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Blog — "projects"

Home Brew

Heidi Shenk "home brew" "projects"

No secret here that we tend to be beer snobs. Well, actually, we tend to be food, coffee, music, chocolate, and beer snobs. We just have such a hard time drinking beer that tastes like watered down something or other that's not even beer. Aside from the occasional Natty Boh (which is a Baltimore staple, so it's a fair excuse), you'll find us going for the more potent, flavorful, and artfully crafted varieties.

This past Christmas, Andrew's parents gave us a home brew kit. We had tried an English Bitter beer that they had given us a kit for and it turned out fairly well. However, it was a beer that you'd rather drink with food rather than have as a refreshing beverage on a hot Baltimore summer day. As our supply of the first beer dwindled, we decided to brew a second batch-- this time my favorite, an IPA. The process is a long one with a lot of waiting after actually brewing the beer, so at this point we're waiting on the final carbonation process that occurs after the beer has been bottled.

The process starts with a giant pot of very hot water, some grains in a bag, and finally the addition of malt and hops.

It ferments for almost a week after some yeast has been added, and looks something like this when it is ready to be bottled.
Super tasty looking, right? ;)

The next step is to add a priming sugar that starts the carbonation process and then siphon the beer into a new bucket in order to filter out all of that sludge. Finally, it is bottling time!



We've been thinking of a few names for this particular batch and then I'll be designing labels. We'll be waiting about one more week until the beer is ready to drink, so I'll try to update you all then.

Have any of you tried home brewing?

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Year of the House - Half Bath Update, Part 2

Heidi Shenk "home" "projects" "year of the house"

By now we should be done with our half bath, right? Wrong. Seems there was a little measurement issue that I may or may not have warned Andrew about. And that measurement issue may or may not have turned out to be as I had suspected. Thus, our toilet did not fit back into the half bath and was off by a quarter of an inch. Crap. (Did you think that pun was as funny as I did?)

There was also the small part about water leaking from the sink water hookups under our new cork floor. And the part about a fan air drying it for a 24 hour period. And so Andrew was back at square one, re-hooking up the sink, with not a minute left in the weekend to start worrying about moving the pipe for the toilet.

Now the sink is back in its place and we have been leak free for another 24 hour period of time.


Andrew is now busy fixing the piping under the toilet, so that we can finally move the toilet out of our living room and back to its proper location. First, he moved the drain collar over about 2 inches, which meant doing a little cork floor patch for the adjustment as well. This is what it looks like in the bathroom:


And this is what it looks like in the basement in our laundry room:


Yes. That is a gaping hole in the drywall that had to be opened in order to get everything back to working condition. So as I traipsed down to the basement to do some laundry the other night, I found Andrew sitting on the dryer with some PVC pipe in hand, getting some serious work done. And by serious work, I mean making a telescope out of PVC pipe.


Finally, after the fun was over, he got back to work. Lilah decided it was best if she stayed out of this mess this time around and opted to be lazy in her bed instead.


Hopefully all will be finished in the next few days so that we can finish up the rest of the original project, which was to install the horizontal wood panels. Here's to hoping that the next time I update you, the half bath is at least back in working condition with little left to be done!

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Year of the House - Half Bath Update

Heidi Shenk "home" "projects" "year of the house"

This past weekend Andrew worked away at installing maple panels in our half bath. Wood paneling doesn't always sound so lovely, but remember this post about our final goal to have a Frank Lloyd Wright bathroom? This is what we're going for. Not that old 70s wood paneling you're thinking about.

In order to get a clean, nail-less look, the first step in the process is to mount something on the studs called a z-clip (because it's shaped like a z).



After these lovely clips were installed, Andrew used a router to create a reveal that would show between each panel. Yes, he bought a ridiculously expensive router just to do this. (Cue in Tim the Tool Man Taylor grunts and sounds). And there's a back story about this router that I won't get into that may or may not have been the reasoning behind these flowers. But in order to spare him of anymore embarrassment, I'll leave it at that. Plus, I'm getting way off topic.

So next is to screw the other half of the z clip onto the back of the panel. Then the panel just locks into place. These clips are supposed to withhold some ridiculous amount of weight and help create a seamless look with no putty holes-- a definite bonus.



Two more rows of panels will be added along with a final cap on the top row. The next step will be to stain and finish the panels. Once all of that is done, the sink and toilet can go back in, freeing up space in our living room. Though as I've said before, the sink and toilet hanging out in our living room right now sure makes it looks classy.

And of course, none of this work would be getting done if it weren't for our stealthy contractor, Finn.


I've yet to witness it, but I've heard he's pretty handy with a hammer. What do you think of the progress thus far?

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Year of the House: One Step Closer...

Heidi Shenk "home" "projects" "year of the house"

Right now our studio/reading room is a bit messy while we work on getting rid of some things we've had in storage since we moved into our house. We're doing better than our last move. At our old apartment, we'd been there for a little over two years and had boxes that had yet to be opened. For now, we're one step closer to finishing this room as I work on transitioning my huge collection of paper, shipping supplies, and other such things into this empty half of our closet.


And see that lovely pile of crap in front of the closet. That's off to Goodwill. It feels amazing to purge the stuff that's been sitting around for a few years. In the meantime, remember this half bath project? Andrew has been diligently working away at this the whole weekend. Things seem to be going a bit more quickly today than yesterday and hopefully I'll have an update for you soon! In more important news, maybe the toilet and sink that have been sitting in our living room for the past six week will finally find themselves being reunited with their appropriate space.

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Year of the House Bathroom Floor Update

Heidi Shenk "home" "projects" "year of the house"

The time has come. The self-leveling underlay has been poured in the half bath and it is finally time to lay the cork flooring. A few update photos courtesy of Andrew who snapped away while he was working.




The flooring looks great! Now just to finish it and then get wood for the final piece of the project. I'm happy to announce that this is one home improvement project that has taken as quickly as I had hoped, unlike a project that started with "f" and ended with "ence." I prefer not to talk about that one in terms of the project anymore, but only in terms of outdoor enjoyment factor if you know what I mean.

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