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Sunday, June 18, 2017

DIY Summer Oasis Playhouse

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoofedItMyself #CollectiveBias



With an energetic toddler, we needed something in the backyard that would keep her busy for the summer months. I decided to design a playhouse to serve that purpose. I wanted it to be multi-functional-- not something that she would easily get bored with. I think it turned out great and so far she hasn't been bored!

We also wanted the playhouse to look nice in the backyard-- something that beautified the yard rather than made it look cluttered and junky. This is where the hubby came in. He's a carpenter by trade, so when I told him my idea-- he quickly drew up a plan and got to work!




And so the Summer Oasis Playhouse was created. To keep the backyard looking classy, we knew we wanted to add shingles to the roof. We started the project by visiting the GAF Roofing Center at Lowe's. It's set up to show the different types of shingles on a good, better, and best spectrum. It's located on an endcap and is a great place to look at all of the shingle colors and styles. Everything that you need for your roofing project is located all in one general area.




We decided on the Timberline® Shingles brand since it's the best selling brand in North America. We used Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles, FeltBuster® High Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt, and TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingles. You can learn more at the GAF Website or Facebook Page.

I also wanted the playhouse to have an open concept where she could enjoy a nice breeze yet still be shaded from the sun. We added shingles to the roof and siding on portions of the playhouse so that it matches well with our home. Little Miss Sunshine is going to have so much fun this summer.



The front of the playhouse is open with an attached "bench" that is large enough for an adult to sit on and relax while the little one plays. It's also the perfect height and size for a small children's table.



One side of the playhouse was built with a lemonade stand in mind. It features a wooden countertop that sticks out past the exterior of the playhouse to serve as a "bar" type area. Children will have endless amounts of fun playing restaurant, ice cream shop, coffee shop, or lemonade stand. There are so many possibilities! It's the perfect height for children and adults alike to pull up a chair and enjoy a cold drink or even a meal.




The opposite wall features a chalkboard which runs from the floor to the ceiling. It's the perfect spot for little artists to draw with sidewalk chalk, write a menu for their pretend restaurant, or even to play school.



Half the length of the playhouse is a sandbox-- it's the perfect size for a couple of small children to play in, but still gives room for an open area near the bar area so it's easy to walk in.



The backside of the playhouse is made to look like a wooden fence with slats and provides a cool breeze, a perfect view of the outdoors, additional lighting in the playhouse, and a nice style. Eventually, I would like to plant sunflowers, or something along the exterior of this fence side that would grow up along the fence and add some greenery-- the perfect gardening project for littles.




This project is easy enough for anyone to do-it-yourself. It does take a considerable amount of time to assemble. Hubby worked on it on the weekends and in the evenings after work. The good thing is that it's a project that can be completed in stages and you can stop here and there when you need to.

Want to build one for your littles? Here are some instructions so you can DIY!

Material List:


  • 4 brick pavers
  • 2- 4x8 osb or cdx plywood sheets (1/2" - 5/8")
  • 5- 1/4" - 1/2" plywood sheets
  • 2- 8' 1x6 cedar
  • 2- 10' 1x6 cedar
  • 3- 4x4x8' cedar
    • cut 4- 4' long pieces
    • use others for bracing purposes
  • 2- 2x4 8' cedar
    • cut at 64"
  • 9- 6' dog eared cedar
    • cut at 4'
  • 7- 10' 2x4 (also use for cuts below)
    • cut 14 pieces at 48" at an 8/12 pitch long point to short point
  • 13- 8' 2x4
    • cut 2 at 7'
    • cut 3 at 81"
    • cut 6 at 18"
    • cut 6 at 43 1/2"
  • 2- 8' 2x4 green treated
    • cut 2 at 81"
  • 6- 8' 2x6 green treated
    • cut 3 at 64"
    • cut 2 at 81"
    • cut 1 custom for sandbox
  • 8- 8' 5/4 decking boards
    • cut 15- 20" boards
    • the rest are used to custom the bench top
  • 4- 8' 1x4 white pvc trim (wood grain)
  • 4- 10' drip edge (white)
  • 4x4 smooth cement board (if building chalkboard)
  • 11 - 8' x 7 1/4" James Hardie Board siding
  • 2 lbs. 3" deck screws (or 16p nails)
  • 1 lb. 1 5/8" deck screws
  • 2 lb. 8p sinker nails
  • 2 lb. 1 1/4" galvanized steel roofing nails
  • 1 lb. 1 3/4" galvanized steel roofing nails
  • 1 small box 1" round plastic cap roofing nails
  • 1 roll FeltBuster® High Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt
  • 2 bundles Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles (Pewter Gray)
  • 1 bundle TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingles (Pewter Gray)
  • 1 tube Black Jack caulk
  • 1 qt. black chalkboard paint (if building chalkboard)
  • sand for sandbox

