Renovation Update: Newell Post Installation

We finished the stair tread installation a while back but we had yet to install the newel posts, rail and balusters.  Up until about a month ago we’d had a staircase with no rail, but that is no more! We officially have a full staircase which Andy completely built by hand. I’ll be breaking this post up into two so it won’t be so long.

Part 1 – Newel Post Installation

I have to first say I love the newel posts Andy built. Like the stairs, they’re made of beech and they’re beefy which looks so good in such a huge stairwell area. The photos below show how nice they are, but at the end of this series you’ll get to see the caps we put on them which are beautiful.

To install the newel posts, Andy started by ensuring they would have a solid base and be super secure. We have three posts, so we picked up three Sure-Tight newel fastening systems.

DSC_8449-01Next Andy test fitted where the newel posts would go, marked it off, found the center, and drilled a hole for the screw.

DSC_8496-01To ensure the screw would thread in easily, Andy utilized a soap scrap from Green Barn Soaps.

DSC_8499-01 DSC_8501-01Once the threads were soaped up, it easily screwed in.

DSC_8517-01A quick vacuum of the soap scraps that inevitably turnout while you screw it in, and a quick ensure that the screw was deep enough, and Andy was ready to install the newel post.

DSC_8523-01To start he vacuumed out the post from the bottom and top just to make sure no wood shavings from the drilling process were in the way.

DSC_8525-01 DSC_8526-01Once the newel post is put on the screw, there’s a nut that holds it down inside. The thing is, of the hundred wrenches we have, none would fit properly to be able to screw it in. Andy, of course, didn’t let this hold him back. I give you newel post installation fabricated wrench.

DSC_8547-01 DSC_8548-01Win! Andy removed just enough of the metal to be able to fit the wrench, and also turn it to tighten the nut.

DSC_8558-01 DSC_8560-01One by one the newel posts were fit, drilled, and installed.

DSC_8486-01DSC_8578-01I really love how these look installed, and will be sharing the rest of the installation process of the rails and balusters this week! While you’ll have to wait, don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

DSC_8575-01xo,

Heather

Sand Sand Sand Senora, Sanding All The Time

Sometimes you just have to throw a little Harry Belefonte out there. Especially when you’re doing a ton of sanding and the song keeps getting stuck in your head with “sand” instead of “shake” because you’re especially weird like that.

Weirdness accepted, we making more and more progress on the house and my arms are oh my God so ripped now—if by “ripped” I mean “weak and sore”.  With the bedrooms painted we needed to sand down the exposed beams before sealing them. We are keeping them au natural instead of gussying them up like so many people do (so many jokes to be had about keeping things au natural). Jokes aside since my grandma reads this, before we started sanding the beams were kind of dull and had a little mold on them, which happens (it’s no big deal, there are literally mold spores everywhere). Instead of painting them which would make it almost impossible to undo, we really wanted to sand them to a bright wood tone in order to bring out the grain.

Before we dry-walled, we sanded each beam on the ends but saved the rest of the sanding until we had finished painting. In order for you to see the before and after, I sanded the closest beam below and the others are all sanded on either end but un-sanded in the middle. See how much prettier the wood is where it’s sanded?

DSC_2381-01 DSC_2383-01Using rolling staging (sort of seen in the photo above) I used an orbital sander and 100 grit sandpaper. On the tougher spots I used 80 grit sandpaper to remove more material. Because we’re not staining them and because they are up high it’s almost impossible to see any marks left by an 80 grit paper from regular standing level (they’re almost impossible to see when you’re right up close to them too). I would be hesitant to sand with anything below 120 grit however if you’re going to stain, unless you do a low-grit sand paper followed by a high-grit. Sanding the sides wasn’t difficult but oh my muscles was the bottom to each of them tiring. Instead of holding the sander over my head, which is also dangerous, I found the easiest way was to almost hug the beam from the top and hold the sander. Instead of pushing from the bottom, I was pulling from the top which made it easier to hold for long periods of time. When all was said and done each beam looked light, airy and you could see the beautiful wood grain patterns in each beam.

DSC_2395-01 DSC_2394-01We still have seven more beams to sand (two in the stairwell and five in the other bedroom, but we’re happy with the progress. Everything is definitely pulling together.

