Chris' Tool Obsession: Revisiting Channellocks

Channellocks recently came out with a new line of upgraded tools called the e-series and, since they know I'm a huge fan, they sent me two to try out. Yay!

I also bought a pair of the welding tool Channellocks since my last tool obsession post

I've gotten into GMAW (MIG) welding recently and given up on the old arc welder. The Channellocks 360 have provided another welcome addition to my Channellocks lineup. They are good for removing the nozzle, cleaning up the tip, cutting the wire, and other welding specific tasks.

One of the two that was sent to me is the E338 which is an upgrade to the 338.

The major upgrade over the non e-series pliers is the location of the rivet which allows for greater cutting leverage.

With the 338s, though, they also made the handles longer on the e-series version. This allows for not only greater leverage, but also a greater reach inside electrical boxes, for example. As a result, the E338 is now in my electrical toolbox instead of the 338. Honestly, this extra length is probably worth the cost of replacement for people who are obsessed with getting the most out of their tools. And, if you're someone who has several Channellocks like me, you're probably one of those people.

The other plier they sent me from the e-series was the E318. It's basically an elongated needle nose plier.

It has side cutters and a long nose for access to tight locations or holding small items. There aren't many instances where I've needed pliers longer than my needlenose (326), but you never know. If I didn't already have the 3037 then I'd probably get the E318 instead. The 3037 was another addition to my arsenal since my last post on my Channellocks addiction, er obsession. The 3037 has a thinner nose, but no side cutters so it probably is a wash on overall utility for a reasonable person. But, I'm a crazy person who needs the perfect tool for every possible situation.

*And just a side note, although Channellocks did send us the E338 and E318 for free, they in no way influenced my opinion of the tools, all opinions here are my own.


Welp, Let's Just Work on the Hallway Now Too

This is the current state of our front room

Shit everywhere.

A huge reason why we decided to finally get started on the laundry room was because we realized we needed more storage. We have piles of stuff that has nowhere to go because currently the only 2 closets that are in use (or, more accurately, usable) are our bedroom closet (which is full of clothes) and our awkward closet (which is basically full of diapers). We need things to have a place to go and at the moment there are no places. Well, we have the hallway closet, but it's not being used a very space efficient way

It would be nice to have our games, rags, wrapping paper, etc. put away in a clean, organized manner. Plus, we've got frequently used baby items always out and about that we'd like to have a place to go when they're not being used - while also being close at hand so we can grab them quickly (carriers, swaddles, etc.). So we decided it was time to tackle another project: organizing the large hallway closet.

The easiest part was clearing it out (it took about 5 minutes). But because the plaster in here is abhorrent and they did some strange patching jobs we knew we'd have a decent amount that needed to be demo'd and repaired

After things got removed we were left with this gorgeous blank canvas

Clearly this space needs some love. The first bit of love was patching where the plaster was gone

After Chris did a really rough patch of both those holes in the plaster, he worked on doing a skim coat over the entire space (many years of various work done on the closet had resulted in holes, cracks, unevenness, etc.)

Chris did discover a strange bit of wallpaper on the left side of the closet that we didn't ever know about and he only realized was wallpaper once he started the skim coat because the moisture in the joint compound caused it to peel away

Doesn't this closet look glorious?

Well, it will be glorious someday soon :)

To organize the closet we decided to go with a standard system like we did in our awkward closet. It's cost effective, easy and looks clean. The idea is to split the closet into thirds. The first third will just be simple shelves. This provides the most versatility - various containers can be stacked on top, we can put folded things on the shelves, etc. The middle third will be a closet rod to hang coats because we don't really have a coat closet. The last third will be baskets and shelves. The basket system that comes with the ClosetMaid standard set comes with a shelf on top of each pull out basket. Baskets will be good to toss Zoe's swaddles and carriers and extra shelves are always appreciated. Across the entire top will be one long shelf.

Lots of storage, right? I'm so excited, bah!

The big question was what we were going to do about the doors. I hate bifold doors, accordion ones are ugly and sliding ones always feel so impractical because you can't access the entire closet because there is always a portion of the closet that two doors are overlapping in front of. We sorted through several ideas, but finally landed on a curtain. Sure, it might look messy to some or maybe unfinished, but for us it's a practical solution. I love fabric and I think it's a nice was to add texture and spunk to a space. Plus, it's simple and cheap and I really can't complain about that :)

I love looking for fabric so I jumped at the opportunity to look online for fabric. I found several I liked and Chris and I looked through them together.

