Monday, December 26, 2022

Chicken Coop - DIY or Premade Kit?

Have you been to the grocery store lately? Have you seen the price of eggs? Have you been able to find eggs? Just this week my local grocery store had only the "cheap", bottom shelf eggs, and they are now $8 per dozen. 

Thankfully the city in which I live just recently passed a chicken ordinance that now allows chickens. Unfortunately it takes some time to raise chickens from chicks to egg laying age. But fortunately I have been planning for this for some time, so my chicken farming days are already in the works. 

Let me back up a little bit. As my

Saturday, November 26, 2022

DIY Tree Collar from Scrap

I love Christmas! I love decorating. I love putting up lights. I love the joy of the season. I often go over the top, but at this point in my life, that is just expected by the people around me. 

We recently got a puppy. After we decorated the inside of our house for Christmas, one of the last things that we did was put the tree skirt around our tree. Within minutes the tree skirt had a puppy pee spot on it. So we took the tree skirt off, washed it, dried it, and hung it outside to air it out. We put the tree skirt back around the tree, and, I kid you not, hadn't even gotten it around the tree before there was a new puppy pee spot. 

So we decided that this would be the year to put a tree collar around the tree instead of a tree skirt (note: I find it kind of ridiculous that we have so many names of things that go around the bottom of trees that we decorate our houses with, but apparently that's where we are. For those of you not familiar, a tree skirt is a cloth that goes around the base of a Christmas tree, while a tree collar is a rigid barrier.)

I wouldn't pee on 
the tree skirt...

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

How to Seed a Pomegranate in Under Two Minutes

One of the most prolific fruit trees in my yard is our pomegranate tree. We've had our tree for a few years, and this year, finally, we got a bumper crop. Once I got the first ripe fruit, though, I realized how much I hate pomegranates. Not because I dislike the fruit, but because I dislike getting the edible part out.

If you've never seeded a pomegranate, let me explain what it's like. Imagine 1,000 tiny grapes all superglued to tissue paper, tightly packed in a leather ball.

I spent years trying to find the best way to seed them, reading all the infinite wisdom that the internet has to offer on the subject.

"Break them up submersed in water and all of the inedible parts float, while the seeds sink." Nope. The inedible parts sink as well, and—45 minutes of seed-removal later—half of the seeds go down the drain with the water.

"Roll the pomegranate with the ends cut off, pulling out the seeds as they loosen." Insane. This creates a mess and most of the seeds end up bursting on your fingers. And 45 minutes later you're trying to scrub the red stains off your counter.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Upcycled Stained Glass Bicycle Wheel

 In 2014 I got together with some friends and learned to do some basic stained glass. Two years after that I started a big stained glass project that culminated in 2017 with the installation of an 8-panel stained glass piece ( Since then I have dabbled in stained glass, doing little projects as an artistic stress relief. 

Fast forward to the COVID years, and stress levels were high. So amidst the other things that help me find balance (woodworking, gardening, DIY projects, home improvement). This past spring I decided to start another stained glass project, and figured my garden could use a little color. My inspiration was something my mom sent me years ago as a possible project, and it has been living in my brain for all these years. 

I started by obtaining an old bicycle. I took the front wheel and the fork off. After stripping the wheel of reflectors, the tube and the tire, and after cleaning up the wheel, I had the base for my project. The plan was to put glass pieces in the triangular sections of

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

An Amazing Fall Beverage

I love fall. I love fall because Arizona is so hot during the summer, and fall is the sign of many months of wonderful weather. During the summer in Arizona, I can walk out of the house at five in the morning and the temperature is already 90 degrees. Hope comes on that first day of fall when I walk out of the house and am hit with air that is cooler than the air in our house. That is always my favorite day of the season. And while that day is not quite here yet, I know it is just around the corner. 

And now I have a new fall experience that I would like to share with the world. The other night my wife and I were sitting on the couch after we got the kids down. We each had an adult beverage - she had a hard cider, and I had a delicious pumpkin beer. We each took a couple of sips, and then we had the epiphany. And by "we" I mean my wife. We looked at each other, looked at the beverages, and my wife said what we were both thinking, "What if we mixed these?" GENIUS! I am married to a genius!

