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spring + summer projects {our home}.

we’ve had our first taste of spring here in South Dakota, and warmer temperatures and sunshine-y days bring out the good ol’ “do all the things” attitudes in Jord and me. you’re on watch, Listy McListerson – we’re coming after you!

to give you a hint of what’s to come from us {and from this here blog} in the coming months, here’s a few projects that have jumped up on our to-do list:

1. plant a vegetable garden. we’d love to get our hands dirty and plant our first-ever garden early this spring. while we wait for temperatures to warm up a bit more, we’re dreaming of DIYing a raised garden bed or two {like this} and placing them in our front yard for maximum sunlight.

Back-Patio-Surround

Back-Patio

2. remove the dogwood bushes surrounding the cement patio in our backyard.

as i mentioned here, we’d love to improve sight lines around this patio to help us to see and interact with our young, play-loving kiddos, so we plan to remove these bushes early this spring as well.

Man-Nook

3. move the “man nook” to the guest bedroom {and DIY some rockin’ industrial shelving while we’re at it}.

after many conversations about Jord’s current “man nook,” we’ve learned the following things:

* our visions for the “man nook” are very, very different; while i want a finished, polished and “pretty” space {in that it fits in with the rest of our home decor} in which he can work and play, Jord envisions a space that is totally, 100% his – a “no-girl-opinions-or-prettying-up” allowed kind of feel;

* the current “man nook” is SMALL {it IS a closet, after all}. while we surely knew this before the space became “the man nook,” Jord’s plans to customize the space to fit his needs are making us wonder if his {great} efforts to make it work are worthwhile;

* we have a third bedroom downstairs {what we’re calling our guest bedroom} which is currently a glorified storage room, meaning that it’s largely unused.

thus, after some enlightening conversation, we’ve decided to move the “man nook” to the guest bedroom downstairs.

Guest-Room

Guest-Room

but, instead of just plopping down a desk in there and calling it quits, we’ve decided to take our time and plan out a killer wall of industrial shelving {using pipes and stained wood} that will really MAKE the space.

Industrial-Shelves-Jessica-Krause-House-Habit-Beautiful-Mess

we’re super inspired by the photo above, which is from this post over on A Beautiful Mess. the post features the home of Jessica Krause. we weren’t the only ones who were inspired – in fact, after seeing this wall o’ shelves, Traci over at Beneath My Heart wrote up a super helpful tutorial that has us believing that we can really make this project ourselves!

but, before we can make this wall o’ shelves happen, we need to paint the walls in the guest bedroom {i’m currently brainstorming colors, but my gut reaction is something neutral and fresh, along the lines of our new lower level paint job}. we also need to move the full-size bed to another wall in the guest bedroom {we will be using the wall that the bed is currently on for the shelving, since it’s the only wall in the room without a ledge going around the perimeter}. finally, we need to go shopping for some totes and devote some time to project: organization in order to pack up and move OUT of the room the various {and many!} baby-related items and other stuff that has accumulated in this room since move-in day.

Guest-Room

we can’t wait to tackle this project, since it will be such a welcome change for Jord {more space! natural light!} AND will be a handsome installation for whatever this room turns into {for instance, it will surely be L’s future bedroom down the line}.

what projects are you tackling? do the first signs of Spring have you in a tizzy as well?

So that’s done, what’s next?

{Read Part I and Part II of this series!}

The build is completely done, and I am quite proud. It’s a great machine; it does everything I wanted it to do. Even still, I did learn a few things.

Two things I skimped on when building the system were the case and the power supply. I wasn’t interested in a spaceship-looking case that I could show off to all of my friends because it was so tricked out, so I just bought one that would house everything.

It certainly does that, but what I didn’t consider is that the inside of the case matters too, and this case was a bit hard to get a few pieces into. It also doesn’t take a ton of consideration for easy cable management. It’s not a huge deal, especially if you don’t mind the cords being tough to hide, or a couple spots of weird cord placement.. I paid $30 for mine, but if I could get what I wanted for $50-$60, I’d do it. But in some postmortem research, I’ve found that the case I’d want is probably closer to the $100-$120 range, and I’m okay saving $70+ and having to deal with cords every six months when I open it up.

