HOW I BUILT A GUITAR CASE RACK.

Kiri sometimes says I’m slightly obsessed with DIY as my answer to most problems is “I’ll build something” – I would admit to knowing my limits but I do like to try and do new things to see how hard they actually are, sometimes, very.

My latest project was to build a guitar stand that is safer for Nathanael (and his nosey little fingers) and of course SAFER FOR MY GUITARS!

guitar-case-rack-before

This is what I had before, an online purchased generic guitar stand that holds up to 5 guitars. I have 4; maybe I need to buy another to complete the stand, however I did have 6 at one point to which Kiri said: “you can only play one at once” and to my horror, she was right!

This is what I came up with.

guitar-case-rack-afterInstead of my guitar being out they will now stand secure in their cases (away from little fingers) and I have the additional storage for guitar pedal underneath.

This has also made extra space in other areas of the house where I had kept my cases – this space has now been commandeered by Kiri as space for shoes and other miscellaneous female things that men have no idea about.

It still needs to be painted but fatherhood calls…

guitar-case-rack

HOW I BUILT A BATHROOM MIRROR CUPBOARD.

The Bathroom Mirror, you know the one. The one that you can’t use when you get out of the shower as it’s steamed up and takes an age to de-mist. The mirror that has numerous finger prints on it, some of which probably aren’t even your own and the mirror that when you clean it, looks dirtier than before you cleaned it.

Our bathroom mirror is a square ‘flowery edged’ one (my wife choice – obviously) and has served us well for the sole purpose of looking in to. Not anymore! Kiri was having a reshuffle in the bathroom and discussed the possibility of a bathroom mirror cupboard, and by “discuss the possibility” she means – we need to get one…

But, there was a problem. Kiri really likes this mirror and proceeded to tell me this fact; this left me with a conundrum. However as my mantra with so many of these ‘problems’ that appear in marriage and owning a house, I declared; I CAN MAKE ONE USING THAT MIRROR AS THE DOOR!

After this declaration, I sat on it for a few weeks, i.e. I forgot, until Kiri ‘gently’ reminded me of my commitment to this DIY extravaganza.

This was the original mirror in our bathroom.

bathroom-mirror-cupboard-before

I got my trusty tape measure out and set about drawing up designs and concepts (probably a bit much) to how this cupboard would look. I brought the designs to the committee for sign off (Kiri) and got to work.

This is what I came up with.

bathroom-mirror-cupboard-after

I hope that this cupboard cost less than would cost to just buy one, probably not, however there is deep satisfaction knowing that I have made something that no one else has, to the specifications that Kiri would want. I say this cupboard is just for Kiri, but there is plenty of stuff stored in there that’s mine.

N.B. Taking photos of the mirror before and after, trying not to be in the reflection was quite a challenge.

bathroom-mirror-cupboard

 

PREPARING FOR DOUBLE FATHERHOOD.

Double Fatherhood, well that’s what I’m calling it – you may require some context. My wife and I are about to have our second child. You get a lot of ‘advice’ when you’re about to have another baby and they vary from both ends of the spectrum. From “It’s already crazy with 1 so it’s not that much harder with 2” to “it’s probably 4 times as hard with 2” to “your life is over”.

As I am ever the optimist!!? errr… As Toby Ziegler said on ‘The West Wing’ (what a show) “Happiness is my default position”. He was so sarcastic in the show – I relate to that quite well.

Any way back to my context for double fatherhood. I’m going to predict that having 2 children will be somewhere in-between all of the above advice. It will be a big change for the Smith camp and Kiri and I are trying to be as prepared as possible. DIY projects will be paused for a good 3 months, so I have (sort of) been given free rein to get as many completed as possible now.  Kiri has been working hard to get the meals planned in, as when Nathanael was first-born, eating meals went out the window so with 2 we know that’s going to be even more difficult.

As I prepare for double fatherhood here are a few optimistic guidelines I’m going to give myself:

1. An increase in grey hair and wrinkles – well I’ve got to blame something…

2. No time to myself for the next 18 years – maybe a slight over exaggeration

3. A chorus of “Daddy do it!” – one of Nathanael’s current favourite phrases which I’m sure my unborn child will come out saying.

4. “Daddy! Look! I did a wee wee” “Daddy! Look! baby did a wee wee!” Another phrase repeated at high volume at the moment.

