Category Archives: Crooked Crowbar

Yay Homebrew!

I have been homebrewing with a friend for a couple years now, but thanks to lovely brewing equipment gifts from my in-laws for Christmas, I now have my own setup.  So far, I’ve done two batches: a hazelnut brown ale and an oatmeal stout.  Gavin suggested making labels with fun pictures for the beer.  I was a little skeptical at first, but this proved to be one of the most fun parts of the process.

When my family visited last August, my dad stuck his thumb drive in my computer an unloaded some 30 gig’s of family photos.  Gee thanks, Dad.  Anyway, it was in these pictures that I stumbled upon a self portrait of Garin in a suit wearing headphones.  The potential was there.  I threw it in PS, applied a couple filters and BAM!  The Gentleman’s Oatmeal Stout label was born.

Oatmeal Stout in a Row The Rocker Top Label Closeup

Garin with the Virgin


Ben and I spent a few hours over the weekend constructing this sweet brew shelf.  We wanted to make it strong enough to support a couple fermenters.  This was probably overkill, but it works.
The Brew Shelf


DIY Home Maintenance Pro

I’ve never been much for home maintenance.  This is likely because I totally suck at it.  I am also a proponent of outsourcing everything.  With Tara and I both working full time, the last thing we want to do in the evenings is more work.  But I’m trying to come around.  Call it a New Year’s Resolution if you will.  I understand that doing your own home maintenance can be rewarding.  I also understand that I have a ridiculously hard time spelling “maintenance” properly.

I had my first opportunity to put my resolution to use when we returned from our holiday travels and Tara announced that both bathroom sinks were draining unacceptably slow.  I did not call the plumber (although I really wanted to).  Instead, I headed to the hardware store.  Cleaning sink drains is one task in which I actually have a little experience, which means I both know somewhat how to do it as well as how much I dislike doing it.  Hair likes to get caught on the plunger mechanism, which in turn collects gunk and more hair, surreptitiously growing into quite the little drain monster until the drain no longer works.

I spent a fair amount of time in the plumbing aisle at Home Depot surveying the arsenal of drain-cleaning apparatuses and scheming.  Then I saw it.  A snake-looking device about 3 ft. long with a spring-loaded claw on the end.  This would be my Golden Gun.  I grabbed some rubber gloves, goggles, and a thing of Draino and headed into battle.

The task proved to be surprisingly easy with my well-chosen tools and planning.  Both drains were cleaned and working like new in under an hour.  It was disgustingly satisfying.  Kind of like popping a zit.

I feel like a friggin’ champion.  Unfortunately, small bathroom fixes are not unlike seeing an old manly movie like The Godfather for the first time in 2013.  Nobody wants to hear about it.  I, however, have a solution to this quandary: a blog.

So thank you for reading.  I’m definitely glad I didn’t call the plumber this time.  Now to use the money I saved on lift tickets…

Painting an Accent Wall

This past weekend, Tara and I took on our very first home improvement project in our house.  We painted an accent wall!  We both have pretty limited experience when it comes to painting actual walls, so we were a little nervous, but it ended up being surprisingly easy and only really took a few hours.  I’ll even put a step by step in case someone actually deems my expertise worth emulating.

  1. Get samples ($3 each at Home Depot) and paint little patches of each.  Don’t go thinking that floor/baseboard coverage is not necessary for this step.  Even though the spots you’ll be painting are nowhere near anything, white baseboards attract red paint, especially if gravity is involved.
  2. Let the samples dry and evaluate under a variety of lighting.
  3. Go back and buy the winner.  We like the paint that has the primer built in.  Totally idiot proof.
  4. Remove outlet covers, etc.  No, you don’t need to turn off the outlets at the breaker (Unless you have a propensity for sticking screw drivers in open outlets).
  5. Time to mask.  This is by far the most time consuming part.  Frog Tape is the way to go.  Use a putty knife to help evenly press down the tape.
  6. Put on some music that fosters good, smooth brush strokes.  Pink Floyd is absolutely perfect.   Almost euphoric.
  7. Paint the edges with a regular brush.  Evidently this is called “Cutting In“.
  8. Hit the rest of the surface with a roller.  Turns out there is no wrong way to do this as long as you don’t press too hard and ensure each part of the wall receives several passes to evenly spread out the paint.  I spent about half an hour watching videos online and each one described a different technique with at least one comment from a “professional” painter ripping the method shown.
  9. Wash the brushes out with soap & water (unless you got oil-based paint–then you use Everclear followed immediately by fire)
  10. Let it dry for a few hours and repeat 5 & 6 (unless your skills are far superior to ours and you got it in one coat).
  11. Remove the masking.  Frog Tape advises removing the tape while the paint is still wet so it doesn’t tear.  This seems completely unpractical to me since multiple coats is almost always required.  We waited until the paint was almost completely dry and didn’t have any problems.


Now, before the pros rip me apart, heres a couple pics:











Dresser Refurb

My coffee table refurb was so successful that we decided to paint our old dressers matching colors to get some more mileage out of them.  It sort of counts as our first DIY project with the new house.  


Preparation Pictures!

Look at that huge garage!


The expensive paint


First coat!

It's not black, I promise


Yes, mine is the white one…



The finished product!!  (We have plans of painting the walls something that is not white)












Coffee Table Refurb

Our college-era coffee table was a bit of an eye-sore in the living room.  I was in a DIY mood, so I decided to paint it.  Spray paint has always been my favorite medium when it comes to painting.  This mostly likely comes from my days of painting skate ramps as a youngster.  The thing I love about spray paint is that it is so idiot proof.  Hold the can far enough away, keep it moving, and you can’t go wrong.  I used two colors: black to match our couch, and a deep red to go with our wine theme.  I also painted the metal handles gold so they’d really pop.


The car port is a perfect place for painting projects.

Before Picture



Sanding officially sucks

Sanding.  Admittedly, I gave up on this after a friend told me you only need to sand if you’re going to re-stain.


A little bit of the new floor here too.

Finished product!  And Tara’s foot…


What's yer handle?



This was like a 10 sec exposure.


Reader participation time!!  We’re shopping for an area rug to go under the coffee table.  What color should we go with?  We were thinking white…

Nasty Carpet (Not an innuendo, I promise)

In the 8 months that Tara and I have lived in our rental house, we’ve been pleased with just about everything except the living/dining room carpet.  The people that lived there before us evidently had a small dog that peed all over the carpet.  Stains are one thing, but this stunk.  It was this weird, subtle smell that you don’t notice right away (part of the reason why we didn’t notice it when we looked at the house), but was practically overwhelming once you catch a whiff of it.  After months of fighting a loosing battle with the odor with home remedies as well as professional cleaning, we were ready for drastic measures.  Aware that there was a hard wood floor under the carpet thanks to a neighbor that knew the previous owners, I called the landlord and got permission to rip up the carpet.

The whole project couldn’t have gone better.  The floor under the carpet is immaculate, or as immaculate as it can be for being circa 1920.  No nasty surprises—we had the carpet ripped up, hauled out, tack strips ripped up, and the floor polished in 4 hours. Thus, like the dryer, Tara asked: “So why couldn’t we have done this months ago?”



Lovely color, isn’t it?



The process begins



You can see the stains!  Even the pad was disgusting.



Amazing wood floor that never should have been covered up



Goodbye tack strips



The final steps


I guess I don’t have any pictures of the finished floor with the furniture back in place.  Oh well.  Next step will be to replace those old ratty curtains.


Tara saw the title and said: “Aandreeewww!”