Secondly, and this might be the spot I could have made a better decision: the power supply. The whole time, my only consideration was that the supply had a low fail rate (meaning that the power supply likely won’t fail in a matter of months and thus need to be replaced) and had enough power. I had no idea what the difference was between a power supply that was modular, semi-modular or not modular. Well, that difference is that my power supply has all the cords you could possibly need built in, whereas semi-modular power supplies remove some of the cords so you can just plug it in. Fully modular means that you can choose which cords you want plugged in and eliminate more than half of them.

This probably wouldn’t have cost me a whole lot more and would clean up my mess. I can’t really go back now, but when/if my power supply dies, I will be going with a fully modular power supply just for the sake of sanity.

Finally, what I need going forward: while ultimately, I don’t need anything going forward, as this machine should handle my needs for the next two or three years without anything at all, I can (and probably will) upgrade various pieces fairly easily.

My current list:

  1. Mechanical Keyboard – It’s the best keyboard you can buy, it feels amazing, and they make quiet ones.
  2. Professional Microphone – I enjoy podcasting and streaming myself playing video games; therefore, a real microphone would really increase the quality and production of my stuff.
  3. More Ram – At some point, I’ll double the Ram in my computer, but not yet.
  4. Back-up hard drive – Backups are good, and they’re even better when they’re automatic. I’d like to stick a hard drive in my box that just runs back-ups.
  5. New monitors – I have two hand-me-down monitors, which are quite nice. However, full HD ones that are the same size would be awesome, and probably a money-saver in power consumption.

Ultimately I’m super duper happy, very thankful that my wife put up with it, and I look forward to using my super system for years to come! Feel free to get in touch with me if you have specific questions about my build.

Okay I built it, who’s coming?

{To read Part I of this series, click here.}

I learned how to build this PC by looking at videos online. If you search “New Egg Computer Build,” there’s a three-part series on how to build a machine. Watching and listening to this tutorial was a huge help in just seeing something done. However, the instruction book (THEY STILL EXIST!) from the mother board that I bought was also very detailed and helpful.

First things first: I unpacked my boxes to see what was inside, and I made sure I had all of my parts.

boxes

Second step was to open each individual box, read through the various instructions and lay out the parts on a flat surface.

case

From there, I built the computer outside of the box by basically plugging all the necessary pieces into the puzzle to test that it worked. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of this step, but the reason for doing this, is that mounting everything in the case is a huge pain in the rear, and you want to make sure everything works before you go down that road.

On the first go, I didn’t have one piece plugged in completely, so I had a scare right off the bat, but after doing it right, everything was aces!

From there you start taking your case apart, sticking different parts in there and threading the cord mess through the entire machine. This mess is quite hard to deal with, and now I understand a few things about cord management.

Here’s the not so finished product:

power on

Everything is in, everything is happy and everything works. I’m not done with cable management because I’m one cable short. I didn’t realize that my motherboard would only come with two cables, and I needed three. So for now, my CD/DVD player is not plugged in, because I have two hard drives.

The build is as follows:

8-core 4.0 Ghtz Processor (zoom x8!)
8 GB DDR3 1600 Ram
120 GB Solid State Drive (zoom!)
1 TB 7200 rpm harddrive (stuff holder!)
2 GB Geforce 760 Video Card (pretty!)
600 Watts of Power
Standard Case
Standard DVD/CD
Windows 8.1

I’m very happy with this build. So far, in just a week or two of use, I’ve been able to do EVERYTHING I’ve wanted to do, without sacrificing a dang thing. It’s such a fast machine – it’s really hard to explain.

close up

In my final post, I’ll discuss the things I would consider doing differently, things I can see myself upgrading, and other thoughts and considerations. Stick around for more!

nook

If you build it, they will come?

For the longest time I have always wanted to build my own computer. Being a computer guy, I felt like it was an accomplishment I needed to check of my list for the longest time. In 2011 we bought an iMac in favor of having me build my computer, because it was easier, I love the Mac operating system, and the computer is built in to the monitor.

