Shangri La

Shangri La

Friday, April 25, 2014

If you love something, set it free

LSW here. Piggybacking on the Vermonster's previous post, I'll add my two cents about furniture shopping. We put a lot of forethought into the mattresses. We researched them. We memorized the Consumer Reports mattress issue. We went to IKEA during a school day so we'd have plenty of time to try out each mattress without The Boy asking if we were done yet. And so we went from one gross mattress to another (how many people do you think lay down on those things all day long?), comparing the levels of firmness versus softness. We took a long time figuring it out, which is not usually our M.O. We finally found the perfect one and then prepared ourselves for the seven-mile hike to aisle 32, where we could pick up said mattresses. (Fortunately, we had fortified ourselves earlier at the IKEA cafĂ© with lingonberry pancakes and "sausages" and "coffee.")
A few hours later, after hiking through lighting, bathrooms, kitchens, Poangland, the Gumdrop Forest, World of Futons, and Everything Shelves, we found ourselves near the finish line. We got a trolley and went to aisle 32, bin 30 which was ... empty. They were out of the mattress we had picked out. Okay, onto our second choice in bin 28 which was ... also empty. A quick survey of the bins revealed that there were only two types of full-sized mattresses available.
We heaved our rucksacks back on and began the long ascent to the top of Mt. Mattress Land. We tried out the two -- let's call them semi-plush-- mattresses and decided that yes, these would do. So much for all our research. We took one of each and called it a day.

The Boy's loft, complete with way cool IKEA lights

With God as my witness, I will never sleep on a camping cot again!

Now, about that trailer incident. The Vermonster worked hard all day assembling the bits and pieces that would become the beds, and I painted our side of the loft. While we enjoyed hot showers and post-work beverages, The Boy went outside to play his version of Hunger Games. He came back in and told us he had opened the trailer but couldn't get the door closed again. "No problem," said The Vermonster, and then he promptly took that information and put it in the recycling bin in his mind.
A half hour later, we were off ... the Vermonster in the truck with the trailer, The Boy and I following in my car. As we bumped down the muddy, pot-holed dirt road, The Boy shouted, "The door! It's open!"
And that's when the door to the trailer swung open and ripped right off, shooting to the side of the road.

Give a hoot, don't pollute!

I jammed on the brakes, but The Vermonster just kept going. He was clueless. I wasn't quite sure what to do next. I got out and dragged the door to the side of the road and then hauled ass, trying to catch up to the truck. I was honking the horn and flashing my lights and The Vermonster just kept going and going. "I am so dead. I'm dead meat!" The Boy kept saying. Finally, the car that had been driving behind me sped up and drove up next to the truck. (Clearly they weren't as concerned about their shocks as I was.) "You lost your door!" the passenger shouted. Yep. So we retrieved the door and began the long drive to Brattleboro in which The Boy offered up all his allowance to pay for the damage.

We returned it just the way we got it.

The story has a good ending though. Turns out, in a typical fit of hyper-caution, The Vermonster bought the extra insurance. Huzzah! We were saved.
With a spring in our steps and a whistle that needed to be wetted, we went to Whetstone Station where I ordered a special house-brewed extra-dry cider that was amazingly like champagne. As I was drinking it, I was sad that I'd never have it again, as it was a limited run. It was a thing of beauty, and 8 percent alcohol.

And now, for two last bits of news from this most recent trip.
At the market, I spied a strawberry Charleston Chew. Haven't seen one of those in years, so I had to get it for The Boy. Even better, I stuck it in the freezer so he'd have the joy of smashing it into little pieces before eating. He loved it.

And finally, we have officially disposed of this:

The Vermonster's handmade sanding tool. RIP. May we never have to use it again.

