So much for 2016 - Looking Back

2016 was a challenging year. I didn't get a major renovation projects done, but there were some highlights and some challenges around here worth revisiting.

I did a little remodeling, but nowhere near as much as I have done in past years. 2017 should re-launch with a bigger project shortly. It seems like I did a lot more smaller handy or creative projects this year. 

Of course there were some unexpected repair projects to tackle to keep the homestead in working shape. Those are always a nice to surprise for the old wallet. 

The AZ DIY Guy blog itself got a lot of work this year, its biggest remodel to dateI hope you like the new image friendly format and what the future will bring. 

It's been a busy year. Lots going on. Here's a look back at some of the highlights.

 

Remodeling Projects

THE CLOSET

I actually finished a mid-size remodel project early in the year that I'd started in 2015. Our daughter's closet got a complete redo. I'd gutted the old builder's grade shelf / hanger, blasted a hole in the exterior wall for a window with craftsman style trim, installed an adjustable shelving system, created a recessed display shelving unit, and painted it her choice of color. 

It's a hidden gem and she loves it. 

 

The Kitchen

Let's not even call it a 2016 project. I've barely scratched the surface. It's been mostly investigation and planning. We really want to tear out the soffits above the cabinets, convert the design to a galley, and install a door at the far end.

We're actually working with a kitchen designer to help us work out the cabinet details. It's getting a little tricky since the ceiling is too low to make it work the way we want it. There are going to be challenges. 

We're not quite certain what we're going to do with the flooring when we remove the cabinets at the far end. I have not been able to find this 80's - 90's tile to do a patch job. We'll solve that bit later. No problem,... right?

Our stove is dying anyway, so we've ordered a couple new appliances which should be arriving soon. A built-in microwave and a new range have been on back order for over a month. We'd hoped to have the stove in place by Christmas, but no luck. 

I tore into the soffits to see if we can tear them down. Mixed news there. 2 good, 1 challenging one: Kitchen Remodel - Soffit Investigation: Good News / Bad News

I also created a cool, hinged soffit vent hatch to access the attic space above the kitchen. It's such a long haul to crawl all the way from the garage hatch to get to the kitchen area, that I made this easy access to get up there for all the electrical and duct work I'm going to have to do. How to Make an Attic Hatch from a Vent.

Lots to do. I think this will be the defining job of 2017 (and maybe 2018?)

Fix It

Home ownership, right? I had a good bit of unplanned repairs to get after this year, but nothing so serious that I had to call on the pro to come visit with their pesky service fees and unreliable schedules.  

The year started with a metal grinding failure of our heating system, plunging us into the frigid temperatures of a bitter Arizona winter (seriously, I even wore long pants!). Next, the sensor cable to our pool's salt water system got nicked and failed. A storm knocked over a smaller cactus. A foul, hell beast chewed through the side of our house and invaded our attic. Finally, just to treat me to an end of year appliance repair, the washing machine pump burned out.


The AZ DIY GUY Blog

Can you believe AZ DIY Guy is 4 years old now? It's a toddler!!!

The Re-design

 The original azdiyguy.com site

The original azdiyguy.com site

The blog got a major, top-to-bottom rebuild. Pretty huge stuff here. It took a ton of my time. I changed from Google's Blogger software to a new hosting and publishing platform. Squarespace is a lot more modern and adaptable to the huge array of screen sizes and devices. From my research it's much easier to work with behind the scenes than the Wordpress options, allowing me to focus on my content, not the mechanics. There are pros and cons to both of course, but I'm really happy with my choice. 

I've been slowly remastering my library of past posts to take advantage to the features and large format photography I can now put into play. If you go poking into the archives, I'm sure you'll find a bunch of older stuff that's not yet optimized. I'm still chasing down broken links here and there. 

 

The Google Slam

I didn't share this bit of excitement. I messed up one step when I transferred my blog between hosts, and the mighty Google dropped the hammer on me.

Whenever a blogger sets an outbound link that has a sponsored relationship, you are supposed to drop a pinch of code in the link that tells Google's robots not to follow it. Essentially, it's not an organic link. I have some of those throughout the site, direct sponsored content or links to companies that have provided me a product or service to review. 

Somehow, every single one of those bits of "no follow" code got stipped out. Google noticed within a day and hit the site with a search engine penalty. Luckily, a huge drop in Google traffic, didn't hurt me too much at the time. I had some high-performing content pulling visits in from other sources. Instead of a nice spike in readership a the time, I stayed fairly flat.  

What sucked is I had to spend a ton of time combing the site to re-craft every single link, before I could file an appeal. I'd rather been creating new stuff.  In the end, they accepted my explanation and turned the tap back on. 

 

Torch Bearer

I started my second year as a Bernzomatic Torchbearer, the largest ongoing campaign I've done to date on the blog. It has been so much fun to be exposed to so many different projects using blowtorches of all shapes and sizes to fix, build, and create. I've created an ever growing page to showcase the variety of projects and experiences. 

I lost my Dad this year. It's been crushing and heartbreaking, a defining moment for the year, and in my life.

He fought a tough, tough battle with cancer. His attitude was absolutely inspiring. It was a brutal fight, but he never lost his positive outlook. He never knew the odds. He never knew that he beat them by several months. 

I'd managed to make it back to Michigan and spend his final moments with him.  That was a gift. I'm grateful his pain is gone, but I miss him immeasurably. 

Here's the post: Life and Loss

 

Wheels

I shipped Dad's pride and joy, a Miata roadster from Michigan to Arizona. The delivery driver was probably right when he said I'd spent more than the car was worth to ship it. It's weathered, with over 100,000 miles and 15 midwestern winters parked by the lake and driving salted roads. 

After fighting my way through emissions issues, I got the diminutive wonder on the road. As Tom and Ray from NPR's Car Talk once said, "...it's the most fun you can have with your pants on."   I absolutely love driving this thing, and I feel a real connection with Dad. 

I'm not going to shift the blog over to being a automotive, nor I'm no mechanic, but there's a natural connection to DIY stuff, If I get to pulling out the wrenches and sockets to do some hands-on. I'll share it when it comes up. We can learn together. 

 

No Shave November

Pretty self explanatory eh? Support the cause. Fight Cancer. Thanks.

Family

Busy Busy Busy.

My lovely wife has been fighting the grad school fight. One more semester and she'll wrap it up. She's been cranking out research papers and crafting Powerpoint presentations like crazy for nearly two years. She is more than ready to be done with it. I'm so proud of her. 

Jack got his black belt, went with his high school robotics team to the national championships and is getting ready for his driver license. 

Grace has been loving soccer, helping her daddy with projects, and taping art work on every free surface around the house. 

On to 2017 my friends. Thanks for reading.