|June 4, 2014||Posted by matt under home|
Laura and I bought a table when we were first married that has served us well over the years. We found it for $99 in the “as-is” area of a local furniture store. The only defect was some slight bubbling in the wood veneer top. This bubbling over the years increased and collected all kinds of junk. We tried repairing it by adding wood glue and some pressure, but eventually Laura just decided to peel it off and see if we could repair the veneer. Unfortunately it was impossible to get a clean edge, so replacing just the damaged strip was not a viable option.
Instead, we decided to just try to replace the entire top. For about $50, we were able to buy all the necessary supplies. The table measured about 5′ x 3′, so a single 4′ x 8′ sheet of finished 1/4″ plywood was cut down at the local Home Depot. Here is what we needed:
- 4′ x 8′ 1/4″ birch finished plywood, cut to 3′ x 5′
- One small jar of stain with polyurethane
- One tube of industrial strength construction adhesive
- One small jar of wood pre-stain conditioner
- One small jar of Zar wood patch
- Fine grit sandpaper (220)
- Heavy grit sandpaper (40-60 grit)
We already had a brush, some fine steel wool, and a caulk gun. First, we glued the plywood on the top of the table, using the entire tube of adhesive.
The top was then secured with a few clamps and some weight, and left to cure overnight.
After the top was secured, some heavy duty sanding of the sides and corners was done to make the top flush with the old top and sides. The wood filler was mixed with a bit of the stain and applied to any gaps in the plywood and the gap between the new and old tops.
After sanding with the fine grit sandpaper, the top was conditioned with wood conditioner and two coats of the stain and polyurethane. In between coats, it was buffed with fine steel wool.
And here’s the final product in our dining area.
|April 18, 2014||Posted by matt under homebrew|
Tallgrass Halcyon is a wheat beer from Tallgrass Brewing Company. It’s available as a Pro Series All Grain kit from Northern Brewer. These kits are interesting, they are recipes from the breweries themselves, so they should be pretty close a matching the real thing. I made a Surly Cynic partial mash a few years ago and it was quite good, and I was having a really hard time figuring out what I wanted to brew next. This beer should be ready in 4 weeks, and will be a great summer beer so I thought it would be good to try.
- 7.25 lbs Briess Pale Ale
- 2.75 lbs. Rahr White Wheat Malt
- 0.625 lbs Briess Munich 10L
- 0.25 lbs. Rahr Unmalted Wheat
Total: 10.875 lbs
Boil additions and times
- 0.33 oz. US Magnum 60 min
- 1 oz. Citra 0 min
- White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale, Attenuation 70-80%, Medium to High Flocculation, 65-70°F
Sacch’ Rest: 151° F for 60 minutes
Mashout: 168° F for 10 minutes
At 0 minutes, add Citra then cover and rest for 15 minutes, then cool. They call this a hop-bursting, giving the late addition hops a bit more time at the elevated temperature, but not boiling. This is supposed to add more aroma and more bitterness.
According to the mash calculators, I came up with the following:
Strike Water: 3.62 gallons at 163.48
Mash Out: 6.4 quarts (1.6 gallons) boiling
Sparge Water: 3.56 gallons at 170
Pre Boil Wort: 6.37 gallons
When I added the strike water, I only came up with a temperature of about 146. I ended up adding about another 3/4 gallon of 170+ water trying to get to 151. I finally did (but didn’t track my water totals well), and the rest finished at 149.5, so I lost very little heat in the mash. At mashout, I added 1.6 gallons of boiling water, but only hit 157. I realized later that the additional 3/4 gallon or so required more water at mashout to hit my temp, so I was a little low at mashout. I sparged the rest of the water (about 2.5 gallons) and got 6.5 gallons in a pretty easy sparge. I measured 1.052 OG at the end of the boil, a bit higher than target.
According to the calculator at http://www.brewersfriend.com/brewhouse-efficiency/, I think I’m at 82.5% efficiency.