We thought about using this one (found here) for our bedroom closet curtain as well

Richloom Kronos Slub Teal

I've thought this pattern was awesome for several months and have always had my eye on it

Premier Prints Suzani Twill Powder Blue

I like this one a lot, but I thought it might be too simple with just two colors

Amy Butler Cameo Forget Me Not Sugar

I really like how bold this one was

Ty Pennington Impressions 2012 Venice Event Gray/White

But ultimately we decided on this one

Ty Pennington Impressions 2012 Maya Event White/Grey

We liked that there was enough contrast between the white/gray and shades of blue, turquoise and green. I always like geometric patterns and this one is bright, fun and plenty colorful.

It's great to start working on this space to make it more efficient and help clear out the front room. Plus, it's an item that's on our 2013 to do list, and you know I'm going to love checking another item off our list :)


Good Bye "Maternity Leave"

Maternity leave is in quotations in the title of this post because that was sort of a foreign concept to me...

I've always been someone who has a hard time taking time off. I blame it on my parents :) All 4 are very active people and from a very young age my brother, step brother and I were always involved in lots of activities - sports, summer camp, clubs, etc. As a result, I don't really like sitting down. I don't like not having things to do. Then Chris and I found each other and our constant need/desire to check things off our lists sort of just eggs each other on and fuels the beast.

When we got pregnant I wondered how a baby would change that. And I wondered how I would acclimate to taking care of our little one while also working from home at the same time

Enter the day we went to the hospital. I was doing billable work only a couple hours before we left. We came home with our little lady the Saturday night following the Thursday she was born I was at the computer (granted for a very short time) on Monday doing billable work. A couple days after that I was helping Chris on the house. We were both getting lots of cuddles in and bonding with Zoe, but the desire to work never really ever leaves us. I don't really know what it is.

I had intended to take time off of work and off of the house, but I found that if I went the entire day and didn't work on either that I felt kind of weird. The feelings of being a new mom while also trying to maintain who I was before I was a mom were hard to get used to at first. I felt a lot of pressure from myself to still get a lot done, and I felt a lot of pressure from myself to be the best mom I could be. For me, being a mom meant also working pretty much from the start of Zoe being born. And part of me has felt guilty about that

Did having a desire to still work on our house and work at my paying jobs so soon after she was born make me a bad mom? Of course much of my days are spent feeding, bonding, playing and cuddling Zoe, but I still want to make sure I take time our to do the things that I identify with as being a part of me. I am a mom now and I love holding her, seeing her smile, bonding with her and getting so excited about the fact that I can see her learn and develop each and every day. But there is also a part of me that finds happiness in working on our house and doing day job work.

Of course I am incredibly lucky to be able to do so much of my work from home. I am able to be with her each day, be her primary caretaker and still get work on the house done and make money. Yesterday was the first day I went to work without her: I went back to work at the A's. It's been a challenge learning to pump (and I say learning because every day is a new challenge with that machine and trying to get the most out of your boob as possible, especially considering at some feedings she eats 6 ounces), and I was very sad to leave her. But I was also was excited to see my co-workers again, get paid to watch baseball and also have an identity outside of our house. I am so lucky that I don't have to be away from her 8am - 6pm Monday - Friday and that when I'm at work at the A's Chris is home to take care of her so she always has some good old fashioned parent loving

It's a constant balance - being a mom, working, renovating and doing all the other things I feel like define me. I was afraid how it was all going to shake out and every single day is a new learning experience. Soon I'll be driving down to San Jose once a week for meetings with my brother with Zoe in tow and I wonder how she'll do in the car for that long or if she'll fuss when my brother and I talk about bookkeeping, a property he owns or a project he needs me to tackle. Zoe will always keep me on my toes. But I like that. She's my little buddy. Every day I learn something new and getting to be a working mom while also getting to take care of her is something I know I'm very lucky to get to do. She's a good painter, a good bookkeeper, a good graphic designer, and definitely a good A's fan

They only allow you to dress them up with no objections for a very limited time, I need to take advantage of this obviously...


2,400 Reasons We Met at Tower Records

This wall in our laundry room used to be full of CDs

And when we got to working on the laundry room we moved the CDs bookcases out of the room so that we could work on the floor, skim coat and paint, etc. As we were moving them out of the room we noticed that they were breaking down a bit. Chris built these 10+ years ago when he didn't have nearly as many tools or know-how and they're starting to show they're age. We didn't want to get rid of them, but we didn't know how much longer they'd hold up - especially considering the weight of 100's of CDs is not to be taken lightly. We decided that again we'd go with a standard system on the wall to put our CDs back. It'll be a good system for us now and any future homeowner can adjust the shelves and brackets how they see fit to create storage that better suites their needs. We didn't want to discard the bookcases though so we'll save the good wood and use it to build something else down the line. Everybody wins.