Since it’s somewhat obvious in the photos, we finally painted the master bedroom! While we have to admit the color is pretty, it’s so close to white that when it’s sunny in there you can’t tell it’s painted until you notice the ceiling is bright white. We really thought it was going to be a soft gray but it’s one of those colors that’s very malleable (more than most) in different lighting. In our bedroom with all the sunlight it looks like a white with a hint of beige and gray.

DSC_2379-01It’s odd that the paint on the walls looks slightly different than the paint on the chip and yet, the paint when on the chip dries to look just like the chip. Believe it or not, the first chip of the center strip above has the paint on it. The strip is clearly a gray, while in our room the walls look like a milky white.

All of that said, we’re okay with it for now. It’s definitely a pretty color but we’re planning on repainting down the line (maybe a couple years) to give it a little more saturated color. Then again, we might completely love it as is once we decorate around it! If we change, we’ll be sure to let you know. In the mean time—more sanding!

xo,

Heather

DIY Simple Garden Trellises

Every year when we stake up our beans and tomatoes we use a simple piece of scrap wood and tie it on with cotton twine. This year I decided to shuck tradition and go for the all natural approach using sticks and fallen branches in the woods mixed with some twine. I decided I wanted to try two different types of trellises, a simple three leg one and a stand up one. I’m curious to see which one holds up better over time, and which one the peas prefer to crawl up. Eventually I would like to make a sapwood arbor which my peas can grow over, while my lettuce and basil grows under so they can have some relief from scorching sun and perhaps last longer. The only tools I needed were a small handsaw, large branch pruners (but I think the saw alone would be fine) and some scissors to cut your string/twine.

For all the wood below, give it a once over so you don’t bring diseased wood into your garden. Also, enjoy watching haying, but don’t get too close lest you get recruited to drive the tractor. Normally you wouldn’t care but you’re dying to try and make these trellises and nothing is going to stop you. Except the farmer, because you already feel like you’re shucking a neighborly responsibility. Sorry Steve.

People I know tend to refer to me as a little crunchy, which makes me laugh because I consider myself a homesteader but not particularly some super earthy hippie throwback. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t see myself that way. While doing this project I looked down and realized I had just traipsed through the woods, picked up (or sawed off) branches and was sitting in the grass in a long maxi dress with a woven basket filled with twine. Then I remembered I make soap and a host of other cleaning products, I like showering every other day unless it’s really hot out or I have to, I prefer to be barefoot, I rarely if ever wear makeup and my favorite clothes in the world are either maxi dresses or chunky sweaters. Maybe I am a little crunchy. Country girl with a soft spot for a good pair of heels and a large makeup case she rarely uses but knows how to. I think that sounds good.

On this particular day though there was really no second guessing my crunch-level, and I was pretty much okay with it. Nothing wrong with a little creativity, work and savings. Oh, and did I mention I didn’t have to use the power tools at all to split the scrap wood into stakes? Yeah, I think that had a lot to do with it too.

Stand Up “Fence” Trellis

This was similar to fence building, in the sense you’ll need to do it in sections. Also, you may need to add some support to the lower legs because it ends up a little unsturdy. We’ll see how it holds up as the peas crawl but for now it’s good and hasn’t fallen down.

  1. Find two lengths of branch, rather straight but they don’t need to be perfect, which will act as your sides to the trellis.
  2. Figure out how much width you need and get smaller branches that will act as the climbing pieces for your beans. Mine were a little small but just remember they need to support the weight of the plant so nothing flimsy. Strip them of their branches and cut to width. You’ll want between 1-2″ at a minimum of overhang on either side so you can tie them up. 
  3. Once you have everything lined up, cut a very long piece of twine and slowly start wrapping it. You may need to sturdy the first piece between your legs. Make sure your outer piece on the first side doesn’t get twisted so it won’t stand up straight, especially if your side pieces were slightly curved like mine. My in-between branches would only fit if I had them turned inward, so I had to make sure to keep them that way. To tie them on you’ll want to wrap once and do a tight knot while leaving a 3-4 inch tail on the starting side. Wrap again the opposite direction like an “X” and knot again. Now keep wrapping over, around, under, side to side until it feels tight. It might not look pretty, but it should be rather secure. Make sure to keep your twine very tight while wrapping.
  4. Continue this method for all of your branches until they are secure.
  5. To place in the garden, firmly press where you would like it to go and then remove and pre-dig the holes for the posts to go in. Put the trellis posts in place and firmly pack the soil in around the posts. Jiggle the posts a little and then pack the dirt in again. You want this tight. If it’s still too wiggly, you can tie two sticks onto the bottom to make a brace. Just tie them on like the other pieces.