5. Protecting my extremities from being attacked from all angles only this time their will be two attacking me and I only have one pair of hands.

Joking aside, I am looking forward to the challenge of 2. Kiri and I always knew when we had children it would be up to us and us alone to do the bringing up as family options are very limited, so the count down is on and I ask myself – how hard can it be!!

BRING ON THE CRAZY!

double-fatherhood

 

BANK HOLIDAY JOUSTING.

The summer Bank Holiday. In the UK that normally means rain – and it did! But the Monday came and the weather was kind and it was a glorious day in which we took the opportunity to go to a Medieval Joust at a local Castle in Bolsover – Predictably called Bolster Castle… However saying that there is a Castle call Leeds Castle in Kent which is quite some miles away from Leeds, Yorkshire – about 200 miles.

Anyway, we packed ourselves a picnic (which is one of Nathanael’s favourite things to eat) and headed off to Bolsover for the Joust.

Here are some snaps of our day.

bank-holiday-joust-01
bank-holiday-joust-02
bank-holiday-joust-03
Nathanael enjoyed watching the horses, after eating his picnic! He has his priorities. It was a great day, however I am feeling the effects of the sun… Toasty with a slight red hue!

bank-holiday-jousting

ATTIC STORAGE SOLUTIONS.

When we moved into our new house a couple of years ago the attic was a blank, un-boarded space, with only an access door. After a few months I installed a ladder and after about a year of living here I had a good day (or two) at boarding it out. I haven’t boarded it out completely; a) because there wasn’t much point as some of it is inaccessible, and b) because I don’t want it to become a place that becomes the dumping ground.

So I boarded out a middle section and in-between the eaves. This has been great for storing all Nathanael’s Baby things, Christmas Decorations and other items that are of occasional use – such as air beds.

Since Kiri and I have started to get the baby things down again in preparation for Mini Smith #2, I look at the attic going, I could do so much more to make it more usable so here are my top 3 things I’d like to do to the attic.

1. Install lighting
An obvious choice, at the moment there’s an uplighter in the attic and an extension lead for lengthy period up there while the phone touch is used most other times.

2. Shelving and Clothes Rails in the eaves
I’ve seen this on a popular pinning website where there is shelving attached to ‘V’ shaped eaves and that is what I want to aim for, to keep boxes off the floor or make things easier to get to/store away.

3. Carpet the floor
In a way, this is a good dust catcher but does also double up as additional insulation, albeit a thin layer.

attic-storage-solutions

WAYS TO GET A TODDLER INVOLVED IN DIY.

Nathanael loves DIY and as an enthusiast myself it only seems fitting that I try to include Nathanael in as much DIY jobs as possible – I use the phase DIY loosely as these jobs aren’t always DIY. Kiri and I bought Nate, last Christmas a little tool box that had a (very life-like) hammer, screwdriver and spanner, plus some extra bits – screws and bolts and the like. However this has fuelled his obsession even more. I spoke about how I keep my house tool box in the bottom of my wardrobe in my Essential Dad Items post the other month and when I’m doing anything around the house, my tools are far more superior than the ones we bought Nathanael and he walks around the room saying “hammer”, “Screwdriver”! while hammering and screwing anything in sight that has a bolt, nail or screw in it – pretty much every piece of furniture. WHAT HAVE I DONE!

Here are my 5 ways to get Nathanael (or any toddler for that matter) into DIY.

1. Be well prepared beforehand, never try anything overly dangerous when they’re around.
By this I mean, if you have any sawing to do, do that when they’re asleep so all you have to do is fix it together with them later so they can ‘help’, or so I told Kiri last time Nate and I went into the garage – no sawing happened then…..

2. Have a spare hammer or screwdriver around that they can use to feel a part of the action!
I have a multi-tip screwdriver that Nate seems to love and it’s his ‘go to’ tool whenever I’m doing anything around the house, this is a great win as I take the tip off and its fairly harmless.

3. Prepare to have them in your eye line of whatever you are doing.
Nate can get himself into the most awkward positions known to man, and wherever I need to be, that’s where he puts himself – but that does mean he gets the best view.

4. If you don’t mind a bit of mess, get them involved in painting.
Painting can be fun for them and there has been many a decorated room in our house.

5. Put screws and bolts for the item you are putting together in a bowl / box.
This really help them get involved, i.e. Nate, can you pass me the box of screws, etc.

