Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at Chez Neumansky 3.0

Now, we've never been really big on the whole Christmas decoration thing...Halloweens our thing. People have always said things to us during Halloween time like, 'Wow, I can't wait to see what your Christmas decorations look like...' and we'd just kinda look at them and smile...we've never really even owned any Christmas decorations until this year.
Not This Year!
Christmas at Chez Neumansky 3.0
Please be kind we've never decorated for this holiday before......and dang buying all this stuff even on sale adds up fast....

Outside Decorations

We replaced the 40W bulbs in the fence post lights with flicker bulbs and then put Santa hats on all the lights. Thank you dollar store for the cheap Santa Hats.

Maybe this should be a recurring theme with us? Pumpkins on Halloween, Santa Hats at Christmas...uh, Bunny Ears at Easter??? Uh, Leprechaun hats on St. Pats day???

Also, copying from Halloween we put a lighted garland all around the perimeter of the front yard...luckily the stuff was seriously on sale at Walgreen's..
We added a ton of decorations from the dollar store to this simple garland to dress it up. We put candy canes on it for people to eat and I don't think a single one was taken!?!?! That sure is a change from the ghetto I tell you what...

BBB had a sale on fancier garland and small wreaths that you can see here also.
Arty Shot...
 
Here's the best attempt at an overall outdoor shot..though we still missed half the decorations...
We also did the lighted tree thing up the walk way that you can see in the picture above.

Wouldn't be Christmas without the Menorah

Or the 'tree in the window' thing.

If you head up the steps to the porch you were greeted with this cheery site.
We tried to make the big incorrect columns look like 'candy canes'. The garland and wreath here were the fancier BBB stuff.

Stepping inside

More fancy BBB garland going up the stairs.

Mrs. Madmadscientist did this really nice thing with the lights.

She wove greenery into the lights and put hung ornaments from them...looked exactly like something out of a fancy catalog like Grandin Road or Frontgate. You can see some of the other lights in the other shots but unfortunately this is the only closeup shot of one of the lights...
 
And of course the Christmas-Solstice tree.
 Look, we even shelled out for a tree skirt.



We went with a color theme. Red, Sliver and white for the tree. We also got a big G-scale train to run around the track..that was my favorite Solstice present.

We even did the very traditional Christmas village on the mantle with our stockings.

But wait, look a little bit closer at that Christmas village....something doesn't seem quite right there...

Yep we have a Nightmare Before Christmas village.  We even got the fake snow blanket and some greenery. This was a hit at night with baby madmadscientist...she loved to inspect all the lighted houses and flick the little vampire boy on a spring on top of one of them.

Nice overall shot of the Christmas room.

We also lit Hanukkah candles
Love this fake fireplace...somehow having it going made things seem more Christmassy.

The final stocking-mantle set-up.

Pre Santa

Post Santa
Check out the eaten cookies, carrots and milk.....definite proof that Santa and the reindeer were there.

Here's something that we shoulda known....

Cats Love Christmas!!!!

Check out this selection of pics showing cats doing what they do best...destroy decorations...
Oh, the indignities that poor Christmas village suffered....

The cats loved the train...

Well that's it.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice to everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fence go BOOM! New-ish Fence

Subtitled: How I spent two whole weeks working on a 3 day job.....
A couple weeks ago we had some seriously strong winds blow through Alameda.
One of the casualties was several sections of our fence.
  
insert picture of blown down fence here (if I woulda remembered to take any)

So, my 82 years young neighbor and I set about fixing the fence together....he originally built the fence either 30 or 40 years ago all by himself. I think that for a fence to last 30 years is pretty good, don't you? Of course, back then fences were made out of all-heart old-growth redwood and were substantially more weather/rot resistant.

   insert in progress pictures here (if I had remembered to take any)

After Shots!

Here are the sections that we rebuilt.
It was 4 sections in all.

Here you can see the mix of old and new wood.

This section has just old pieces that we re purposed to make do.

Here's where the old posts failed in the wind storm.
 The arrow points to where the fence post used to be. You can see that its pretty rotted away.

What's odd to me is that the part of the post that was buried in the soil below the fence footing was actually not anywhere near as rotted as the top part that was exposed to air.

To replace the two completely rotted out posts we used a 10" by 2' sonotube to form the pier or footing...not sure what it should be called.

New Post Footings

We decided on using these brackets because they will keep the posts from rotting and they are adjustable. Our neighbor on the other side did the same thing and he really likes them. It was a little weird and different for my partner but he was won over by how its performing on the neighbors fence. These brackets seem so perfect for the job yet Simpson says that they are not intended to be used for fence posts? I really don't understand that. Do any of you?

