Attempting a Storm-Downed Cactus Rescue

We get a ton of sunny days here in Arizona, but July brings the Monsoon season. It's still pretty good weather (aside from an average temperature of 104°F with spikes above 110°) but there's still the occasional rain and or dust storm action.

We got absolutely hammered this week. I managed to get the top up on the Miata, dodge around some small tree limbs and slide into the garage, just before the worst of it hit.

There are some cool pictures circulating online of the micro-burst absolutely plowing us. It looks like we got nuked.

Phoenix microburst

Kitchen Remodel - Soffit Investigation: Good News / Bad News

Kitchen Soffits with Ugly Wallpaper
Kitchen soffits are those boxy bump-outs above the high cabinets. We don't really love them or hate, but they do need to removed as part of our remodel. We're going to loose a good chunk of cabinet space as we shift from a U shape kitchen to a galley style, so we're going to go for taller cabinets, all the way to the ceiling.

Before we moved too far in our planning, I had to do some investigation to see what may lay in wait. Remember when I pulled the drop ceiling out of the family room (in my very first blog post ever)? I found a weird beam protruding beyond the wall face. I had to extend the wall face out to hide it. 

Harken back to yesteryear. There it was, the year 2012...

Kitchen Remodel - Early Planning and Research

I shared recently that we were targeting our kitchen remodel next. When I say "recently" I mean I mentioned it here on the blog about 3 and a half years ago. Practically yesterday right?

We decided that if we waited until we can actually afford it and have the time to do it, we'd never start. So we're going to start this year. We'll phase it in and get creative on living through the renovation. Of course, we'll save a ton by doing all the work ourselves.

The project will substantially be a gut-job, down to studs in some places. Stick with me and I'll share all the sorted details as we go.

The Initial Plan - 10,000 foot View

  • Convert the U-Shape to a Galley Style
  • Remove the horrible, energy sucking, single-pane greenhouse window and install an exterior door at the far end to a private courtyard (future). 
  • Move the Refrigerator and Pantry at the far end to open the space
  • Remove the soffit to allow for taller, upper cabinets (The soffit is that boxy drywall thing above our current cabinets.)
  • Replace the stove and add a built in microwave w/ exhaust fan
  • New cabinets, counter-tops, and back splash
Easy! Just these six things and we'll have a new kitchen. That should run about a hundred bucks and take a weekend to complete,... right? 

How to Customize a Hockey Stick and Make it Extra Special

With the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in full swing, my soccer playing daughter decided she really wanted in on the fun with her own hockey stick. Although my beloved Red Wings and adopted Coyotes are not of the tournament, I still have the hockey itch this time of year. Why not? After all, it was only 115°F  at our house today, perfect weather for thinking about hockey.

Of course, I'll set Gracie up in the backyard pond to slap the puck around a bit.

I found a wooden, kid's size hockey stick with a straight blade. Clearly that wouldn't do. As an ex-Michigan, lake hockey kid, I know I gotta tape up the stick and put a slight curve to the blade to give my little girl an authentic puck handling experience. At least as authentic experience as I can muster the summer,... in the desert,... during record-breaking high temperatures.

If you've been reading for the past year, you know that if I do any project where heating stuff up is involved, I'll be bringing out a blow torch.

This post is sponsored by Bernzomatic
All experiences and opinions are 100% my own.

I clamped the kid stick in a bench vice and fired up the torch. Because I wanted to disperse heat over a wider area than I would if I was soldering, cutting, loosening bolts, or wood burning, I chose the Bernzomatic BZ4500HS Heat Shrink Torch. Compared to the rifle-precise flame you'd find in their TS8000, the Heat Shrink torch is a like a blunderbuss; it blasts a much wider flame to heat a broader area.
Bernzomatic BZ4500HS Heat Shrink Torch
Bring on the heat!

How to Easily Restore Headlights to Beautiful, New Clarity

I've never tried restoring crusty, yellowed headlights before, although I've seen the restoration kits available for years.

For whatever reason, I thought of the whole headlight restoration concept was an "As Seen on TV!!!"  late night infomercial type product, like spray on hair, or a that blanket with sleeves that prevents a gruesome death by strangulation risked by a normal, highly-dangerous blankets. I figured the products would improve my headlights a little bit, or at least they wouldn't be harmful to try. Likely,  I'd eventually replace the lights from a junkyard recovery place or ebay anyway.

If you follow me on Facebook (please), you know I inherited my Dad's beloved Miata MX-5. I shipped it from Michigan to Arizona, about a month ago. This car needs some TLC.

How to Make Easy Electrical Repairs with a Torch

Last fall, while doing routine maintenance, I managed to damage some of the wiring for our pool equipment. It was a small control / sensor cable to the saltwater chlorination cell. I slapped a band-aid fix on it to get it working, and, of course, promptly forgot about it for the next few months.

Now that daily temperatures are spiking up above 100° F in Phoenix, the pool is getting heavy, summertime use. When I fired up the squirting water jets to delight our youngest, I noticed I'd never gotten back to doing a proper repair on the wiring.

I'd simply twisted on a couple wire nuts and wrapped the thing in electrical tape. My haphazard fix was still hanging there, suspended like a cocoon. Electrical tape isn't a long term fix, especially when its exposed to the elements.

Soon will come a beautiful butterfly!
Since this is a tiny, exposed cable, it didn't make sense to install some sort of slice box. I couldn't even replace it because it is attached directly to the sensor in a water pipe. I decided I'd solder the wires together and protect them with some heat shrink tubing.