I bottled this at two weeks, and tried a bottle after one week. It was quite good, and at two weeks in the bottle it was even better. It has a good head, with a bit of lacing on the glass. I taste some grapefruit and other citrus. It’s a lighter straw color with a bit of cloudiness. For only 1.33 oz. of hops, it has a good bit of hoppiness. I’d love to try the real thing to compare. It looks like it’s available at Binny’s, but not any of my local ones, so I’ll have to maybe make a special trip.
|March 7, 2014||Posted by matt under Uncategorized|
One year ago in March I spent some time in the hospital due to a mystery illness. Besides a short stay for an appendectomy a few years back, this was my first real health scare. Shortly after I returned home from the hospital I wrote down some of my experiences, and on the one year anniversary of the episode I thought I’d publish my thoughts.
On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, on my way to work in the morning a felt a little strange. During the course of the morning I suspected I was coming down with the flu and decided I should head home early. I took a 2:30 pm train home, and after reading a slight temperature took a Tylenol and had a decent evening watching an old James Bond movie, thinking that I was going to feel better in a day. The next day my fever started to spike higher, hitting 103. I also started to feel a bit nauseous. The fever and other symptoms just continued to slowly worsen through Wednesday. The following day, Thursday, my fever spiked even higher, hitting 104.9 on one reading. I also was now developing diarrhea. Tylenol would keep my fever down for an hour or two, but it would come back up before I could take more. I went to see my doctor, and after he examined me he had me go straight to the ER. After about a 45 minute wait, I was taken into the ER and given 3 liters of fluids. They did a CT scan with iodine, took blood cultures, and sent me home that evening after my temperature had returned to normal. I felt pretty good when I went home, but at about 2:00 AM I woke up with bad stomach cramps. I had very bad diarrhea during the day on Friday, with my fever continuing to spike. I informed my doctor and he ordered a rotavirus test, prescribed some anti-cramping meds, ordered me to take Tylenol and Ibuprofin at the same time, and to keep my fluids up. He told me if I started to vomit I should return to the ER. In the early afternoon on Friday I vomited all my fluids and begin to feel light headed so I headed back to the ER. I was having trouble walking and staying concious. The triage nurse took my blood pressure and measured 50/20. She immediately took me back to the ER, no waiting this time!
In the ER, I was quickly pumped with fluids in two IVs. They took blood cultures and blood for testing. They informed me that my white bloodcell count (WBC) was 1, whereas it had been 11 the previous night. It was obvious I was losing a battle to the infection. I was later informed that my T-cell count was very low. A normal reading would be between 450 and 1400, whereas a patient with full blown AIDS would be about 200. I came in at 9. At this point I became a very special patient. I had visits from urology, surgery, and ICU. I was just hoping they would admit me overnight for observation when I was informed that I would be admitted to the ICU. I had blood taken from an artery in my forearm for a blood test (they wanted it from the other side of the lungs), I received a port that fed directly into my heart (after a fair amount of bleeding when they put it in), and I had a catheter inserted. I then had another CT scan and was taken to my room in ICU.
The first night in ICU seemed to go fine. I received another IV that went in an artery in my hand that allowed them to see my oxygen level and blood pressure in real time. The ICU resident tried for quite some time to get the needle in and eventually one of the staff doctors took care of it. Their main concern was to get my blood pressure up to normal, and I soon was 90/50 or better. They gave me blood pressure medication directly into my heart on the port.
