Planting Sequoias

In which I blog about a life (hopefully) well lived.


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This blog has moved! Head to plantingsequoiasblog.com for the reveal!!!

This here blog is no longer functional! So, if you’re reading this in a feed (or for some strange reason aren’t automatically redirected, update your link/bookmark and head on over to plantingsequoiasblog.com! It’s nice over there, so don’t be scared. Seriously.


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Farm Apartment: Framing Exterior Walls (in which Kenny and I invent our own form of marriage counseling)

As you might have seen from my instagram feed (it’s fascinating, really), framing on the apartment has begun!

My grandpa got a jump on assembling the walls before we were even finished laying the deck. The walls are assembled on the floor and then hoisted in large pieces. In the picture below, you can see a wall just waiting to be lifted into place.

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Three things to note in the picture above: The large space in the far wall will be where a window will go. Grandpa also took the time to notch out small sections in each of the end walls (you can see the notches in the picture above). Later we’ll put 2x4s through them and they’ll be an anchor for the steel exterior of the barn. Last thing: the darker boards in the picture above are the old joists from the ceiling! Waste not, want not, right?

We got busy putting up the first wall when the sun was setting. It was pretty beautiful.

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In many ways, the process went fast and was extremely gratifying visually. But in other ways, there was a lot of busy work that occurred too–the walls have to be precisely placed and level and then each wall section needs to be braced. We only got a little more than 1 wall up that first night. We=basically the whole fam: Grandpa, dad, uncle, Kenny, and yours truly, hanging out with the men and hoping they don’t notice.

My youngest brother and his friend put up the next wall. No worries–he does this for a living now.

And then it was time for Our wall.

Oh yeah, did I tell you that Kenny and I erected an ENTIRE wall? BY OURSELVES? And SURVIVED, marriage intact?

Because we did.

framing exterior walls

(studmuffin)

There are obviously no pictures of the project in process because I was lifting, hauling, leveling, nailing, and bracing massive walls. That’s my excuse, and I think it’s a good one.

Here’s the wall we put up ON OUR OWN. Nail guns, ladders, bracing, and everything.

framing exterior walls

And hold on. Do you see that large gaping hole in the floor? In the picture above?

That, my friends, is going to be where the stairs come up. But for now, it’s just a gaping hole. THAT KENNY AND I HAD TO MANEUVER BAJILLION POUND WALLS AROUND. Without falling into, ideally.

I won’t say there were no arguments throughout the process, but I will say that this was an excellent lesson in working together and trusting each other.

framing exterior walls

I think both Kenny and I feel pretty proud of ourselves after that day.

Oh, and I had to include this picture my sister instagrammed from the first day. Who knew construction work could be so beautiful and glamorous looking?

Framing an exterior wall.

Sheesh. Over and out.


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Transformed Thrift Store Artwork (in which painted velvet is actually a good thing)

So. You remember this ugly piece of thrift store artwork I picked up for $5 here, right? I know, I know, how could you forget this nightmarish painting? It’s downright scary. My apologies. Ken shrieked when I brought it home, poor guy.
old artwork in antique frame

But no worries. I used oil paints for the first time and it actually turned out pretty cool-looking. Except for the frame.

framed oil painting

So I polled you guys since I was sincerely bamboozled. Many chimed in with GREAT ideas, so click over to that post if you are ever in a dire situation like this. (HA). Pretty sure no one’s had this problem ever.

I ended up diving in headfirst by painting the velvet-y strip of the frame navy. I’ve done this before, on this frame, and it worked out well then. It does get stiffer, but after 50ish years, these velvet bits aren’t exactly something you want to rub your face on anyway.

Paint a thrift store frame's velvet section with craft paint.

It dried SUPER quickly (YAY) so I flipped the frame over and secured the oil painting in its grasp. Also–I painted on the backside of the painting if, justincase I ever wanted to, I don’t know? flip it over and use the original gross side? Completely unnecessary, now that I think about it.

old artwork preserved! just in case.

I’m in love with the painting and how easy it was. KEY: use lots of white. When I didn’t, things got murky FAST.

Oil painting for beginners! Super easy.

It now hangs in the 12 square feet that is our hallway, between our bedroom on the left and bathroom on the right.

Ugly thrifted artwork turned beautiful!

I left the outer creamy portion of the frame as is for now. I’m still mulling over whether or not I want to paint it. It’s currently acting as a nice bridge color between our creamy walls and the bright white in the painting.

Oh, and I made a nice (PINNABLE, hint) before and after image so you could see the contrast without scrolling up.

Transform old thrift store art!

So, for $5 and the cost of paint (maybe $6? I had a giftcard), we now have a sweet custom piece of artwork.

Moral of the story: don’t pass up ugly pieces of art in the thrift store, but don’t show it to your husband before you transform it. Things go much better that way.


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Farm Apartment: Laying the Deck (in which I wield a nail gun like a boss)

If you’re a construction worker, this “Farm Apartment” blog series might make you go “huh?” but hopefully that’s okay because for your sake I am skipping over some of the more boring parts. It is entirely coincidental that those boring parts just happened to be very stressful to the point where I forgot to take pictures.

Which is a bummer, because a crane was involved.

While the open sky look can be quite lovely, it is not conducive for shelter during rainstorms. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up by reading this post first. Yes, we’re building a second story onto a formerly flat-roofed barn.

Anyway, let’s talk about the crane, since that was the best/most stressful part. Dad ordered these fancy joists (they looked like these) that were made up of two 2x4s and some plywood. Apparently they’re very strong, and very heavy–thus the crane. The truck driver who delivered them also doubled as a crane driver which was conveniently a part of the truck itself. He hoisted up those joists and plopped them right onto the roof as if they were pick-up sticks–except with way more serious consequences if something went wrong.

Once we had the joists, it was simply (HA) a matter of spacing them across the beam and walls every sixteen inches and nailing them in. Nevermind that each joist weighed a ton apiece (almost) and were about 40 feet long.

Then came some less stressful progress–the “deck”! Apparently this platform is not called a “floor;” no, that would be entirely too logical.

Using the farm’s forklift, Dad lifted up a stack of 4×8′ sheets of underlayment and we got to building.

workshop4

(Picture from my sister’s Instagram feed.)

My job was affixing everything with the nail gun, since wrangling the large sheets of underlayment into place was not my forte. Which was fine with me–nail-gunning makes one feel quite powerful.

We got halfway done the first day and finished up on the second evening we worked on it.

In the picture below you can see that half of the deck has been laid (in the foreground) and half has yet to be laid.

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My grandpa got a jump on the framing of the second story by assembling the walls (you can see them lying down) before we’d even finished the deck.

With the underlayment down, it is nearly time to begin framing!

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And that will wait for another post. Bwahaha.

I’m just happy we don’t have to walk from joist to joist (in mortal peril) anymore. I have great balance, but it’s somewhat unnerving to step over gaping holes into which you could quite possibly plummet with any misstep.

Also–can I just point out how great the view is from our construction site? Nothing like looking out over the fields at sunset!

Anyone else want to share their nail-gunning experience? Or desire to learn? I am basically an expert now.🙂