Tool list: 

  • hammer
  • impact drill
  • 2' level
  • 6' level
  • triangle square
  • tape measure
  • carpenter's pencil
  • skil saw / saw
  • grinder (if used cement board for chalkboard)
  • utility knife
  • scissor style tin snips
  • PVC coated gloves
  • safety glasses
  • 6' ladder
  • saw horses
  • shovel


Instructions:


Step 1: Select the location where you want your playhouse to stand. Level out the area where the four corners will be located and place a brick paver in each corner to act as a footing for stability. (see pictures in step 2)

Step 2: (If needed) Using a shovel, level out the outline of the perimeter so that you have leveled the ground for the four sides of the playhouse. My hubby is a carpenter so he had a leveling laser for this step but you could also use string lines and a long level (for these instructions click here).




Step 3 & 4: To form the perimeter and an outline to build the outside walls, screw 2- 81" and 2- 64" 2x6 green treated boards to the 4- 4x4 cedar corner posts with 3" deck screws.




Step 5: Using 3" screws (or 16p nails), fasten the 6- 43 1/2" 2x4 studs together, 16" on center in between the top white plate (2x4) and bottom green treated plate to assemble the full wall.




Step 6: (Wall 1) Place the assembled wall in between the two plumb corner posts and fasten the wall to the corner posts with 3" screws. Place the third plate on top of the wall and fasten with 3" screws or 16p nails.




Step 7: (Wall 2) Turn two 2x4 cedar boards flat and install them in between the two exterior 4x4 cedar posts using 3" screws. With 1 5/8" deck screws, fasten the 9- 4' dog-eared cedar slat boards (fencing) to the 2- 64" 2x4 cedar boards.




Step 8: (Wall 3) Notch the two 4x4 cedar corner posts 3 1/2" deep (top to bottom) and 1 1/2" wide (from the inside out). See photos below. This will act as the support for the 2 ply 2x4 header for the rafters.










Glue and screw together the 2- 7' 2x4s with 3" deck screws from both sides of the boards with a two screw pattern, 12" on center. Place in between the two notched cedar posts and screw together with 3" screws from the outside of the posts into the header. (See Step 7, photo 2)


Step 9 & 10: (Wall 3) Build a shorter wall opposite the tall wall to act as a little bar area. Assemble the same as done in step 5.

Assemble the countertop using a qty. of 15 20" cut 5/4 cedar deck boards by screwing them to the top of the short wall with 1 5/8" deck screws. We installed ours with 4" to the inside and 1' to the outside. Later, we installed a bracing system for this table after the siding was applied. The braces were made out of the 4x4 cut offs from the corner posts and a second layer of 5/4 cedar deck boards under the countertop. (see step 28)



Step 11: (Rafters) We decided on an 8/12 pitch so we will give instructions based on that. However, you can choose the pitch of the roof and adjust accordingly.

Using a triangle square, make a line with an 8/12 pitch common, and then cut. From the long point of your cut, measure 4' down the board and then make another cut exactly like the first so that the pitches are going the same direction.

Cut a birdsmouth in the rafter at the location of where the plates/header will be. You can determine where to cut by screwing two together, holding them out on the edge of the building at the corner post location.



