Category Archives: workshop

The One That Got Away

The one that was left behind.

When you’re doing a renovation, especially on a house in which you’re not currently residing, people, usually workers, but occasionally angry neighbors whose trash did not get picked up because your plumber’s truck was blocking their garbage cans, come and go as they please. In fact, the only people who even bothered ringing the door bell during the last few months were the Jehovah’s Witnesses who stopped by to chat.


With all the traffic, all the workers: HVAC guys, plumbers, electricians, drywallers, painters, floor guys, tile guys, trim guys, window guys, roofers and five other categories that I’ve already forgotten, our house has been a busy and hectic place.

And I’m not the type of person who wins awards for her high level of organization in the best of times.

So it’s not surprising that a few items might have gotten misplaced during the course of the Plan A Reno. Some things, though, seem to have walked away. Not that any of the guys would have taken my bottle of Dawn dish soap.

Or maybe they would have.

It’s not that I think we have a kleptomaniac in our midst. More likely, someone accidentally took this or that when it was laid down next to their stuff. But even more puzzling than the missing dishwashing detergent or extension cord is our missing shop-vac.

Because even though our shop-vac went missing, somebody left one in its place. Frankly, I’d be just as happy with a yellow one as our old orange one, but our attachments don’t fit.

We didn’t notice the swap out until about 10 weeks into the reno at which point it was impossible to even know who to call about the potential mix-up. We’ll just have to call our trust old orange friend the one that got away.

Have you had anything walk away, get swapped out or truly stolen during a home repair?

Make Magazine, FTW!

Make Magazine taglineI’m guessing the folks at O’reilly media didn’t know about the video below when they offered me a review issue of Make Magazine. We’ve been fans of Make since my friend Beth Blecherman of TechMamas turned me on to it a few years ago. Make’s tagline is “technology on your time” but I think of it as geek-tech p*rn. Though I learn something from every issue, many of the featured projects are definitely beyond my comfort level.

But perhaps I speak too soon. We’re going to have a fabulous workshop space in our house. Whereas the default in our current living situation is, “I’m bored; let’s watch TV. I hope in our new home it will be more like, “I’m bored; let’s go make stuff.”

It could happen.

The current issue focuses on toys and games. The colorful, eye-catching cover features an 8-bit graphic with mentions of tantalizing projects, like “BUILD A REAL GRAVITY CATAPULT.” There is a serious magnetic pull between my teen and this magazine. Case in point, I actually hid it from him, knowing that once he saw the magazine, it would be a battle to get him to complete his homework. And yet, within ten minutes of his arrival home from school, Make was in his hands.

Other tempting topics in Issue 28 include a piece about Arvind Gupta (a teacher from school had already turned my younger son on to Gupta’s Toys from Trash site), how to create a giant bubble generator and a DIY hi-tech Build a Bear with an embedded RFID. One of the big challenges in this issue is to build a classic video game console using a coffee table. Maybe that’s something for us to take one?

I dunno. I haven’t even gotten to the vermicomposter yet.

 Make is a quarterly magazine that’s the size and shape of a small book. The cover price is $14.99, but a one-year subscription is only $34.95. It could be a wonderful holiday gift (note to self) and for those who are tech-curious, but not inclined, check out some of the kits at the Maker Shed Store.

Here are some projects from Make that caught my eye back when we were house hunting last year.


Kim and Kris are Together Again! Let’s Celebrate

craftswomen bathroom signKim and Kris are together again. The truth is, they never really broke up. Kim Moldofsky and Kris Cain are hosting a Chicago Blogger Holiday Bash with Craftsman this Saturday night.

It all started when we met Ty Pennington at the Craftsman Experience last summer. I had been thinking that I’d like to host a holiday event for my blog friends, but I suspected that our house wouldn’t be ready for me to host one. Kris and I got to talking and pitched our idea to Craftsman, and by next Monday, the rest will be history.

Craftsman is providing the party place, along with food, drink, and yes, a DIY craft as well as handy holiday swag. Kris and I have contacted some of our favorite brands and clients to arrange fabulous door prizes that night.