When you’re done, the trellis will look something like this.

Tripod Trellis

This trellis is significantly easier to do, so I won’t even break out the numbered bullet points. Go find three sizeable branches. Cut them to similar lengths. Place them where you want them in the garden and lean the tops together until it feels steady, tie them together with twine. Make sure to weave in and out of each branch instead of just around all three. This will increase the strength of it and keep it from falling apart. For me, this version was extremely steady and I could easily pick it up to move it without any digging. I just placed it over my peas, helped them get started up it and moved on.

 

The winner as of today: The tripod trellis. Much sturdier, no holes, easily moveable, and easier to assemble. I think the other one will be easier to harvest from though, but that still doesn’t negate how good I think the tripod trellis will turn out. If my decision changes I’ll let you know.

As a side project, I used some left over cuts I had to stake up my tomatoes. Nothing fancy, just pounded the stakes into the ground and then used some pieces of scrap fabric I had laying around to tie them up. Easy Peasey. Just a few more weeks and those green tomatoes will be big enough to pick. Mmm.

I really like the rustic and utilitarian nature of the trellises. I also love that they were free, very simple to pretty simple in difficulty, and involved no power tools. Plus, they make my garden look a little nicer. Win, win and win.

xo,

Heather

P.S. There’s another photo from this day, of a sneaky little bugger with yellow fur, over on my Instagram page. You can follow me at username: likeacupoftea or like the Like A Cup of Tea facebook page and click on the “Instagram” tab.

Pioneering & Pictures

Have you ever read The Pioneer Woman?  This blog (along with Young House Love) single handedly (is that a word?) sometimes get me through my lunch hour at work.  My very favorite part of The Pioneer Goddess Woman is her Confessions. Frankly, I feel like I’m reading into my future (small scale – I only wish we had a full on ranch). I always find myself smirking and laughing out loud at her materials. She’s just so honest about everything that it’s a hoot.

She essentially sums up what I picture as the perfect life: a farm, a maybe not so clean house all the time but one that is lovingly and well lived in, livestock, poultry, a gaggle of dogs and maybe some geese, Mr. A’s God given backside in chaps, being smart enough to home-school (that one really is a dream, I’m confident but not that confident) and a hot cup of tea on the porch on a fall day. The fact is, we’re a long way from that. Hopefully within a year chickens will come, maybe a goat or two. The chaps, chainsaw as they might be, are bound to be broken out again come spring leading to one of my favorite views, and I’m not referring to a timbering tree.

If there is one thing I have down, right now as I write this it’s the “…maybe not so clean house all the time but one that is lovingly and well lived in…” part.

Where was I going with this? Side note: Mr. A will tell you that I am notorious for forgetting things. It’s really, really, really pathetic. I should have my head examined. If I could remember to.

Right – things that are important to me. I was going through my phone the other day and came across many pictures that made me smile and remind me how blessed I feel to have a simple, quiet out of the way lifestyle. There truly is nothing as sweet as loving the life you live, and going through it with your best bud by your side (or three best buds if you count the furry ones).  So here they are – in no particular order…except the last one, because really – it is the most important.

Camp

The love bugs.

The crotchety Old Lady who is not longer with us

Our first “home”

Mr. A at work

Tulips

Having the girls pull stunts like this when I’m feeling frumped. It’s impossible to feel frumped while they look like this.

Trust me. Country dogs are the best.

 

Painting. I didn’t say I was awesome. I just like painting.

Flea Markets

The Bovinest Women Around

This face

 

Enjoying the fruits of our garden, for months to come

 

Enjoying the fruits of nature, immediately (apples as it may be)

the feeling of freedom this gives me, and it’s only steps away from my door

and finally, for now -Mr. A. Seeing him in his element & happy is by far one of my favorite pleasures in life

 

Much love, happiness, homesteading and joy,

Heather