Make sure the point of the two rafters is directly centered/plumb on the building, hold it against the 2- 4x4 exterior corner posts. Trace on the backside of your rafter for the birdsmouth. Do not cut more than 1/3 of the depth of the rafter when cutting the birdsmouth. Also, do not over cut your trace marks as this will weaken the board-- using a jigsaw is recommended in this application. This makes sure it is structurally sound. There is a formula for acquiring the length and depth of the birdsmouth but it was not necessary to use on this small of a project. We used trial and error.




Assemble five of these rafters.

Step 12:  Install the five rafters 2' on center by toe-nailing each rafter to the top plate/header with 3" deck screws. Once installed, we placed 2x4s (about a foot down) on each rafter to act as a sag brace.




Step 13: Sheet the roof with the two sheets of 5/8" (or 1/2") osb or cdx plywood. Make sure the overhang is the same on both sides before nailing it down with 8p sinker nails every 6" on center.




Step 14: Add two more rafters (without birdsmouths) per end at the outer edge of the roof sheeting to act as the gable-end fascia board. Nail 1x6" cedar boards to the rafter tails (past the edge of the wall) with 8p galvanized nails for facia trim (see third photo below-- although not shown in this picture, a 1x6" cedar board will be applied to the gable end as well).



Step 15: Install the drip edge by measuring the length of the sheeting and cutting the drip edge to size. Screw/nail (1") this down to the sheeting with the short profile over the face of the fascia and the long profile on top of the sheeting.



Step 16: For the gable ends, cut a notch in the short profile (as shown in the picture) in the center of a full piece of the drip edge. Bend it over the top of the peak of the gable end and cut to length at the edge of the drip edge that you previously installed.



Slightly notch the end of your cut so that you can bend the sharp point around the corner to finish it out.



Step 17: Install the FeltBuster® High Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt over the top of the roof sheeting with 1 1/4" round plastic cap roofing nails. Nail at pre-marked locations. Make sure the FeltBuster® does not stick past any edge of the roof, if it does-- cut it off with a utility knife.







Step 18: Apply a shingle starter strip by either turning a shingle upside down so that the tar is facing upwards or by using manufactured starter shingle strips. This is what seals the first row of shingles down to your roof.  (as seen towards the right edge in picture one below)

Using 1 1/4" galvanized roofing nails, install the Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles by stair-stepping at least 6" and cut the starters and finishers as required so that it is even with the edge of the drip edge. The next row will start at the top edge of the architectural cutout of the previous shingle (as seen in picture three below). Nail 5 evenly spaced nails just above the architectural cutout so the nails do not show when the next shingle is placed above.

(The shingles look great and we were impressed with how durable they are! They are sure to last a long time.)




Cut any excess shingles past the ridge peak off.



Step 19: Install TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingles. These are pre-perforated in the package. Bend them until they break into three individual pieces, as shown below.




Use a piece of starter strip, or turn a TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingle upside down so that the first cap has something to stick to (as described in shingle installation).



Nail these down with 1 3/4" galvanized roofing nails. There is a notch on the cap that shows where to start the next cap. Always nail on the outer edge of the cap so that your nail will not be exposed by your next piece installed. Center the cap on the peak of the building and run a straight line until finished. Cut the excess so that it is even with the edge of the drip edge.



Caulk the two exposed nails with black jack or similar.



Step 20: For safety reasons (see nails sticking out below), install 1/4" or 1/2" sheeting to the underside of your rafters. If you use 1/4", you may want to install extra backing for nailers because the 1/4" does not span 2' on center and could be wavy.




Step 21: (optional) Add decorative features to cover voids, as shown below.



Step 22: You may add a corner brace to make the building stronger, as shown in the first picture below.

Build the bench by screwing a ledger board to the exterior wall and some upright 2x6s (backing boards) to support the bench top (as shown in the 4th picture).

Screw 5/4 cedar boards to the top of the ledger board and backing boards. The bench is 100% customizable to the height and depth that you prefer. Cut the boards accordingly.



Step 23: Install white vinyl trim board along the perimeter of the exterior walls. Next, install the siding you prefer. If you have not yet, install the bracing to the bar side.




