garage for work space, but you can see how easily the parts filled up the space.

Tio Long-Arm-of-the-Law came by for the first night of building. His help made that night productive. The cottage uses a lot of screws to fasten the pieces. So while I was fastening a part, he was reading the next step, and bringing me the next parts and fasteners. If you buy this house I recommend getting a second person at least until the base is assembled and the roof is on.

And…POOF! Playhouse. I said this wasn’t going to be a tutorial, just some sharing. Photos after build night #1 would’ve been nice, but oh well. Anyway, fits nice, right?

So, let’s sum up this experience. The box is big enough and heavy enough to be a hassle, but not impossible to get home. One person can get it from the store, two is ideal. There are a lot of parts, but they are numbered. Organize the parts and the hardware (use a plastic Costco apple crate for hardware) to facilitate assembly. One person can handle most of the assembly, but a second person can dramatically improve productivity. And two sets of eyes is better than one , especially for the few steps that aren’t completely clear (and really, there are only a few). Build night #1 was 2 hours with two adults, build night #2 was 2 hours just me. So 6 total Dad hours. Once assembled the house can be moved by 3 adults easily, 2 with a bit of caution. The light weight of this house is deceptive though, as it is sturdy. The wood is lightweight, so charge the battery for the driver but use a light trigger. It is easy to bury the screws and split boards.

Overall, Wife and I are pleased with the Greystone Cottage. I did leave off a flag accessory which is just a big piece of plastic. The wood is treated, but we did spray it with a waterproof paint to be safe,and I tarp it if we’reexpecting storms. So far it is all fun at the cottage. The girls have no complaints, except when I call them for dinner!

That Yard Tho’…

Hello Friends,

This spring I shared the post-remodel state of our yard and the beginning of our next plans. The main focus is on a paver “pad” where we will put a playhouse for the girls.

The location is great, the size almost perfect (nothing some yard tools can’t adjust), so we’re off. My years in the bodyshop taught me that a good end result is all about the prep work. First step, excavate.

There’s the pad after excavation, first layer of weedcloth, and the initial “Paver Base 1” (all sand-like products are Sakrete brand). This was followed by more Base 1, levelling, tamping and then some “Paver Base 2”, also know as levelling sand. Then we were ready to start fitting pavers.

These nifty guys are an AZEK product that Wife found on Home Depot’s website. Made from recycled rubber, they give a little when you step on them. Hopefully it cushions the falls. Eight (8) bricks come on each base which makes alignment and gapping much easier.

The pad is boxed in by the sidewalk and the garage foundation, so we had to make some cuts. Both the bases and the bricks can be cut to size, you just need a coarse-tooth blade and some patience. When you cut rubber too fast it smokes, stinks, and burns! Nice and easy here, friends.

Edging! I almost forgot about the edging! This plastic paver edging by Edgepro was easy to work with. I used a heat gun to warm and bend the corners, and my nifty multi-tool for cutting. Hot plastic this time, so again, some patience.

After testing, edging, levelling, trimming, more levelling and installing, we got this:

Nice shadow, huh? I think you get the point, though. Wife liked the pattern I laid out. I liked that the pattern happened as I put the bricks in the bases. Seriously, I’m not even sure how to plan out this pattern. It was like a big Lego set in a way, except easier to find and fix mistakes. Next step, locking sand!

This stuff was a little funky to work with, but steady work with gentle water got it all done. Wife and the girls kept washing the bricks with water to insure the polymer did not leave a film on them. The continuous water, not aimed at the seams, helped the sand dry evenly and smoothly.

That gets us ready for the last part of this project: build the house!

To be clear, I’m just sharing our project with you all. This isn’t meant to be a tutorial on laying pavers. I collected most of the technical info for this project from the back of the product bags. The rest I found online. From there it was chipping away at each step until I got where the bag said I needed to be. All of the products for this pad were purchased through Home Depot, either online or in the store (I see you Addison and Kimball!). Home Depot did not, however, sponsor this post. But I have a long list of projects and there is plenty of opportunity! That’s a big hint, Home Depot contact me!

Alright, next update will cover the playhouse. Again, I’m not going for a tutorial, just show you our adventure.

We’ll see you out there!

Always Yard Work

Hello friends,

I think I explained the shape of our yard when we returned to the house last July. But, to save some typing, check out the photos:

A bit scary, no? It got trashed from the construction/worker traffic/material storage, and I chose to complete the “landscape clean-up” on my own. So I got to work in July cleaning it up, mainly for the girls’ safety. Here’s how we ended the summer:

Better, but that overgrown mass used to be the raised bed for our organic garden. I made it the storage spot for the branches when I cut down our cherry tree. Wife and I plan to add a playhouse for the girls, so this spring has been about excavation and continued clean-out. We’re not there yet, but we definitely have progress.

I am sure many of you used the long weekend to take care of some yardwork as well. I hope it was productive and you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. Stay tuned for the completion of our project!

A little down time

Sweetie is asleep so Momma Bear and I are just sitting enjoying some mindless television. Baby Garbanzo is due to arrive any day now and I think we are ready (as ready as possible), so we are relaxing a little.

We have spent the last six months preparing for this new addition to join our household. Once again rooms were re-assigned and furniture moved around. Ceiling fans, closet remodeling, electrical clean-up, light installations, fresh paint and shelves were all part of the overall projecting on our three bedrooms. And where are all of the pictures of these projects? And where is the DIY, Dad-centric information on these projects? And how does one complete these projects without exposing the rest of the family to noise, dust and fumes? Alas, as Wife and I completed a “quilted” headboard for Sweetie’s bed tonight we admitted that we are terrible at recording and sharing these things. I think this new baby will help me re-visit the blog site and edit some items. I am thinking I need to launch a new “Projects” category to share all of this stuff with the ‘webs.

Mmmm, quilted

Mmmm, quilted

The blog was just an idea when I started my new assignment with Sweetie. I didn’t get the site up and running until she was eight months old. This time the infrastructure is in place, and I hope I utilize it. I already recognize things I didn’t catch and share before, so I should be better about that. And there should be less surprises this time around. “Should be”. That is such a funny thing to say when dealing with children. Anyway, the point is that I should be writing more over the next year than I did with Sweetie’s first year. Since I started my blog I have discovered various other stay-at-home Dad blogs. That’s not profound, that’s the beauty of this whole blogosphere. It’s a big conversation with input coming from all over the world (it always takes me a minute to “translate” when I read entries from Britain because of the different lingo). I started this blog intending to share my experience and support other stay-at-home Dads. Joining that conversation has been excellent and I look forward to refining my contribution.

Well, the bags are packed and loaded in the car. (Want to know what we packed? Just ask in the comments and I will detail it out.) It’s late enough for tonight and time to sleep – we’re going to need all the rest we can get over the next few days. In brief, the transition to a “big” bed went smoothly and Sweetie has been enjoying it for the past 3 months. Potty training is going well, with big strides this past week.  It has been one month since we have changed a diaper and I am loving every minute of it. Of course this will only last until Garbanzo shows up, but that’s no big deal (once we’re done with the meconium – ugh). That new addition is coming soon, and Wife and I will share what “it” is once we know. That’s right folks, no gender info here! Friends all around us have started a “2 child family” club and we are marching right towards it; ETA, August 9. Oh yeah, and there is this whole back porch project I have yet to share with you. There is more work to do, so the detour continues. Dads, this one’s still for you.