Shortly after the first night I begin to hallucinate and I do not remember most of what happened over the next few days, although I do remember the hallucinations very well. It turns out this is pretty common for those in ICU, and it is termed ‘ICU psychosis’. The hallucinations took on different forms. I could be fully awake and aware and see people in the room that weren’t there and that would only disappear if they were close enough for me to try to touch them to verify if they were real. Laura and I watched a movie, and I remember seeing a number of people in the room with us watching, and when I’d ask her about it, she’d tell me no one else was there. Later, if I closed my eyes I would see incredible animations. These were like watching an animated movie, as high quality as any Pixar movie, that would change every time I opened and then reclosed my eyes. They would contain all sorts of magical creatures and beings, with very creative motions and actions. I could at times somewhat control what I would see, and wherever I looked, the focus would head in that direction. There was no way to avoid them and get sleep; even if I zoomed into the ground of the animation, for example, the animation would continue underground in a new world. Meanwhile, in the real world I would try to get out of bed and remove my IV and catheter. They ended up restraining both of my wrists to the bed which caused me to have all sorts of dreams about being restrained. I don’t remember much of the next two days, but I do remember the dreams. One revolved around an idea that the hospital let all the patients out for a special retreat. On this retreat, random people would be handcuffed to one another so they could get to know one another. I was very unhappy with this arrangement and kept trying to remove the handcuffs, and I was constantly being told by the people running the retreat to leave them on. I also dreamt that I had a twin who was doing horrible things and had tricked my wife into thinking he was me. I was confused about whether I had actually done some of the things that had caused trouble for Laura and the girls. I was visiting a church where she had gone and everyone disliked me because of the things this person had done, and I was handcuffed to keep me from stealing things. Another dream involved a visit to some sort of museum in Hyde Park that had a ride indoors where you would lay in a boat that would move slowly across a sea while classical music played. Again, in this situation I was handcuffed to the boat, and not allowed to move about the museum freely. It turns out my sister had brought in a classical music CD thinking it would calm me down.
Eventually, I came out of the hallucinations as I started to improve, but at that point my breathing became very difficult. Since my kidneys had stopped working, I had a large buildup of acid in my blood. I also had wet lungs with diminished capacity because of all the fluids I had received. As my organs started to function, I had a huge amount of CO2 to remove, and I couldn’t keep up. I felt like I was drowning. To help me out, they first gave me oxygen in the nostrils, then a full mask, and finally a breathing assist machine similar to the CPAP machines for people who suffer from sleep apnea. If I didn’t get the breathing right I would start to get pretty panicky. I remember being frustrated because talking was too difficult, so I asked if I could write a note. I couldn’t even write a single legible word, my brain was just not working correctly. I asked the doctors if they would consider intubating me, which they luckily didn’t want to do. Within a day it got easier to breathe, and once that stabilized they released me to a regular room.
Once out of ICU, I thought I would be headed home shortly, but that wasn’t going to be the case. I consistenly spiked a fever of about 102 degrees several times a day. The diarrhea also would not let up. I was still receiving pretty heavy IV broad spectrum antibiotics, but the doctors began to be concerned when the fevers didn’t stop. They began testing me for everything they could think of, including Tuberculosis, AIDS, syphilis, fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasites. They were consistently taking blood cultures, sometimes multiple times per day, but nothing would grow in the cultures. Strange symptoms began to show up, such as a moon shaped red rash on one calf and severe peeling of the bottom of my feet. This brought out the dermatologists who looked me over and thought the rash was not in need of a biopsy and the peeling was normal for anyone undergoing toxic shock and severe fever. They told me that I had tested positive for strep and that was the cause of my infection. The infectious disease doctors said the strep positive result was not high enough and they didn’t believe it was accurate, so back to square one.
The inflamation in my gut seemed to be centered around the right side of my abdomen, and the doctors started to suspect Crohn’s disease. To confirm this, they ordered a sigmoidoscopy, which is essentially a minimal colonoscopy just going into the first third of the large intestine. The prep consisted of two enemas and no food for about 18 hours. The results showed no issues, so they ordered a full colonscopy the next day. The prep for a colonoscopy is to drink 3 liters of an awful salty liquid which causes you to completely empty your system. Sadistically, it’s called ‘Golytely’. Again, I didn’t eat for 18 hours. At that time, my hemoglobin had dropped enough that I had to take a blood transfusion before the colonoscopy, which ended up showing no signs of inflamation or Crohn’s. I was very relieved. The doctor then suspected some sort of rheumatological condition, but the rheumatologists didn’t feel any of the conditions, such as Adult Still’s disease, were possible because I wasn’t experiencing joint pain.
After the colonoscopy my diarrhea started to subside, and soon after my doctors took me off the IV antibiotics. At this point, my fever started to drop. I was about to be sent home when I tested positive for brucella, a bacteria that is found in wild animals, farm animals, and even dogs. Some strains can cause severe illness in humans and the symptoms matched many of the issues I had been experiencing. My liver counts were bad, and my liver was swollen. The gastroenterologists wanted to do a liver biopsy, but decided not to after the brucella positive result. I was held for a few more days so I could receive more antibiotics – Rifampin and Doxycyclene. A follow up test to the initial brucella test was negative, but the doctors wanted to try to be sure so they ordered a bone marrow biopsy as a parting gift. After that, I was sent home. I had been in the hospital for 20 days.