Step 24: Install the chalkboard using 18g galvanized nails with nail gun or 8p nails.



Step 25: Build the Sandbox: There are many ways you could create a perimeter for the sandbox within the playhouse. Determine what you would like and measure 2x6 green treated and cut to length. Screw to the 2x6 green treated base of the building using 3" deck screws.



Step 26: Put in the sand and start playing! You can see how excited Little Miss Sunshine was!




And that's it, you're finished! I added chalk, sandbox toys, and bowls/cups from the a dollar store. Now there are hours of playtime and entertainment ahead!







Do you have a project that you would use GAF Roofing on? I'd love to hear about it!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shared Medical Appointment #1



Today was the first shared medical appointment in my new weight loss program. This is a medically supervised weight loss program and we meet in groups every couple of weeks. I think there are about 15-20 people in my class, but I didn't count.

I love the concept of a shared medical appointment for those with chronic conditions-- in this case being obesity and obesity related conditions. Thinking about it as a shared doctor's appointment made me realize that I am learning so much more this way as opposed to just a one-on-one visit with the doctor.

Chances are, when someone has a questions there are others that have the same question-- even if they haven't thought of it yet, which is what I do at doctor's appointments! I always think of questions to ask once I've left the office.

We each still had a one-on-one visit with the doctor. I had just seen him a couple of days ago, so mine was pretty short! However, following the nutritionist's advice at my first appointment has led to a couple of pounds lost already and I've only completed one (now almost two) days. The official "diet" actually begins tomorrow-- so I guess I'll call that extra credit that I started a little early! I figured why not get started NOW rather than wait.

A large portion of the meeting was with the nutritionist. He cooked two different healthy entrees and we each had a sample. While cooking, he taught us proper ways to cut veggies, told us nutritional information and also answered questions.

I learned a lot and the food was delicious and colorful! I really need to go get a full load of groceries so that I can have success. I even ate peppers, which I'm not a huge fan of. I'm going to try to force myself to learn to like them. I don't hate them, but they're not my favorite veggie. Peas, on the other hand, I will not force myself to try to like. That's just not possible. I hate them.

I think a huge part of being able to maintain with something like this is taking the time to cook delicious food. I love grilled food so I want to start grilling more or even find my George Forman grill to make it more convenient for me.

I've been very hungry today but haven't had a lot of time to eat either. The doctor told me that after 2-3 days I won't be so hungry. I love how they understand that it's impossible to stick to a diet if you're hungry all the time-- and it certainly isn't maintainable to be hungry all of the time! This is why fat is so important in a diet, contrary to popular belief.

I'm not going to lie-- I made a batch of brownies the night before I knew I was going to begin. I enjoyed brownies and ice cream (my favorite dessert) as my farewell to obesity and promptly packed up the brownies and gave them to a friend the next day! I'm glad I did because it's so easy to mindlessly eat when I'm stressed out or tired. I paid for those brownies though-- let me tell you! I had horrible heartburn that night and the next day.

The last couple of days I've had a huge improvement in my eating. I feel better, less bloated, and have a better outlook overall. I cannot hide my anxiety like I usually can though! They take my blood pressure each visit! It was sky high again today-- my body tends to think I'm in danger a lot, apparently. I'll be tracking it at home to get a better idea of what my blood pressure has really been like.

The next two weeks are very important. The doctor described them as like building the foundation. If you build a house with a foundation that is all messed up, then nothing else will work right either-- the windows will be out of whack, the walls not plumb, the floors crooked, etc. I'm going to give it my all at 100%.

One thing about this is that I am 100% convinced because not only are we given instruction, but we were given a book about the science behind it. It makes sense, it coincides with my own experience with obesity, food, and with my failed experiences with mainstream diets.

Anyone can have success if they starve themself with a calorie deficit, but is it maintainable in the long run? For myself, absolutely not. I've lost weight numerous times and I've never been able to keep that weight off for good. This is the same experience of most of the people I know.

So yeah, I'm excited about this! At the same time, I'm still jaded and afraid that nothing will ever work for me. I'm betting that the proof is in the carb-free pudding and I'll have more confidence the longer I'm experiencing the program.








