Sunday, June 7, 2015


It was our wedding anniversary this past weekend, 11 years already. Time has sped by and yet preparing for our wedding day seems like a lifetime ago. It has been 11 wonderful years together, and we look forward what adventures lay ahead.

We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, McGuire's in Destin and walked the beach. We vowed to walk the beach more in the future, we don't do it nearly enough.


Replacing our heating and cooling system in our house has been on the list since we bought the place just over 2 years ago. Old and inefficient, it gets quite costly to run in the summer and any cold snaps. We had gotten complacent with it, with the attitude. "well it is still running, let it be". Until last week when it was obvious the house temperature creeped up and the AC could not bring it down. Curse our complacency! We called a company to come out and give us a quote on a new system, as we were not interested in repairing. Parts of our system is 30 years old and the other parts are 20. At first we were interested in participating in our electric utility's rebate program on installing a new high-efficiency unit. When the service guys started doing the baseline test on our old system, it was failing to complete it without doing couple hundred dollars in repairs to get it functioning well enough in the baseline test for the rebate program. Which in the long run, the repair would wipe our any rebate savings we would have gotten with a new system.

We went with a 14 SEER rated unit. The service guy told us our old system probably operated at a 7, when it was in its prime. Even though it is a expensive purchase, it is well worth it for peace of mind and energy savings. It is also a lot quieter too. We probably should have done this sooner. I am actually looking forward to the energy bill when it comes again, to see what our average usage will be going forward. So far, by checking our energy consumption online by day since we replaced it, its dropped quite a bit, roughly 45%. I am glad it perished now, instead while we were out of town or July/August in the peak of the summer heat. We had a few sticky days around the house before we got our replacement, but it could have been a lot worse. Our cats even liked laying in the fan breeze while we were without AC.

It feels good to mark this big item off the master to-do list for the house. Although we had no DIY at all with it, it is a big milestone for getting the house complete.

That cinder block wall behind the tree is a project Zachary is in the middle of, a short wall and garden gate to the backyard, that spans the gap between our house and the neighbor's fence. More on that later.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Zachary and I went mini-golfing at Hidden Lagoon in PCB on a recent steamy day. Summer weather is here now and its always be sweaty time till October. Thankfully the constant Gulf breeze keeps the air moving.

Surprisingly I had a early lead and maintained it over Zachary. But it vanished on the 18th hole, with my 7 strokes... Zachary nearly got the $50 prize for a hole in one on the 18th, but narrowly missed the cup. I think we'll be back again soon for a rematch, it was a nice course and they have 2 courses.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Florida Softshell

We had an uncommon for our yard visitor the other day, a Florida Softshell turtle. I have seen them before in PCB, but down at St. Andrews State Park. I am guessing she is a she, as the females are larger than males and she was quite large for a softshell. We've had many turtles nesting in our yard this spring, having sandy ground and being close to the creek. We don't mind, they don't disturb much. Most of our turtle visitors are Box Turtles. She is our biggest reptile to visit us yet. I hope it stays that way. :-)

My, what long neck you have.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Closet and Trim

Besides building a tea box, Zachary has been circling back on a few unfinished projects. Our hallway has been lacking trim since we moved in. Again using up the reclaimed cedar from the old carsiding, he milled baseboard, crown molding and door casings for the hallway.

After staining, he gave it 4 coats of polyurethane for a nice hard finish.

While working in the hallway, it was time to deal with the neglected hall closet. This was the last colset in the house to have that annoying wire shelving. The hall closet is the hub for the house's internet, media and sound system. While we don't have all the electronics in place, we needed a clean breathable space for them. The second part of the closet needs to function as a closet, storing cleaning supplies, cat food and the vacuum.

The closet ceiling is also the access to the attic.

So Zachary patched the screw holes and painted the closet to match the hallway. The top 2 shelves will serve the home electronics. The pull out cabinets and bottom shelf is for storage.

He rebuilt the ceiling access to the attic in cedar, so it is not as crummy looking as before.

Zachary built the cabinet and pull out drawers out of the cedar as well.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tea Box

The sawdust and wood shavings have been pouring out of the garage lately and one of the by-products was a tea box for me. I was scouting Amazon for a container for all my tea bags and realized Zachary could build me something well made and have it before I could say free 2-day prime shipping.

I gave him a tea packet for sizing. Using some scraps of cedar wood, he cut, planed and glued up a 8 compartment box in no time.

The cubby where my tea, cookbooks, vitamins, and general junk lived before.

Much better. Until we get around to getting a microwave, it will be the tea making and recipe cubby.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Table Saw Enhancement

Before we moved to Florida, Zachary had a pretty nice large Crasftman table saw. While we were downsizing the household for the big cross country move, that and a few other large shop tools didn't make the cut. It was sad at the time, but it was the most practical at the moment. We didn't know what we would be doing once we were in Florida, let alone where to keep it all. 

Present day, the shop tool collection is growing again. Zachary's job is remodeling our house, in hopes of making a good investment return in a couple years. While he misses the large shop tools he once had, he still doesn't have the space for it all. We hope our next house will have a proper large shop space for Zachary's tools and creations, but in the meantime he is making the best out of what we have. Sometimes restrictions brings out creative ingenuity.

Shortly after we bought this house, we also bought a small portable table saw for projects. It does the job, but not well. Small work surface, uneven cuts, etc. Inspired by a few creative woodworkers on YouTube, Zachary set out to enhance his table saw.

He disassembled the table saw, removing the motor and mechanism out of the body.

Using a table top from a old cabinet, he cut out a space for the blade to come out of the new work top surface. You can see the old cabinet in the picture above. We got 2 of these cabinets for free from a large local resort that was remodeling their guest rooms. The tops are maple, great for making a solid work surface.

Then he built legs for his top.

It took some fiddling to get the saw mechanisms to work correctly in the new housing. After a while, the movement of the saw settings were moving smoother than they ever did in the original saw body.

It lives!

He put wheels on it, so it can easily be moved around the garage and driveway. The driveway is often an extension of the small garage as a work area, so that was essential. While he still would like a nice large table saw again one day, this enhanced table saw is a far improvement to what he had for not much investment and a little time & patience. He will be adding miter slots to the top and a cutting fence.