I began to recover quickly once I got home. I arrived home on the Thursday before Easter and was able to go to church on Easter morning. I started working from home that Monday, and two weeks later started commuting back to work. I had lost 14 pounds, and was feeling quite weak when arriving home. I could hardly make it around the block for a walk. Blood tests the first and second week after getting out were steadily improving. After the second week my doctor said no more follow up was needed, besides a CT scan to check for the progress of some nodules seen in my lungs. Three weeks later I could walk to the train, but still felt weak and tired easily. Within about three months I felt completely back to normal, except for a little morning arthritis in my ankles.
All follow up appointments revealed nothing new. To this day, there’s no definitive explanation of what happened. My doctor has told me that he suspects I had a normal viral infection, and then acquired a bacterial infection at the same time which quickly spiraled out of control. Apparently this happens more than I realized, even with today’s medicine. If your immune system is compromised and you get a second illness to deal with, even healthy people can quickly succumb to it and need help.
About a month after the experience my hair started falling out in chunks. It turns out this is totally normal for someone undergoing toxic shock, but the doctors had not warned me about this so it was a bit disturbing. My fingernails and toenails had developed lines on them from the point of the hospitalization that took 6-9 months to grow out. My dermatologist confirmed this was normal. Since then, I have not had a cold or a fever, I’ve gained all the weight back (and more) and began exercising more. I would say I’m in better shape now than I was a year ago.
One of the more interesting things that happened during this whole time was insight I got into why I would go through something like this. I have been memorizing Bible verses for about two years, and the verse that I had started working on the Tuesday that I started to get sick was 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I had not noticed this until a few weeks after I returned home and started working on my memorization again. I had so many people take care of me and comfort me during this experience – visiting me in the hospital, calling and texting me, bringing my family meals and food to me in the hospital, praying for me, and asking what they could do to help. It really revealed to me how little I have done for others who are suffering or in need of help, and I hope that going forward I will be able to repay others for their kindness and generosity. I think that as I have seen suffering in the past year, it has been much easier for me to sympathize with those who are going through illness or physical issues.
I have also realized how easy it is for things to change quickly. Our health is not guaranteed, we cannot take our time on earth or relationships for granted. I hope that I remember this and act accordingly going forward. While going through this experience was scary at the time, I never was truly frightened of dying. My faith in Christ reassures me that I will be with him when I die, forever. My biggest fear was leaving my family behind. There are times when I just forget about what happened last year, but every time I remember the experience I’m so grateful to have come through it and still be here with my family and friends.
|February 27, 2014||Posted by matt under homebrew|
I got this extract kit from my sister for Christmas, and finally got around to brewing it last weekend. She has cut back almost completely on gluten, so she figured this would be interesting. If I turn out to not like it, I’ll just give her the entire batch.
It has been fermenting away nicely for about 10 days, it smells great.
Gluten Free Ale (Brewers Best kit)
6.6 lb Sorghum (60 min)
8 oz. Maltodextrine (60 min)
1 lb. Golden Candi Syrup (15 min)
1 oz Cascade 60 min
0.5 oz Cascade 15 min
1/2 oz. Bitter Orange Peel 15 min
1 oz. Lemon Peel 15 min
1/4 oz Whirlfloc (Tab form) 15 min
0.5 oz Cascade 0 min
Windsor Danstar Yeast
Note: didn’t refrigerate yeast for some reason, but the yeast was obviously viable since we had fermentation activity at about 8 hours.
OG = 14.8 Brix, 1.060 (a bit higher than target of 1.054-1.058)
Chilled it maybe a bit too much using my wort chiller, after adding water was 62 degrees. Should have just gone to 80 degrees then added water. The water is very cold in Chicago this time of year, so cool down is quite fast.
Forgot to add yeast nutrients and Irish moss again.