ConAgra Foods has a lovely gift basket, Serta is going to provide a couple of super comfy memory foam pillows, we’ve got 3 Striiv units to give away, Sky High Sports in Niles is providing a handful of passes and there’s more. And, of course, Craftsman is stepping up with a grand prize to give away at the end of the night.

Good times y’all!

Register by 11/16. See you there? If not, follow along on Twitter at #CraftsmanBlogBash

Cross-posted at Hormone-colored Days.


Lowe’s Gift Card Giveaway

If I win, you win. When I talk with brands about how we might work together with my blogs, I always ask what’s in it for you, my readers. I mean, what’s in it for you beyond my witty/informative banter. At BlogHer11, the Lowes Home Improvement  folks beat me to the punch by offering the winners* of the lunchtime DIY competition a $25 gift card to give away on their blogs. And yes, I was a winner. (I picked good teammates.)

I plan to use my gift card toward our kitchen cabinets for an orbital sander, something I’ve been coveting all summer. And maybe a couple of shelter magazines so I can start thinking more about our decorating style, which I summed up months ago in this video. Yes, I’ve still got a lot of work ahead as I morph from Property Sl*t to Renovation Virgin.

Would you like to win a $25 Lowes gift card?

To enter:

1. (required) Comment once on this blog by 11:50 PM CST on August 24, 2011 for a basic entry. Let me know what you’d like to buy at Lowes with your gift card.

You can also have up to five optional extra entries; I need a separate comment for each of these items, so I can count each one as an extra entry:

2. Tweet about the entry and come back to let me know you did.

3. “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook and come back to let me know.

4. Subscribe to our newsletter, Progress Notes. Starting later this summer, we’ll be sending 1-2 updates a month featuring our progress and advising you on our fabulous home product finds and giveaways. Come back to let me know.

5. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you can keep up with Reluctant Renovator video blogs (admittedly, there have been few of these as I’ve spent most of my summer in pajamas, but just you wait).

6. Follow @RenovatorKim on Twitter.

Winner will be chosen and notified by August 26, 2011 and will have two days to respond to me. If no response if received, a new winner will be chosen.

*Smart marketing move in that it provides a reason to continue the branded conversation as well as adds a viral element to the overall campaign. However, I wish they’d kept the card and just had bloggers contact them with the info for the winners. If the gift card gets lost or stolen from my wallet or in the mail, I will feel bad. I expect the Lowes team would make up for this, but see how these little details seep into my mind and take up way. to0. much. space? People, I’ve got an entire home reno to plan.

Thanks Lowes for helping sponsor BlogHer11, and also giving me a chance to get up close and personal with the Samsung fridge with apps. Alas, we are sticking with a lower, non-tweeting model.

The Poop on Overhead Sewers

Day 2 of overhead sewer installation. I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves. (What a mess. And I thought the basement was bad before!)

A picture may say 1000 words, but you cannot understand the odors that come along with this mess without experiencing them firsthand (lucky you). More chemical than poop, but unpleasant nonetheless. Sorry, I didn’t hang around to work on the lighting and get the best shots.



construction mess

Edited 10/16/11 to add: See what it looks like in our basement after the overhead sewer pipes were installed on this video.

Basement Workshop: The original mancave

basement workshopNearly every mid-century house we looked at had a substantial basement workshop. The original mancave.  Picture all of the walls in the photo on the right walls lined with racks and shelves of old yet well-organized tools- rugged, worn wooden and metal tools. That’s how it appeared when we first toured the house.

Tony, the former owner, the man who literally built our house, must have put in many hours there. Oh, but we hope to build and destroy and  tinker to our heart’s content in the basement workshop!

The reality is, though, that this dark, dank basement space is completely uninviting. Creepy, even.

And after removing some wall damage  in order to fix crack in the foundation, it looks even worse, especially given that I’ve been acquiring handy items during my shopping hauls and filled up the workbench without organizing it.

Also, both the plumber and the electrician will be messing it up even further in the coming week or two, as the former digs a sump pit near the workbench and the latter installs a new panel.


At any rate, the workshop currently looks something like this:

workshop with wall damage

Let’s hope this is not so much an “after” shot as merely an interim photo.

Let’s hope we get to building and making things before the end of the year.