In addition to the two completely broken posts there were two that still appeared to be in good shape but were a little loose in their footings.

I found these Simpson fence post mender brackets at economy lumber and we gave them a try.

They are pretty beefy steel that you pound down along the post and then attach with their structural screws. These really firmed up the fence posts, especially since we packed the area around it with the extra concrete. These felt just as firm as the new posts-footings.

They don't make em like that anymore.
I've never built or really even thought about building a fence before so I had no idea what the reality is. We first went to Home Despot to see if they magically carried replacement fence parts...nope..actually the selection of redwood at Home Despot was shockingly bad...didn't really have anything that we could use...So, next we went to economy lumber..where, yes, they carried a large selection of rough, all-heart redwood to build the fence with. Wow, that stuff's expensive...but not in the pre-made tongue and groove style that my partner was insisting that we replicate exactly......so we got to do it all 'by hand'.

Routing Craziness.

Here's a shot of the 2nd from the top 2by4 in the fence.

It is routed on the one side to accept the fence board, and on the other for the weird green wavy plastic stuff....The fence board rabbit is 7/8" wide by 1/2" deep...did it in one pass!! Man that created a lot of saw dust. I had to route every single horizontal piece plus both sides of each new 4by4 post.

Because we used rough redwood the bottom 1by12 board was two wide to fit into the existing rabbits on the fence posts...so, out came the Harbor Fright power planer and zing, zing, zing I shaved down the ends of the boards to form a tongue.

Handmade finials

My partner handmade the finials on the fence on his ancient Black&Decker table saw!!
After we finished the fence he actually made two more outta an old 4by6 fence post!

Speaking of old guardless table saws with adull blade and non-parallel fences....

Thank god it was just really a glancing blow....I tell ya there was a couple of scary minutes between doing it, swearing like a sailor, and getting the glove off and getting the wound cleaned out before I could tell it was superficial. I've had worse cuts cooking. 

Next Up, Chez Neumansky Decorated for Christmas???

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Halloween Night!!!

Now that its almost Christmas I should finally get around to finishing up the Halloween stuff no??

Now, without further ado,...a metric f-ton of Halloween People Pics.
These are pics of people who came to help, to visit or just gawk...

But first, an important announcement....

Our 'official' tally for number of people that came through the yard haunt is.....

1500 Freaking People!!!

Nope that's not a typo we went from basically 150 people to 1500 people in the new 'hood.....and we still had fricken candy left over!!! We were so worried about running out of candy that a bunch of our helpers brought BIG bags...but don't worry..its been slowly disappearing...buurp....

Okay now the pics...
We had Zombies.


 She's a Zom-beee..get it?
Theres a great story to go along with this picture. This person was working Bob for a while on Halloween night...Some punkass teen boys snuck around the fence on the neighbors side to see how Bob worked. Well, standing on tippy toes they could just see the back of his head. They yelled out stupid stuff like, 'Look, its just a guy on a computer...' At this point Ben turned around and jumped up in their faces and gave them his best zombie growl...Those kids musta jumped up and back 5 feet easy and literally went screaming down the street...

We had families in costume.







We had super cute kids.







We had friends who were crazy enough to give up their Halloween night for us.





 Laura Croft.
 This is our good friend Lucci playing with baby madmadscientist. He was our carnival barker-gate keeper. We needed him desperately to control the flow of people through the haunt and he was super entertaining in his own right.



 These past three pics are of our friend Matt. He was soooo super awesome at scaring kids that he deserves special mention. He was doing the 'am I real or a dummy' thing in the graveyard and just scaring the pants off of everybody.

This is Heather/Medusa-she also gets a super special mention. She was working the foot controls for the trash can trauma and the zombie prop. Her sense of timing was just so perfect that she was getting amazing reactions from people.

We had Grandpa and Grandma
 Grandma was a trooper stuck around all night and handed out candy. One piece per child no matter what...

Here's the group of people who stuck around to the bitter end and even helped us clean up after...
Can you tell how crazy tired we all are from this shot?
We really appreciated all the help guys.

Mr. and Mrs. MadMadScientist after a loooooooong couple of days...

See, we can still stand each other!

and baby madmadscientist fast asleep...
with her new favorite sleeping buddy...

Did I mention that the in-laws were also visiting at this time?

Next up, sometime before New Year, videos from Halloween night.