Our Home Gym Equipment Comes Home

One of our reasons for buying a house was so that we could build a home gym into one half of the garage. This month, we worked towards that goal with the purchase of some gently-used gym equipment.

Jim and I like to lift heavy things, so for years we’ve had this routine: – wake up, drive to the gym, work out, shower at the gym, drive to work, eat breakfast at work, start work day.  This is fine, but we would LOVE to do this at home instead. I found this great guy on Craigslist who was selling a suite of home gym equipment in great condition at a beyond-reasonable price:

  • Squat rack complete with safety bars
  • Commercial grade Precor elliptical
  • Olympic bars
  • Weight plate set
  • Adjustable dumbells
  • Adjustable bench

Even better, he was located just miles away and he liked our offer.  All we had to do was haul it home – my dad happened to be in town and with his rented minivan and our seller’s truck we got it all into our garage.  Like this:

And our car like this:

So we moved stuff around a few times until we finally got everything inside, and accessible, and with enough room for the car (who is now very happy).  Our rack, weighs, bench, and leg curl machine go where our storage shelves, old vanity (we destroyed it), and garbage bins used to go.

Everything else got Tetris’d into the open area to the right of the car:

Everything’s cramped but accessible.  This arrangement isn’t ideal, but I already have some ideas for improving it.

The elliptical faces a TV I brought down from upstairs, which I connected to a low-end $50 Roku for access to Netflix and other channels while I air-jog. And the speakers connect directly to any device with a headphones jack, such as an iPod, for some good, loud workout music.

Home gym advantages:

  • I’m home 2 more hours a day
  • I can blast my own music
  • I shower and get dressed at home
  • I don’t have to lug a gigantic gym bag into/out of the gym each morning
  • No more gym membership fee
  • I can grunt and yell and make faces
  • I don’t have to drive 3 miles to get to an indoor workout
  • I don’t have to share equipment with a hundred other people :D
  • Jim or I can sleep late without derailing the other one’s workout
  • It’s always open!  Even on holidays!
  • I can eat my breakfast at my table instead of my desk, with my husband instead of my coworkers

Our home gym continued to evolve – read an update about our home gym here!

Adding closet space under stairs

Dad came to visit!  He banged out an awesome front closet upgrade, and he did it so fast I didn’t even get too many photos of it.  He knocked out part of the left wall to reveal a TON of space underneath the stairs to the second floor.  He finished the wall with some plywood, which he cut to fit, and tiled the floors.   (The musty old carpet inside is history, woo!) This house is very stingy with storage space so opening up this space is incredibly useful to us.

And as if that wasn’t enough, he added two lightbulb fixtures, one to the main closet and one to the storage section.  This closet is notoriously dark, but no more!   And since he was already working with the electrical, he ALSO added a new outlet outside the closet (right over the first step) to make plugging in the stair vacuum much easier.  My dad is awesome.

That rectangular hole bordered with trim? Yeah, it totally wasn’t there a week ago.

Can you believe all this space has been sitting unused since 1977?

Now it holds our lawn chairs, Christmas tree, ski equipment, extra kitchen plates, and more!!  The closet was very scuffed and marred from years of use by previous owners, so I gave everything inside a fresh coat of paint.

Here’s our after:


Our Alaska Adventure: Anchorage, Whittier, & Alaskan Cruise

Home renovations were put on hold for a while as Jim and I took a vacation in September!

We went up to Anchorage, Alaska (via plane) and sailed south along the coast to Vancouver (via a Princess cruise ship). We were there for a week and a half and had a (mostly) wonderful time.

Downtown Anchorage:

Where I ate reindeer every time I got hungry (SO GOOD!!!!):

The weather was nice during our one full day in Anchorage, so we rented bikes and biked the trail along the coastline:

Here’s a dorky victory dance I did after I was the first (between Jim and I) to successfully throw a pebble through the ring in the tree leaves:

Alaska is pretty much mind-blowingly gorgeous everywhere you turn.

Our cruise boarded in Whittier, where we stayed for a day prior to boarding. Whittier itself could be its own post, that town is AWESOME. This one pic will have to suffice for now:

The cruise itself was… an experience. We’d never cruised before, and we weren’t really ready for how much they try to annoy pamper you. The excessive attention from waitstaff and room stewards trying to get in to “straighten up” all the time was too much for us. Seriously, I can tidy my own room, I’m an adult… thanks guys. I guess we are DIYers to the bone!

The cruise took us to the glaciers, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau.

Glaciers are awesome:

Cruising was a great way to see these otherwise inaccessible cities, but I didn’t like how crowded the cruise was.

I was all expecting a week of this:

But it was more like this:

The cruise lines will never show you photos like these, with ass-tons of people crowding everything and walking at a turtle’s pace. But I will! Here’s me and like, a hundred people:

And then when the cruise ship (plus three of four others) come into port, this is what they do to the tiny town waiting to receive them:

I’m a crowd-hater, totally miserable at places like IKEA and Disney World, so being surrounded by so many people drove me nuts. We ate at odd times (dinner at 9:00!) and did everything we could to minimize exposure to massive loads of people, but they were truly everywhere.

