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Friday
Oct072011

Thank You, Mr. Jobs, For Putting The World Within Her Reach

Thursday
Oct062011

Crazy Scary. Again.

If you've been reading this little site for more than a year:

  1. Thank you.
  2. I love you.
  3. I wish I could give you back some of the time you've lost reading my drivel.
  4. Skip the whole next section of this post. You already know all of this stuff.

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I have a weird obsession with all things Christmas. It makes absolutely no sense given that Christmas was basically a giant ball of suck for me all the way up until . . . well . . . fairly recently. Except, maybe it does make sense because at some point I figured out that I get out of life what I put into it. And dammit, I'm going to have a good Christmas. I'm going to enjoy every second of picking out gifts for people and of decorating and of putting up lights and WOOOOO! I'm going to have 8 Christmas trees this year! SPARKLY STUFF EVERYWHERE!

And I want to make sure that other people have a good Christmas, too.

Actually, that's probably the most important part to me. I'd happily give up some of those trees if it meant I could make sure that no kid ever woke up on Christmas morning to find that Santa hadn't stopped at his or her house. I had that happen more than once. Let me tell you, it doesn't matter if you're on to that whole Santa scheme, you still feel like a steaming pile of dog poo as you contemplate how bad you must have been to get skipped on Christmas.

Kids shouldn't have to feel like steaming piles of dog poo. Ever. Especially not on Christmas.

So Christmas Crazy was born. This will be third year that I will use this website to rally the troops to come together and help make a little magic. There will be a number of activities so that we can raise enough money and collect enough toys to do some good things.

The first one is Crazy Scary.

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Remember Crazy Scary from last year? You know, the event sponsored by ScareHouse? Perhaps you saw some photographs from the event?

IF SO, PLEASE BURN THEM NOW.

Ahem.

Here's my account of last year's shenanigans. The important details are that I WON THE BET. Oh, and we raised $6299 for kids in need. Half of that money went to Make Room for Kids (Virginia Montanez's initiative to help provide gaming systems to hospitalized children) and the other half went to Christmas Crazy. Specifically, that portion of last year's Christmas Crazy money went to Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center. It allowed them to provide a better Christmas to kids who have been affected by domestic violence.

Despite the fact that all logic says I should run far, far away from any place that has blue princess dresses on hand, WE'RE DOING IT AGAIN!

I won't be wearing that dress again, though. You can go ahead and get over any fantasies of that happening. BECAUSE IT'S NOT.

What will be happening is a night of fun and shenanigans and surprises at ScareHouse! ScareHouse  is consistently rated one of the top Haunted Houses in America, and for good reason. It kicks ass. (And they owners are some pretty amazing people.)

So, on October 19th from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, I hope you'll join us at ScareHouse as we raise funds for some very worthy causes. Tickets are $35 and available here. For your $35, you'll get:

  • Access to the RIP lounge! It's a special place where magical shenanigans and tomfoolery will happen. You might even bump into a few local celebrities.
     .
  • 1 free Clique Vodka Zombitini! The fine folks of Clique Vodka will be helping with this part and will be manning the cash bar.

  • Eats and Treats! Las Velas, Cafe Solstice, Spaghetti Warehouse, and Mindy Heiser have stepped up and are providing some really amazing stuff. I'd tell you exactly what, but then I'd have to feed you to the ScareHouse Bunny. We're BFFs, you know.

See how the axe is pointed at Ginny? That's because he loves me best.

(More photos of a sampling of the prizes are here.)

  • RIP access to the haunt! You'll get to skip the lines when/if you go through ScareHouse. (It's not required, but it is recommended.) You should probably walk through slower than Ginny did last year, though. She missed out on seeing a lot of the amazing details. (This is me NOT embedding that video in hopes that Ginny will have mercy on my soul and not repost certain photographs. LOVE YOU, GINNY!)

There will be local celebrities, a few competitions, and an all-around good time. I hope to see you there! And remember, a portion of the proceeds will go to helping bring a little joy to kids in need. IT'S FOR THE KIDS!

(P.S. No lie, there are only a limited number of special Crazy Scary tickets available. You should hurry. Don't procrastinate. Don't miss your chance to see Ginny lose to me again.) (Because that last part WILL be happening.)

Get your tickets here.

(P.P.S. General admission ScareHouse tickets sold for admission on October 19th will also benefit Crazy Scary. You can buy those tickets here, but keep in mind you won't get the extra special RIP treatment.)