I transferred this beer after two weeks in primary. It was a complete mess because the orange and lemon peel had rehydrated and was half floating on top of the wort. When I used the auto-siphon it got clogged immediately with the orange peel, and I could not get a continuous stream of wort out of the fermenter. I ended up pumping about 1/2 the 5 gallons through, which introduced quite a bit of air into the wort. We’ll see how this affects taste. I also didn’t get a refractometer reading since the beer had so many solids in it at the time.
|November 11, 2013||Posted by matt under Uncategorized|
I had a Pliny the Elder for the first time when Laura and I were out in California over Labor Day weekend, so I thought that would be a fun beer to try for a second all grain batch. It’s an Imperial IPA with a ton of hops, but very well balanced and smooth, not too bitter at all. I just had one pint, but felt like I could drink a few and not tire of it at all. It was one of the best tasting IPAs that I’ve ever had.
The recipe I used was originally from byo magazine, so not sure how close it is to the original. It is a lot of hops. This is the first time I’ve done a mash hop addition, and the recipe called for whole hops but my local store only had pellets, so I used them anyway. I just transferred this to a secondary fermenter last week and it is quite bitter, so I’m hoping it smoothes out a bit in the next month or so. I think I came in a little low on my OG (closer to 1.065) and so that may contribute to some of the bitterness.
Pliny the Elder (Russian River Brewing Company)
With assistance from Vinnie Cilurzo of the Russian River Brewing Company
OG = 1.074
FG = 1.014
IBU = 100+
SRM = 8
ABV = 8-8.5%
- 12.2 lbs 2-row malt
- .28 lbs crystal malt (45L)
- .86 lbs CaraPils malt
- 1.5 oz Chinook whole hops (mash hops)
- 1.0 lb dextrose (corn sugar)
- 2.75 oz Warrior hops (90 minute)
- 0.5 oz Chinook hops (90 minutes)
- 1.0 oz Simcoe (45 minutes)
- 1.0 oz Columbus (30 minutes)
- 1 tsp Irish moss (10 min)
- 2.25 oz Centennial (0 min)
- 1 oz Simcoe (0 min)
Dry Hop (14 days)
- 3.25 oz Columbus
- 1.75 oz Centennial
- 1.75 oz Simcoe
White Labs WPL001 (California Ale) yeast
|September 29, 2013||Posted by matt under Uncategorized|
I brewed my first all-grain batch on Saturday, and decided to go with a recipe for a simple beer that I had made before using liquid malt extract. One of my first beers was the Dry Irish Stout from Northern Brewer, and it was dead simple and turned out really well. I decided to make something similar, and based my recipe on their All Grain version of the same beer.
- 6-lbs. English Maris Otter
- 2-lbs Flaked Barley
- 1-lb English Roasted Barley
- 1.5-oz. Kent Goldings 60-min
- 0.5 oz Kent Goldings 15 min
-Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale Yeast. Apparent-attenuation:-71–75%. Flocculation: medium. Optimum-temp:-62°–72°-F.
Saccharification Rest: 152° F for 60 minutes
Mashout: 170° F for 10 minutes
As I expected, a first time doing an all-grain batch was a bit confusing and I messed up a number of things. I think that my calculations were correct for most things, but I had trouble getting my water to temperature on time. I didn’t realize how long it would take to get water to temperature in several situations. This resulted in my mash lasting an extra 10 minutes while I waited for my mash out water to hit temperature, then I didn’t measure correctly for my sparge water. I eventually got a full 6.5 gallons, though, and the beer definitely looks like a stout. At 8 hours, it’s happily bubbling away in the fermenter.
I calculated my efficiency at 34.7, which would be about 97%. That seems too good, I’m wondering if I ended up not getting a very good reading from my refractometer. I definitely should consider using the hydrometer in tandem next time.
|July 20, 2013||Posted by matt under homebrew|
Gumballhead is a very nice American Pale Wheat Ale brewed by Three Floyds. It is not a typical wheat beer, and is quite hoppy, using Amarillo Hops. This is hopefully my last extract recipe, as I hope to have an all-grain setup together in time for my next brew day.
Based on one of the recipes listed at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/gumballhead-clone-218312/.