Wednesday, June 14, 2017

You won't believe this




I saw a new doctor yesterday and you won't believe what I found out. It was enough to make my jaw drop when he told me. I wanted to cry.

My first visit, as part of a medically supervised weight loss program (totally healthy, BTW), lasted an hour and a half and consisted of going over every aspect of my health and history with obesity. This included family history, diets I have tried, what I'm currently eating, and medications that I'm taking.

For once, I felt like a doctor was truly listening to me. Not only that, but he understood me. He has been researching obesity for years and has developed a program that is in its early years, but one that has seen a lot of success at not only helping people with chronic obesity related diseases lose weight, but go off of medications and also maintain the weight loss.

That gives you a small picture of the background of this program and I plan on blogging about it as I continue my weight loss journey. The last year or so has left me feeling like there truly was no hope left-- I actually found this program through a series of searches, beginning with bariatric surgery. I have been trying diet after diet and failing absolutely miserably at it. Not only that, my weight has PACKED ON over the last few years-- but at an even more drastic amount in the past year.

So what was so shocking that the doctor told me?

It all begins in early 2013 when I was switched to a blood pressure medication that was deemed safe for pregnancy. I have continued on this medication until just yesterday-- so over four years.

Yesterday, the doctor told me that I immediately needed to stop taking that medication because it has been known to cause depression and even considerable numbers of suicide. Wow. Just. Wow.

So it's possible that the pregnancy filled with anxiety and stress, followed by postpartum depression, severe anxiety, and overall the worst experience of my life-- could have been caused simply by a medication. Not to mention the fact that I've had a history of turning to food to cope.

And for FOUR YEARS, not one physician even brought up the possibility that it could have been caused by a medication. Instead, I was put on an additional three medications for depression and anxiety and also sent to counseling. Overall, I saw a total of seven physicians who all had my medication list. In one day at a new health system, a doctor and a pharmacist were baffled as to why I was on this outdated medication.

Not only that, do you remember this post? The one where I intentionally went to my doctor to ask her WHY I was still having such severe bouts of depression and that it was so out of character for me to feel how I was feeling? The one where she was downright disrespectful of me and basically just told me that I needed to lose weight?

That's right-- not one concern was shown for my intuition that something wasn't right. And I am here two more years later still dealing with those same bouts of depression-- the kind where I will suddenly feel like I don't even want to live any more. Thankfully, I have grown to recognize these patterns but I have spent years doubting myself and showering myself in guilt and shame.

It truly makes me begin to distrust the medical community. That's a broad assumption to distrust the entire medical community and I do know that my new doctor is certainly an exception-- his goal is to get his patients off of medication. Isn't that the way that it should be? Shouldn't we be curing illnesses rather than stacking medicine upon medicine in an attempt to mask the symptoms?

Let's not even mention the fact that one of the medications I'm on for anxiety is also known to cause weight gain. A combination of factors have led to the perfect storm and I'm left tattered.

My hope is now that I'm on a different blood pressure medication, my overall disposition will begin to return to who I was four years ago. At that time, I had been through some life challenges that were stressful and was trying so hard to get back on my feet again in the weight loss game.

I have been combing through my medical records and I figured this out-- from the time I began truly struggling with my weight, as in beginning to gain a little bit from my absolute lowest weight, only six months passed before I started the medication and the rest is history.

There's no use in getting hung up on the woulda, shoulda, couldas-- but it is still mind-blowing to think about it. I'm hopeful that things will slowly begin to change for me in the weight department and I can become the girl I worked so hard to become when I was on top of my game.

I guess the next year or so should tell!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

5 Ways to Keep Your Cat Safe from Your Toddler

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CatsLoveNutrish #CollectiveBias



Our first babies were the two cats that we rescued from a farm eight years ago. Fast forward and now we have a baby of our own-- a three year old, energetic, curious, and destructive little princess! At first I was worried about protecting our little girl from the cats, which I think is a concern of most new parents. However, as she grew from a crawling baby to a toddler, we quickly learned it was the other way around-- it's the cats that need the most protecting protecting from her!