Three years later, the trusty iMac is still a really good system, a worthwhile buy and a fine piece of machine. However, it no longer was fitting my (admittedly) very niche needs anymore. To satisfy those needs, it was clear that I needed to build my own system.

Building your own computer has several advantages:

  • It’s cheaper.
  • High quality parts.
  • Better performance.
  • Custom tailored to your needs.
  • Upgrade-able.
  • Fun.

Building your own computer does have disadvantages, however:

  • Parts are fragile and it’s possible to wreck them during installation.
  • Some places give you warranties over the entire machine. The warranties on the parts I bought are all varying and limited.
  • Building, while fun, can be a time-consuming and stressful experience.
  • Instead of selecting a ready-made computer off the shelf, you need to do your research for comparability and find the parts in stores or, more typically, online.

If you’re not willing to do the research to see if your parts will fit, stop right now and just go to Best Buy or Apple (Apple is better for you in this case, in my opinion, despite the price) and purchase a computer off the shelf. There’s no shame in that!

But, if you’re willing enough to do the research, you know how to use a screwdriver, and you’re capable of blocking off three to four hours of your time to build something fun, you’re set!

All in all, with various sales and discounts, I built a computer that, according to various “we will build your customized machine” websites is valued at around $1500, but I spent just under $900. I spared some expenses in some areas and splurged in others. Ultimately, after just one week of use, I’m extremely happy; my machine is a monster!

In my next post, I’ll get deeper into the building of the machine, for those who are interested. Stay tuned!

Operation Man Cave, Err, Nook.

Well, check that. Operation Man Cave Nook. Part of owning a house is having some space that represents a little bit of you. There’s pieces of me all over our house in tiny ways, but there’s not a room that screams Jord. That’s likely to change, as I recently got Sara’s approval to take a very tiny space – that probably technically classifies as a closet – and turn it into my man cave. Well, instead of a cave, I’m now calling it a nook.

Below is a picture of where the nook is located in our lower level; we’ll work on getting “before” pictures taken of the actual space:

Man-Nook

Hidden behind the door has been a catch-all for various storage items that we have yet to find a spot for, or stuff that we just simply unloaded from the moving truck back in August. The space isn’t large, and it isn’t grand, but after a quick test run, it’s quite perfect for my needs. With some simple modifications, a bit of TLC, a Master Chief Fat Head, and finally Sara’s stamp of approval, I’ll have a perfect man-nook.

Now I won’t likely host parties or be able to squeeze anymore than just myself in there, but 99% of the time, that is it’s purpose. A spot that can hold all of my toys, and easily keep them out of sight (I really have no idea why she doesn’t think a big PC, dual screen monitors, MASTER CHIEF!, among so much other stuff isn’t cute when it’s located in a room that people often hang out in, but I don’t always have to understand her. :)

Things I’d like to do:

  • Mount two computer monitors on the wall.
  • Mount a drop-leaf table/shelf that collapses for ease of movement but functions to hold a keyboard & mouse when I’m in gaming mode.
  • Build a spot for the Operation Nerd Mode PC I plan to build and Xbox 360/One to sit.
  • Create a cool way to hang/hold accessories, games etc.
  • Find a cool chair.
  • Hang up Master Chief Fat Head.

Things Sara would like to do:

  • Address the drywall situation (while the space has been drywalled, it is need of sanding – big time – before painting)
  • Paint the room a light and airy color (BM’s Palladian Blue, like L’s bedroom?)
  • Give some love to the concrete floor (paint it, a la Young House Love? add rugs?)
  • Add/Build concealed storage furniture (for baby items, holiday items, etc.) in smaller space under stairway (beyond the “man nook” area)
  • Take down Master Chief.

It should be quite cool, even though it will take time; it’s a process that, I imagine, could take a full year. I don’t want to just dump a ton of money into a room that’s for fun, but as you can see from my list of projects (ignore Sara’s – she’s got big stuff in mind!), this room has the prospect of getting done slowly with some spare change here and there.