Recipe Type: Extract
Yeast: White Labs California Ale WLP001
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: 1.054
Final Gravity: 1.010
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Tasting Notes: Excellent american hop flavor and aroma, with a full, smooth wheat body
Specialty Grains Steep for 20 min
1lb. White Wheat
5lb. Briess Wheat DME
.5oz Amarillo whole (9.8 AA, 60 min.)
.5oz Amarillo whole (9.8 AA, 15 min.)
.5oz Amarillo whole (9.8 AA, 5 min.)
.5oz Amarillo whole (9.8 AA, flameout)
1oz Amarillo pellet (9.8 AA, dry-hop)
1oz Simcoe whole (12.1 AA, dry-hop)
Brewed on 7/20/2013.
Measured OG of 1.055 on hydrometer at 80 degrees, corrected that’s 1.057, but got 1.049 from refractometer.
Transferred on 8/5/13 (a little over 2 weeks in primary)
FG 7% Brix 1.015 (4.47 abv with 1.049 og, 5.75 if at 1.055 og.)
Dry hopped on 8/11
FG 6.25 Brix 1.011, so the beer fermented just a bit more the last few weeks. This beer turned out really well, it was quite clear with an excellent head. Nice lacing on the glass. A nice hoppy smell, very drinkable with a smooth finish. Most bottles I’ve tried have been excellent, one did have a bit of an aftertaste, so I’ll blame it on the bottle. I need to do a better job of transferring, some hop leaves have made it into most bottles. Maybe I should get a filter for the autosiphon.
|July 20, 2013||Posted by matt under homebrew|
I have been homebrewing beer pretty regularly for the past two years. Like many hobbies, the number of gadgets and tools that can be added to the hobbyist’s setup are seemingly endless. I am planning on moving from brewing with extract (basically a syrup that is the sugars extracted from malted grains) to doing what’s called all-grain brewing (extracting the sugars from grain yourself). In order to do this, I’m going to need to purchase or build a number of different pieces of equipment. One of those is a wort chiller, a heat exchanger made from copper tubing that is used to remove heat from the boiled wort (or beer) by running cold water through the tubing in order to get it to a cooler temperature where yeast can be added. The yeast will in turn convert sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The benefit of using a wort chiller is it gets the wort down to a cooler temperature faster than using an ice bath, thus helping to avoid some complications that can happen such as contaminated beer or off flavors.
Wort chillers are available online or in homebrew stores, and cost about $60 for one made with 25′ of copper and about $80-90 for 50′ of copper. One reason they are so expensive is because copper is currently pretty pricey. I was able to find 50′ of 3/8″ tubing at Home Depot for about $43. I added two hose compression fittings for about $5 more, and was able to build mine for less than $50. I also bought a tube bending tool to avoid crimping the tubing and ruining my day. The tubing bender was about $7 at Lowes. These are just springs that are slipped over the tubing and help you to distribute the forces you apply to the tubing as you bend it and thus avoid crimping it.
As you can see, the tubing bender has one side with a larger opening that slips over the tubing.
I started with a straight run of about 2′, then began creating tight curls, moving the tubing bender down as I made my way through the coil. The original coil was about 2′ in diameter, the new curls are about 9″.
Eventually, I curled the bottom coil a bit tighter, then brought the end up through the middle and out to the top. I think that in theory, you want this end to be the supply side, bringing the cold water into the bottom of the coil and then working its way out the top.Last, I placed the two hose compression fittings onto the ends, and tightened them with an adjustable crescent wrench.
After some leak testing and a bit more tightening, I used this to cool the wort on a batch of beer from boiling to 100 degrees in about 10 minutes. Since I was doing an extract batch, I added cold water to the 2.5 gallons of wort in order to get it to the typical 74-78 degrees needed for pitching yeast. Once I go to all grain brewing, this chiller will need to bring the entire 5+ gallons of wort down to yeast pitching temperatures quickly, and I think it will do a fine job of it. My chiller will not win any beauty contests, but it seemed to be effective and saved me about $40. I still plan to use some zip ties or perhaps copper hose clamps to join the two upright ends of the chiller together to provide more stability to the entire apparatus.
|April 8, 2013||Posted by matt under home|
This blog post is long overdue since I see that I originally created it back in May of 2012. Doing a house renovation moves very quickly when the pros are involved, but when the work is up to us, it moves much slower. Our contractor was finished with their work in March, and got busy with our work to finish things off and move into the new spaces. We needed to paint, decorate, and purchase a few pieces of furniture.