So here is the Renaissance Dad's Fall beverage - equal parts pumpkin beer and hard cider. This is such an amazing beverage, and I am here and now claiming naming rights to this deliciousness. However, I now need help from my readers. What should this beverage be called? Apple Jacks? Apple Spice? Pumpkin Pie? Apple and Tan? Let the naming suggestions begin.

Here's to the hope of fall weather, and the beverages that help us along!

Monday, July 4, 2022

Repairing Gaps in Laminate Flooring

 From 2017 to 2018 my family and I worked the floors in our entire house. Over the course of nine months, every square inch of our interior floors was replaced. It was an exhausting project, but one of the most beneficial projects that we have done to date (in case you missed it, you can see our before and after photos here). 

I love our floors, although there are definitely times when I think about replacing them, upgrading them, or completing the new project when these floors wear out, which will hopefully be in a long time. 

A few months ago I noticed some separating, some gaps, between a few of the boards at the top of the stairs. I am almost certain that there is no way it was an installation error. And I really don't see a way that our kids running around the house like drunken monkeys could be the cause for boards to

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Easy Ginger Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

I don't know why ginger and peach make such an amazing couple. It's like Fred and Wilma, Bonnie and Clyde, yin and yang, or lemon and lime. Actually, it's not like any of those things, but it is pretty good.

So this brainchild came up as I was looking for a quick, tasty snack to have one evening. It is a simple, two ingredient treat - Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Cookies (two sizes available), and Tillamook Peaches & Cream ice cream.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Planting a Garden for Polinators

All of my garden beds are mostly fruits and vegetables. I went nuts this spring and planted 19 tomato plants; we are on the brink of eating gazpacho for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We have cucumbers, melons, peppers, and herbs. 

But last fall my 11 year old helped me pick out some flowers to intersperse around the veggies, and she really appreciated the look (she's into the aesthetics of things). I did as well. It added color, attracted bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and just made gardening that much more enjoyable. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Whoops! Nine Steps to Fixing a Hole in Drywall

 Has this ever happened to you? 

Two of your kids are running around the house, totally hyped up on child-like energy, playing whatever game makes sense in their heads. Then one of them tries to close the door, the other one pushes against it, and like two gladiators covered in dust and sweat, they push and push. And the one on the inside of the door decides to step back and let the door fly open, defying the springy door stop to catch the door and causing the door knob to tap the drywall with enough force to create diamonds out of coal. 

No? It's just me? 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Building on to an Existing Bookcase

 When my family and I moved nine years ago, we had several friends help us with the move. A few of my friends commented on the number of books that we owned, especially when the books had to go up the stairs to the top-of-the-stairs bookcase. That bookcase quickly became overcrowded with additional books, and our bookcase became too small. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Expanding the Orchard

Remember in Back to the Future when Doc was talking about Old Man Peabody having a crazy dream of breeding pine trees? While the breeding trees part is a little weird, it's kind of like my dream, except instead of pine trees, I have a dream of having fruit trees as far as the eye can see. 

I have written before about cutting down oleanders annually to add fruit trees. I started with 11 oleanders in my backyard, and to date have removed seven of them - only four more to go. Each on has been replaced with some sort of fruit producing tree or bush. This past month was no exception. 

In the fall, I placed an order for some fruit trees through The Urban Farm. This is a wonderful resource for anybody looking to expand their backyard garden, but it is especially beneficial for those who live in the Phoenix-area, as they have an annual fruit tree event where you can buy trees and bushes grown specifically for the Phoenix climate. The one drawback is that the trees are quite affordable, so I ended up buying more than I was ready to plant. This meant that I had to spend extra time preparing the spaces, expanding the irrigation system, and getting the soil ready for my trees. But I also learned a lot from The Urban Farm about feeding my trees, taking care of them, and helping them thrive in the climate I'm in.