The excursions, while pricey, were the highlights of the cruise. We did a terrifying high speed tear down a mountain on a bicycle while I struggle to maintain control of my bowels in the torrential rain scenic bike tour in Skagway, whale watching in Juneau, and ziplines in Ketchikan. I highly recommend the whale watching and the ziplines. Here’s Jim incoming via zipline:

And that’s when I started coming down with something bad. By the time we arrived in Vancouver on Saturday, I was feverish and nearly bedridden with plague. We cut our trip a day short once we arrived in Vancouver, BC, skipping our plans for seeing the city. We rented a truck and road tripped it back to Seattle. My bed never felt so good. (And after that, well… I was ill with bronchitis and missed a week of work, about 5 weeks of the gym, and am STILL – in December – trying to shake a lingering cough despite a hearty regiment of inhalers and rest.)

All in all, I can’t WAIT to go back to Alaska! I loved the scenery, meeting the people, and the way they put fish graphics on EVERYTHING. (If you know me, and you probably do if you’re reading this blog, I’m totally batshit for FISH!!!). I don’t want this post to end on a downer about how sick I got, so here’s some pics of how much fun we had:





Jim made a point of eating pizza every single day:

And I ate ice cream every day (sometimes twice a day):

Okay, one more whale:

We must go back!

Minty Fresh Family Room, Part 1

Do you have a big project in mind that will take a ton of time but all you can give it is an hour or so a day?  That’s our situation – we are two full time workers with a needy house.  This post details how just 90 minutes a day made a huge difference in one week!

House projects were on hiatus for a bit while I traveled to see family in Illinois and shipped my latest project at work.  We’re back in our routine now, and with a few weeks to go ’til Jim and I travel again it seemed like a great opportunity to knock off a project at home: painting the family room!  The walls are dirty, scuffed, and just in need of a big freshen-up.

Normally we’d grind this sort of thing out over a weekend, but this time we tried something different: do a bit each night, and maybe it’ll be done by weekend instead of just getting started on a Saturday morning.  We’ll have to wash our brushes and clean up every night, but the tradeoff may be worth it.  With just an hour and a half or so of time to dedicate to this project each evening, we didn’t have a minute to waste!

Sunday: A quick trip to Home Depot netted us a sample of the pale minty color I chose for the walls.  Afterwards, we moved everything portable out of the family room.  This includes books, wall art, mantel decorations, draperies, and laundry.  We threw old blankets/sheets over what remained (and when we ran out of drop clothes, we RISKED IT ALL FOR FAME AND GLORY were just extra careful). Here, the contents of our family room take refuge in our living room:

Monday: Trim time!  I painted the border around the carpet, Jim handled the trim around the slider.  1 hour and 30 mins later, most of our trim had its first coat.

My trim-next-to-carpet technique: paint the top 80% or so of the trim with a thick coat of white paint (my particular color is known as “Popped Corn” – YUM!), being careful not to paint the carpet.  Once the first coat dries, return with a painting shield to jam between the carpet and the trim and do a second coat.  Repeat in 12” segments around the room, moving the shield as you go. The first coat goes on fast, the finishing coat goes on slow, but it’s much faster than using the shield for both coats and no one notices the slightly thinner coat on the part of the trim that gets covered by carpet.

Tuesday: Trim finishin’ time.  I busted out the paint shield, stuffed it between trim and carpet, and worked my way around the entire room in 1-foot segments.  It’s tedious, but when you paint after carpeting you take what you can get!  The end result is crisp white woodwork against carpet.  Jim painted the fence separating the family room from the kitchen. We only had about an hour this evening, bringing total time to 2:30.

Wednesday: Time for the teal paint!  Now it’s starting to look like something!   Jim spackled, loosened the drapery hardware, removed electrical outlet covers, and other go-fer tasks while I painted this corner:

…and this wall:

Total time: 4:00.

Thursday: Jim’s project requires a 1 hr+ phone call from him one night a week, and this week it fell on Thursday.  While he did his call, I took our new extension pole for a whirl and painted the tallest wall of the family room using a roller and a flat pad for the corner where ceiling meets wall:

Jim’s call is done! DINNER BREAK:

A pan fried stir fry of steamed broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and Trader Joe’s high protein tofu.  (I freakin’ love tofu… and everything else made of meat or a meat-like substance.)  After dinner, we painted the rest of the tall wall. Total time: about 6:00 now, although for one of those hours we were at half staff as I painted during Jim’s call.

Friday: We painted the wall around the mantel.  This went so freakishly fast I neglected to take any photos of it in progress.  We started putting tools, sheets, etc away.  Total time: about 7:00.

Saturday: All that was left by Saturday were the corners where the vaulted ceiling meets the walls.  We couldn’t figure out how to get the rectangular painting pad into the angled corner.   Here was our dilemma:

We were stumped on this for a full day, and we even stopped at McLendon’s during our Saturday bike ride to see if they had a special angled pad for this kind of situation.
Then I had a lightbulb moment – ah hah – the pad can be used sideways!  Putting the paint on its edge and dragging it along like a thin brush worked like a charm and finished off our corners.

VICTORY LAP! I painted the mantel using the same white I used on the trim.  Just a thin coat to cover some of the wear and dirt, since it’s already white.

Total time: 8:00

Sunday: At last, we can use our family room again!  Best of all, we didn’t spend a WHOLE DAY painting this room/getting exhausted/wishing we were having fun on our weekend instead.  Having to wash the paint rollers and brushes every night wasn’t the time sink we thought it would be, either – and we have enough rollers and brushes to replace anything that was still damp the next day.

A better “after” will be posted once the room is fully back together!  We’ve still got to replace some electrical outlets, cover the furnace intake, and haul a bunch of stuff back into the room.



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