These are a few of the things I’ve done to get Nathanael involved, if you want to share yours below, go for it.

toddler-diy

SUDDENLY MOMENTS.

You know that moment when you watch something happen and you can’t do a thing about it, and time seems to slow down. I had one of these a few weeks ago. I was emptying the dishwasher, putting some plates away and as I lifted up the smaller plates in the cupboard to put the larger ones underneath, one of Kiri’s ‘special’ plates slid off the top and on to the floor and smashed! There was nothing I could do, how was I meant to catch it without dropping several other plates in the process.

Then there was the mad panic to keep Nathanael away from the sharp edges as he runs into the kitchen mocking my achievements — “ooooow, ooooow” and pointing at my shame (slight exaggeration), but he did come in to see what I had done. I then had to confess to Kiri that I chose to save the ‘boring’ white plates over her cream flowery edged ones. The Horror!

I overheard a bible study that Kiri was listening to when I came downstairs after putting Nathanael to bed and something popped out to me as I was getting a drink from the kitchen. I don’t know who it was or what the study was about, this wasn’t his main point but it stood out to me. The premise about a particular passage that was being discussed that when the Bible writes ‘suddenly’ – something amazing is about the happen.

After hearing this I had to do some further research into this subject. In the bible there are so many Suddenly Moments. Here are four examples… I found loads:

Daniel 3:24-25
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames. But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”

Joshua 6:20
When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.

Acts 9:1-4
Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Mark 4:39
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

This led me to think of all the suddenly moments that I have had in my life and in my family that changed the circumstance or the current course which I was on. Jesus is in the business of suddenly moments, being a follower of Jesus is not dull, or boring, or mediocre; there are times when it is difficult (all the time – we are called to be different) but the suddenly moments when Jesus moves in your life in an incredible way and changes your viewpoint. There is so much literature (books, even devotionals) out there about being in a bad places and focusing on Jesus. But what about the good days, in those days I need Jesus just as much as the ‘bad’ seasons of my life.

I hope this post encourages us as followers of Jesus to push on for a ‘suddenly moment’. To focus on Jesus to make a difference in whatever situation you are in.

suddenly-moments

HOW I BUILT A BAY WINDOW DESK.

Another DIY project, this project was to make an office desk. A simple task, however I’m an awkward person who wants things ‘in their own place’ … the majority of the time anyway – I do have a toddler.

My home office is a small room, however it does have a bay window. Since moving into our current house at the end of 2013, I have had the furniture in the room, 1 or 2 different ways, OK, maybe 3 or 4 different ways. I had the same desk in our old house for when I was working from home and it fitted the space perfectly (I had measured and everything), however with the new house came new room sizes.

So I decided that I would maximise the space in the room and customise the desk into my bay window. Some bloggers on the web call it an ‘Ikea-hack’ as I bought the desk from Ikea.

bay-window-desk-beforeThis is the original desk – apologies for the photo, it’s no longer sold by Ikea.

After some sawing, some filler and using a vast array of screws this is what I came up with to use the space in the bay window. I also made a monitor table to sit on top of the window ledge. I opted to keep the desk black and used spray paint to cover it, needless to say I won’t be becoming a cool creative ‘Graffiti Artist’ anytime soon.

bay-window-desk-after

PHOTOSHOP VS FIREWORKS.

Ever since my early days of web/graphic design I have used Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Fireworks; I used Note Pad+ and Paint Shop Pro for a little before that.

**Disclaimer – other coding and design software is available and I’m sure these aren’t the best, but I like the functionality.**

I always heard from friends and people I know, who use Photoshop and say it’s SPLENDID, or some other adjective to describe it. I was always a Fireworks user, I thought it was simple but effective, which when it comes to occasional graphic design it hit the spot.

However, over the last year the things I have done require me to use Photoshop and fathom the wonders of what it can do. To my amazement, two programs (Fireworks and Photoshop) made by the same firm are very very different. Don’t get me wrong they do have many of the same features but they are not really in the same place.

I’m now starting to get the hang of it and I am using a lot more complex functions to create cool graphics etc. – well cool on my scale and knowledge but probably not on someone else’s.

Let me know which one you use in the comments below; maybe I should do a Twitter Poll or something – we are in an interactive day and age after all.

ps-vs-fw