For everyone's safety, it's important to be aware of both the toddler and the cat. A toddler doesn't intentionally hurt a cat, but if they do so-- the cat will most likely react simply out of self-protection. There's really no blame to be had on either end in that situation. To avoid these situations, an adult should be present while the toddler interacts with the cat.





Here are five things that we do to protect our cats from our little girl, AKA Little Miss Sunshine:


1. Cats Need Good Nutrition



A healthy cat is a happy cat. While you make sure to provide your children with the best possible nutrition, why wouldn't you do so for your cat? Choosing a high quality cat food is important!

Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Indoor Complete Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Recipe is a good choice. It contains a real superfood blend that meets the complete needs of your cat-- including a healthy weight, good digestion, and immunity.

Print out a $2 off coupon to use in-store for Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Indoor Complete Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Recipe by clicking here.

Nutrish Complete Indoor Coupon

With some cat foods, there is concern about the safety of the ingredients but you don't have to worry about that with Nutrish Indoor Complete. It is safely USA cooked with real, wholesome ingredients and without any ingredients from China. 

The #1 ingredient in the fiber-rich blend is U.S. farm-raised chicken-- real salmon is also used. There are also natural prebiotics from pumpkin and dandelion greens to help support healthy digestion and antioxidant-rich berries to help support healthy immunity.

Nutrish Indoor Complete is available at most places where you buy your family's groceries, and also available online. I found it on the Walmart website when I used the grocery pickup service. It was so easy!

I searched "Nutrish Indoor Complete" and the first two results that popped up were the Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Indoor Complete Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Recipe options with two sizes available.



A portion of the proceeds from each sale go towards the Rachael Ray Foundation, which helps animals in need through Rachael's Rescue. You can't go wrong there!

2. Provide a Safe Space for Your Cat



If there is too much noise and chaos, a cat will likely become uncomfortable due to their sensitive ears. Cats prefer a quiet and calm atmosphere and if there's a toddler around-- the atmosphere will be anything but quiet and calm! This is why it's important to provide a safe place for your cat to escape to.

For us, the basement is off limits for our little girl. The cats know that they can escape to the basement to escape HER! It's quiet and they have a safe place to hide. This is also where we keep the cat food and litter boxes-- places where they especially need their privacy. They can also enjoy our enclosed porch in peace.

While we set boundaries for Little Miss Sunshine, we also set boundaries for our feline friends. The cats are not allowed in the second level of our home where our bedrooms are. The bedroom is a safe space for Little Miss Sunshine too!


3. Model Interaction Behavior 



Teach your child how to interact with your cat. This includes showing your child how to properly pet a cat by stroking the fur from the head towards the tail. When your toddler inevitably grabs a fistful of fur, gently tell him/her that it hurts the cat and remove their hands from the cat. Do not allow tail pulling. 

There is no better way to teach your child how to treat a cat than by modeling the correct way when you are interacting with the cat. It may take a little time, but eventually your child and the cat can develop a loving relationship.

4. Be an Advocate for Your Cat




If your cat appears stressed, make sure he/she has access to their safe place (see #1). Pay attention to the signs that your cat is giving you-- the look of fear or anger in his/her eyes or frustrated meowing. You may need to physically pick up your cat and put him/her in a safe place away from your toddler for a while. 

It's important to be aware of what causes your cat stress, such as loud noises or a room full of people. In these situations, prepare ahead and place your cat in the safe space to avoid any issues. 

5. Cats Need Attention Too




Let's face it, toddlers are exhausting and can take up every ounce of your energy. You have to keep a constant watch to make sure they're not into something they're not supposed to be, climbing on top of who knows what, or sticking something in their noses or mouths that should not be there. We spend the majority of our time with our toddlers teaching, molding, and loving them.

But don't forget about your cat! Cats need love and attention too. Most cats will purr loudly when petted or held, proving that they need more love than they might have you believe. Take time to give your cat special attention.




What ways do you keep your cat safe from your toddler? Has your cat tried Nutrish Indoor Complete?

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