Ikeafest 2014

When Ikea opened a few towns away from us in Flatland, we followed the herd to check it out, and our reaction was mixed at best. We were rats in a one-way maze, unable to leave until you've been forced to see everything they offer. And man oh man do they have a lot on offer. I was both disgusted that 'durable goods' had been made disposable and fascinated by the idea that I could walk out with a flat-packed kitchen that could be assembled with an allen wrench. Driving home with a consumerist hangover (despite buying nothing), the LSW and I had the same assessment: "That stuff would be great in a dorm room or vacation home."

Flash forward a number of years, and here is how we opened year 6 of or little build-it-yourself adventure...

 To be fair, this isn't all Ikea. And there was also a farmhouse sink and 2 mattresses that wouldn't fit into the shot.
We had a kitchen and beds from Ikea, closet and storm doors from Home Depot, and a tag sale lamp; now we just needed something to sit on in the 'living room'. We wanted a sectional, but the space is small and we didn't want to overwhelm it. And how to coordinate furniture delivery? And where are we going to find a furniture store near Shangri-La when we're forced to drive an hour just to get towels?

Google to the rescue: Home Reserve. Sectional sofas in the Ikea spirit - configure to taste, receive in boxes, and assemble it yourself - while being small enough for the space AND having storage under each cushion. Afraid it was too good to be true, we ordered piece 1 of 6 to check it out.

Imagine that this is a photo of my putting it together instead.
The particle-board frame came in numbered pieces packed together with compressed foam and fabric. Everything went together in about 30 minutes. The good: Much sturdier than you'd think, looks really good, and all of fabric comes off if needed for cleaning or replacing. Less good: The bottom cushions are pretty short, so an ottoman is a must if you plan to relax. We needed small, though, so we were sold. I assembled it on the first day of 'opening weekend 2014'...

Note the U-Haul in the background - the LSW will share a little of that experience in a future post!
...and bam! Bob's your uncle.

The perfect fit!
No time to enjoy it, however, as we had sworn that 2014 would be free of camping-cots and sleeping bags. It was too late to assemble the beds, though, so we figured we'd move the mattresses into the loft and sleep on the floor for night one.

Low ceilings and the need for storage led us to platform beds with 2 drawers on each side. In order to pull out the drawers comfortably, though, they needed to be Full rather than Queen. This was fortunate it quickly became clear that it might be impossible to get the mattresses upstairs.

Here's the thing: That triple 'beam' I put across the middle of the cathedral in a fit of over-engineering was a big mistake. It forced us into an extremely narrow spiral stair, and will ensure that almost nothing larger than a lamp will make it into the loft once the railings are up. If it weren't for my (apparently) excellent special relation skills, we'd have been forced to downscale to twin mattresses (and maybe beds).

If it ever comes down, it will be in pieces.
On day 2, we decided to finish the gable walls before assembling the beds. Before the trip, I read this blog from beginning to end and noted that the things we complained most about were insulation and drywall sanding. last year we ended with one rough layer of mud on the gable seams, and I decided to 'cheat' to avoid dust all over everything: We'd simply cover the seams with 1x4 trim. And so we did.

There was enough paint left over to do both sides, but The Boy wants his side blue, so its in primer for now.
While the LSW primed and painted the gables, I got to work assembling the base cabinets to make sure they fit the space. They did, though I found that I needed to rethink the upper cabinets around the window as I didn't plan its location for standard cabinet sizes. Yet another in a long list of lessons learned.

Still a mess, but we're getting there.
Better on this side!
It was good to have the sawhorses out and begin to get a feel for what a real kitchen will be like. On the next trip we'll mount and finish the lowers and start planning for the uppers.

We finished out the trip with the beds, which were deceptively complex and took about 5 hours to assemble. The day after all the assembly, my fingers ached. Not the muscles - which are largely in the lower arms - but my fingers. Allen wrenches are not the most ergonomic of tools. That or more evidence that I'm getting old.

I had planned to finish the siding under the eaves and the storm doors, but, as always, everything took twice as long as I expected so they'll have to wait. (You'd think I'd be better at that by now!)