Wednesday
Oct052011

Lofty Instructions

The problem with having a firm deadline on a home improvement project is that my life is anything but "firm." It's pretty squishy because chaos moves fast and sometimes I have to shove things here and there and everywhere. So when it came time to slam some function and style into the spare bedroom, I created two lists. One list was the Must Do list. The other was the We'll Get There When We Get There list.

The loft was on the Must Do list. However, parts of it were and still are on the We'll Get There When We Get There list. So, while I'm sharing how exactly it was that we built the loft, keep in mind that there are parts that still need painted. There is trim that needs to be installed. There are a ton of finishing touches that haven't been done. Long of the short, it really is a project that is still in progress. However, the fact that it's still in progress means there are parts of it that are visible right now that won't be later. That's sort of helpful.

So. The loft.

The total cost of the loft itself stands at just over $120 right now. I still have some trim to buy, but I fully expect that the entire project is going to stay under $150. So, this really is a pretty inexpensive project for what you get. (What we got was a bed that our kid stays in. All night. PRICELESS.)

First, the decision-making process.

The loft is free-standing. Meaning, I can take those bookcases out of there and the loft will stay exactly where it is. See? Not attached.

(And now you know where some of the missing trim is going!)

The reason for that is twofold. First of all, the bedroom is nine feet wide. A standard twin bed is 75" long. If you do the math, you realize that a loft like this one wouldn't make much sense:

We would have lost just over two feet of the width of the room to nothingness.

The other reason I didn't want a loft like that was that I want to be able to use the space under the loft for anything. If we decide to put a twin bed under it, we can. If we want a dresser there, fine. If we want a desk there, that'll work, too. We can literally use the room in any of the ways we could without the loft--there is just a part of the room that has a low ceiling.

By the way, the bookcases are attached to the wall. There's no risk of them falling over.

But we can take them out or move them if we decide we need to do so.

Once I figured out that I wanted the loft to span the entire width of the room, it was easy to figure out the dimensions we wanted to work with. The plywood we used to support the mattress is sold in 4' widths. I wanted the loft to run the width of the room, which is 9'. DONE! The loft will be 4' x 9'!

Seriously. It just didn't make sense to cut the plywood any more than we had to.

As for the height, the bookshelves are 5' tall. I picked that height after walking through IKEA and checking the height on all of the lofts that they had for sale. 5' seemed like the perfect height.

So. 9' x 4' and hung at 5'. Easy enough!

The loft construction itself was also not all that complicated (Time consuming? Yes. Tedius? Yes. Complicated? No.). Here are the basic steps we followed. (I don't have photographs of everything because of that whole firm deadline thing.)

1. Locate the wall studs and mark them clearly.

2. Create a "frame" using 2" x 8" boards. They are attached to the wall using lag bolts and we made sure to hit as many studs as possible.

3. Attach furring strips all the way around along the bottom inside of the "frame."

4. Simulate the slats you find with most bed frames using 2" x 4" boards. We had some 1" x 4" boards sitting around, so we used two of them stacked in some places.

5. Place plywood (we used 5/8" thickness) inside the frame, on top of the slats. Use wood screws to attach it in as many places as possible.

Here's the underside of the whole thing:

If you look closely, you can see that we drilled holes to be able to run power cords up to the corners for lights and Alexis' radio and such.

Here's the underside with some allegedly helpful captions:

And the top looks like this:

It's 5/8" plywood dropped down into the "frame." (The corners are mitered, but that turned out to be a complete waste of time. In fact, it turned out to be a time suck that had no benefit because the corners of the room itself weren't perfect and the mitered corners wouldn't line up.)

What we ended up with is a platform sturdy enough to hold not only the kid who lives here, but also any other kids she decides to let go up there. Our goal was for it to be strong enough to hold five or six kids. Because, really. That could happen when Alexis has friends over. They do crazy things.

6. Build the ladder out of 2"x4" boards. The bottoms of the two sides are mitered at an angle so that the ladder sits flat on the floor when it's leaned up against the loft.

And the rungs are just screwed in so that they are parallel to the floor.

It's not perfect, but once we have a chance to have a little fun with some wood filler and paint and trim, it will end up being purdy.

If you're looking for more "proper" plans for building a loft, try this site. We certainly referenced it when we were working, although we went with a completely different style of loft. I also have a bunch of examples of lofts pinned to a board on Pinterest.