The first standards went on with a laser level

The blue tape marked off where the studs were so Chris could figure out where to hang the other 3 standards

Hi Zoe! :)

Then the other 3 standards went up

With the standards in we could start ripping down the shelves to the correct size (6.5" - we wish we could have made them a bit smaller, but that's the smallest brackets HD had)

And after all the shelves went in Chris started filling them up

Naturally, like any OCD freaks we have our CDs organized by genre and then alphabetical. We did work at Tower after all :) And after just a little bit of restacking all the CDs were in place

Yup, that's a lot o' CDs. Chris has transferred them all to his computer and onto an MP3 player as well, but we're still people who like to have the physical CD and listen to the whole thing - rather than just buying singles on iTunes. Again, we did meet at Tower.

It wasn't as cheap to go with the standards system (over $250 with all the brackets and shelves), but I think it looks really clean and nice

And there, my friends, are the 2,400 reasons we met at Tower Records. 


Cabinets and Bikes Go In

Now that the walls are skimcoated, texured, painted and the baseboards are in, it's finally time to get to installing the cabinets we bought over a month ago. The awesome thing is that because we'd already put them together Chris just carried them into the room and screwed them together in 3 spots and into the wall in 2

With the cabinets in, now it was my turn: organizing :)

I was carrying Zoe around in her carrier which made it a little hard to carry things from the front room into the laundry room to be organized, so Chris brought them into me and I got to work

We've still got a wall of cabinets to build on another wall in the laundry room (Phase 2), and on that wall of cabinets we'll put cleaning supplies. These 2 cabinets are small and so I decided they'd just keep our rags, first aid, moving blankets (that we use when we deliver furniture/cabinets we build for people) and our earthquake preparedness kit

I was actually fairly surprised at how much I was able to fit in those two small cabinets. Success!

Once the cabinets were installed we moved on to getting our bikes in here. Our bikes have been stored in the front room until now (I know, classy) and we figured it was about time to move them to a proper storage spot. We didn't want to leave them outside because they'd get all fucked up and we certainly don't have enough room to keep them in the garage. I had the idea to have them hang from the ceiling in the laundry room a few months ago, but we wouldn't really know if we had enough room until the cabinets went in

Once we were pretty sure about the placement Chris went into the attic to install some blocking for our bike hooks to go into

Once the blocking was in the bike hooks got installed easy peasy and the bikes went up

Oh, and hello Zoe

We're nearing the finish line in here, which is amazingly exciting. We just have to bring the CDs back in and do some finishing touches. We've held off of working in here for so long and it's nice that it's actually moving along at a great pace. It makes me not as terrified to work on the rest of the room later this year (or most like next year...)


That Door Sucks

Completing all the painting in the laundry room involved one really annoying task: painting the door to Chris' office

I think you can guess why this task sucks: there are 15 lites. Yeahhh, not fun. And because this door is a really ugly brown/red color it involves 5 coats of paint to get the job done: 3 of primer and 2 color coats. Ugh.

Out came the primer and I got here and was reminded very quickly about why I had put this job off of some time

THAT took me almost 20 minutes. Yes, that's right. Those stupid muntins were a fucking bitch. I could have taped it off, but taping would have taken forever and the windows are super glossy and tape doesn't stick to them well. I could not worry about smearing paint all over the place and scrape it off later, but I did that on another 15 lite door we have and scrapping took fucking forever and was completely obnoxious, so I didn't want to do that again. I was pretty much shit out of luck for not making this project annoying. I decided to get out a craft brush for the small parts. I used a standard Purdy brush to get this done

And then a small craft brush for all the muntins

Then I spent 3 days painting on lots of layers of paint. Like I said before - 3 coats of primer and 2 color coats. My god it was so annoying. I just strapped Zoe into her carrier, turned on some music and hoped that Zoe didn't get as bored as I did and start crying. I sure as hell wanted to cry. But about 5 hours of my life later the door looks A LOT better.

Here's the before to remind you

And the after

I hated painting that damn door, but it sure looks pretty now. No more gross brown, hooray! Now it just needs a pretty knob. And I could do without those yellow panes of glass, but some things are just better left alone.