On a late spring day last year, Laura took some pictures of the house, and while we’ve done a few things since then, this is basically what it looks like.
Starting with the outside, you can see the new dormers on the front. The one on the left is in the third bedroom. The one on the right is not in the room, but we added it for balance since one dormer looked way too small. The siding is Hardie Board, a concrete product. We have since painted the front door and shutters black.
The back of the house shows the family room on the bottom with the master bedroom on top. The entrance is on the side, with a small roof over the door. The air conditioner condensers (we now need two of them) are under the mudroom window. Again, this is all Hardie Board siding.
The family room now has space for a TV against the wall. The two windows are raised higher to provide some privacy and plenty of wall space. The two bookshelves were IKEA kitchen cabinets without doors that we had installed in the third bedroom before the renovation. The eating area accommodates our old table that seats six.
The kitchen was extended slightly, adding one wall cabinet and a peninsula for the base. There is a small eating area at the end where we eat most of our family meals. The door to the mudroom is to the left. The powder room and back door are off the mudroom.
The mudroom has some built in cubbies. We have boot storage beneath the cubbies, as well as a small bench. This has cut down on the number of boots and coats hanging around the rest of the house. It makes a huge difference in the winter, especially. Adding a mudroom was probably the best decision in the project.
The dining room is basically unchanged, but has a straight shot into the family room instead of step down like before. The floor contractor did a good job of blending the flooring between the new and old space, you can’t see any difference in color.
We have moved Audrey into our old bedroom from the upstairs room. We got a great bunk bed from some friends who moved overseas.
Lily’s room is unchanged, but she now has Audrey’s old bed, which gives her a lot more floor space.
The third bedroom was Audrey’s old room. It has a bit of a strange layout due to the dormer and a lack of contiguous wall space. Lily’s old bed is in there as a guest bed, and a small table is used for Laura’s sewing machine. We also have a larger closet for storage. In hindsight, we would have move the doors of the closet to provide more wall space for the bed.
Finally, the last room is our bedroom towards the back of the house. We have two windows to the east with the bed between them.
The south side has one window, and room for a chair between the doors for the bathroom and one of the closets.
There are two closets, which has been very nice. Laura setup her closet with some Elfa shelving.
Matt’s closet has some wardrobes in it that we had used in our old bedroom.
The master bathroom has a vanity, toilet, and a shower. We chose subway tile for the shower, with penny tile as a border and for the shower pan. We also decided to use a shower curtain for now, someday we may have a glass door installed.
After a full year in the updated house, we have really enjoyed the new space. We’ve enjoyed having people over, hosting a small group from our church weekly, and spending more time together as a family in the same space. We look forward to using the space for years to come.
If you live in the northern suburbs of Chicago and are looking for a contractor, we’d recommend our builder, Forest Glen Construction. They are a complete design and build business. Their subcontractors were very good, they finished on budget and on time, and there were very few surprises. The few issues that have come up since have been dealt with quickly and thoroughly. We chose them after strong recommendations from several friends, and they have done work on a few other houses in our neighborhood. We would recommend them to others looking to do a home remodel or even a smaller project. In fact, they are already finishing up a remodeling project for a neighbor who chose them after seeing them work on our place.
|January 1, 2013||Posted by matt under Uncategorized|
We have found this recipe to be awesome, and after serving this at a Northwestern bowl game watching party, I figured I needed to post it online where I could share it easily and find it in the future if I need it, since I only have it in the old copy of Cooking Light where it came from. Note I have removed all the low fat stuff and tiny amounts of cheese that they recommend, otherwise it wouldn’t be so good.
Tex-mex black bean dip
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 small chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small diced tomato
- 1/3 cup salsa
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of 1/2 lime
- Place beans in a bowl; partially mash until chunky and set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, saute until tender (about 10 minutes). Add beans, tomato, salsa, cumin, and chili powder. Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, stirr well. Serve warm with chips.