Tag: Noah

 Gutter Shelves for Ten Bucks

My son has a loft bed and he is in the habit of keeping all of the books he is reading on his bed so he doesn’t have to climb up and down the ladder. Over time, the books accumulate to the point where there’s barely room left for him. So we were looking for a way to get his books off of his bed and onto the wall, but because space is limited, there isn’t room for a conventional book shelf up there. So I went looking for a solution.

A few years back no one had ever heard of gutter shelves. Then some clever person realized that they could put their kid’s books on a wall in such a way that would make it easy for them to see all of their books at once, and now gutter shelves are everywhere. The problem with them, as some other bloggers have pointed out, is that while they sound like a cheap alternative to shelving, all that hardware is actually pretty expensive.

allen_roth_shelfYou know what else is expensive? This shelf that they sell at Lowes. Are they kidding with that? It’s only three and a half feet long, and it cost $45! That’s nuts. We really liked the look of it, though, and it would serve our purposes well since it doesn’t stick off the wall very far. I’m pretty handy, so I figured I could come up with something that looked and worked the same, but was much cheaper. Which is why I’m going to show you how I built a very similar shelf, twice as long, for about ten bucks (twelve actually).

You will need some tools, and some skills with a miter saw. You will also need some glue and some screws. Assuming you have all of that, here is the material:

  1. An 8-ft furring strip – $0.92
  2. An 8-ft piece of MDF Crown Moulding – $10.80

The MDF moulding might be a bit warped, but that shouldn’t matter. Make sure you get a furring strip that is straight – they are usually very warped, so you might have to hunt through the pile to find a straight one. The moulding will follow the contour of the furring strip, so if it isn’t straight, your shelf won’t be either.

DSC_8357DSC_8359Decide how long you want your shelf to be – you will need about a foot of the moulding to cut the ends from, so the maximum shelf length is about 7 feet. I made mine about 65 inches. I mitered the ends of the long piece, then cut end pieces to give it a clean finished look. I glued these end pieces with wood glue, and used masking tape to hold them in place while the glue dried.

DSC_8354DSC_8365DSC_8367Next I mounted the furring strip to the wall to form a cleat that I could attach the moulding to. Even though this shelf won’t be supporting a lot of weight, I marked the studs and attached the cleat using screws because I avoid drywall anchors whenever I can. Because I didn’t want to move the bed, I used this trick with duct tape to catch all of the dust from drilling – then I carefully peel the tape off the wall and roll it up trapping the dust inside! No clean up afterwards! I put a screw in one end and then leveled the cleat and put the other screws in.

DSC_8378DSC_8380Once the cleat was mounted, I just put the moulding up against it, and put a few screws through it into the cleat to hold it in place. You can also countersink the screws, putty the holes, and paint them, if you are really ambitious. The cleat and the moulding form a nice groove that will hold most books (you know, unless your kid is reading Atlas Shrugged or something). That’s it! Okay, it’s not actually a gutter shelf, but I think it looks a lot better and it doesn’t cost as much.

 Coming ‘Round The Mountain

I’m pretty proud of our little boy. His skills on the piano are getting better and better, and he nailed his rendition of the classic American folk song at his recital. Good job, Noah!

 The Family That Crafts Together

What started out as an impulsive addition to my son’s list of Christmas presents, has morphed into an addictive and all-consuming passion for crafting.  I’m of course talking about the insanely popular video game for the PC called Minecraft.  I must admit I didn’t fully grasp what the game was all about before I bought it. But after watching my son play it for a couple of hours (while I read the wiki and gave him pointers), I realized why the virtual world of the game is so compelling. I started having flashbacks to my college days, and the countless hours wasted in “deathmatches” in the early days of games like Doom and Duke Nukem.

But despite the similarities of its deliberately crude bitmaps, which give the graphics an odd retro feel, Minecraft is so much more than a first-person shooter. (In fact, we have chosen to play with the monsters turned off, and the game is no less compelling.) At its core, the game celebrates the creative rather than the destructive, and being able to easily mine the raw materials, and carry large quantities around with you, inspires no end of creativity. Want to build a castle on top of a mountain? That feat can be accomplished in an hour or two. And then it’s time to move onto the next challenge.

It is also, dare I say it, educational. It is a lesson in engineering, chemistry, and economics, disguised as a game. There are also some valuable moral lessons hidden there. For example, when my son decided he would loot one of the neighboring villages, and attack its inhabitants, the consequential hit to his own individual popularity meant that he could not trade with them when he later discovered that there were things he needed.

After just a few hours of solitary gameplay, I decided to up the ante a bit, and set up my own server so the two of us could play in a world that we could shape together. This is where the real addiction begins, as we collaborate on certain tasks, like planting a garden or raising livestock, while at the same time choosing our own projects to tackle, periodically sharing our progress with each other.

After a couple of days, a new rule emerged at the dinner table: no talk of Minecraft. Our incessant discussions of what we accomplished “in the mines” each day were leaving little sister (and mommy) feeling left out, and it wasn’t long before I was cobbling another PC together from spare parts, so the entire family could join in the fun.

Our daughter is just starting to read, and hasn’t had a need to write. Until now. We have been amazed at how well she is able to string together sentences when using the chat function to talk to rest of us playing in the next room or downstairs.

So, in the end, while this new hobby can be a bit obsessive at times, it does provide some unique opportunities for learning, and bonding as a family.

 Merry Christmas 2013

This is our eighth annual Pipes Family Christmas card! Can you believe it? We let the kids take over this year, and they want to wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years!

 Great Britain

We just got back from two weeks in Great Britain. We took a Trafalgar tour that took us from London, through southern England, northern Wales, the Lake District, and finally to Edinburgh, Scotland. We saw some amazing sights and some truly beautiful scenery. The weather was perfect and the people we met on tour were great. It was an awesome trip. Here is a short video showing some of the highlights. I also have a number of pictures in my photo album.

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