Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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On the Shelf

June 11, 2014 |
posted by Ana White

Well, I’ve been dreading writing this post.  

You know that feeling when you give someone something and they put it on the shelf and never use it? I’ve got some disappointing news – my mom has decided for now that she isn’t ready to move into her side of the Momplex.

I know – I’ve had so many mixed feelings about this, and have been dreading having to let you down as well.  I am so terribly sorry to let you down.

We’ve got one Mom moved in, and she loves her new house.  But Mom #2, my own Mom, has her own reasons why she doesn’t want to move yet.  I say yet because we designed the Momplex units to be energy efficient, single level living – so when Mom does change her mind when she’s “old”, low maintenance easy living will be ready for her.

We’ve known this for a little while, and you have probably noticed that our enthusiasm level for working up at the Momplex has dropped off after getting Mom #1 moved in.  It’s certainly harder to put your heart into something when you know it’s just going on the shelf.

But we’ve been keeping at it, getting projects done, and with the new baby, time has been scarce anyway.  I’m delighted to say that we are almost done with the entire Momplex!

But what to do with this empty unit until Mom #2 is ready to move in?

We won’t be renting it out – that wouldn’t be fair to Mom #1.  And we have to continue to heat it and pay utilities for it, since it’s tied into Mom #1’s house.  

So we asked Mom #2 what we should do with her unit.

She suggested we move in.

We decided to build the Momplex because we ourselves need a new house.  I know that makes no sense at all, but we both felt like even though our house is too small (especially now that we are a family of four), badly needs updates and improved energy efficiency, I couldn’t possibly start working on a second house for ourselves (especially since this time it will be our forever dream home) until we built the Momplex for our Moms.

But over the three years that we’ve put our everything into the Momplex, we’ve put on hold all of the projects at our own personal home.  We’ve been needing better insulated windows, as moisture builds up on our cheapo windows in the winter (in Alaska, the temperature difference in the winter on either side of a window can be upwards of 100 degrees causing moisture to build), which leads to mold growth.  Kids can’t be barefoot on our back deck, as it badly needs to be refinished.  Our front doorknob broke, and the weatherseal lets daylight (and the harsh Alaska winter) through.  And I’ve always been concerned that our crawlspace is not poured in concrete, which commonly in Alaska is an opportunity for radon to creep into your home.

When we built our house, we were in our twenties, building paycheck to paycheck, with a newborn baby.  There wasn’t any extra money to do any more than the basics. We couldn’t afford good windows or to pour our crawlspace in concrete.  We couldn’t afford a few extra square feet to add a mudroom or pantry, or even make bedrooms big enough to turn around in.  

And now that we are in a little better position to make updates, our family has expanded, and there’s just no room to take those projects on.  Our rooms are all already doing double (and even triple duty).  The bedroom is also a closet and where I fold laundry.  The laundry room has been converted to the coat closet. The dining room has been taken over by crafts for Grace and projects that I take on for the blog.  The living room has been eroded by adding an office to one side, and a makeshift mudroom to the other.  My former office is now the baby’s room slash storage room slash pantry and cleaning closet.  There’s just no where else for the vacuum to go.  And Grace’s room is so small, with a bed in it, she’s just got a tiny area to play underneath.  

I love our humble little home, and have been thankful to have it.  But there’s no way we could take on major projects to the home itself while living in it with a baby and child.  Where would we live while we replace windows in a room? 

So we’ve made a decision to take Mom #2 up on her offer to stay in her side of the Momplex while we update our current house.  This is a chance for us to take on all those projects, without having to camp out in the yard with a baby (the rumors about Alaska mosquitos, friendly moose and bears, and endless sun are true).  Mom #1 is of course delighted to have grandkids next door (and we are excited to have our kids next door to Grandma who makes the best fried chicken and prettiest quilts).

We don’t know how long these updates will take, or when Mom #2 wants to move in, so we’ll be making it homey in the meantime.  I have a feeling Mom #2 won’t mind some upgrades and projects we take on for her house   as well.

We thank you for following along on this journey, and feel that although this isn’t our ideal ending, it is by no means an ending.  There’s always a door open for Mom #2 whenever she decides to make the Momplex her home.

XO 

Ana+ Family

posted by Ana White

Hi everyone!  Happy Friday!

Do you remember back when we built this railing for Momplex Unit B?

We absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  And we love that not only does it protect the stair opening, but it's so substantial, it's almost like a long console table that you can lean on.

So when it came time for me to design a railing for Momplex Unit B, I wanted to keep the same substantialness, but add a modern twist to match the rest of Momplex Unit A's trendier interior.

So we decided to skip the 2x2 balusters and use cable railing instead!

Here's how it turned out:

We love the mix of wood and stainless steel!

To make this wood railing, we basically followed this plan - but without the wood balusters.

We used our Rigid compound miter saw to make all the cuts.

To build the railing, we attached from the tops and bottoms only.  Later on, we will cap the top in a 1x board, to hide all the screw holes in the top.  

The lower portion we used a pocket hole jig to attach to the 4x4 posts.

Once the basic framework was built in the garage, we moved it upstairs...

And cut the flooring back (we ran the flooring long because we had originally intended to attach the railing to the inside of the railing, instead of on top of the floor).

And then we attached the prebuilt railing frames to the floor and each other.

Note that the corners are double posted because the cable railing can't bend at a 90 degree angle.  You have to either start/stop (which costs alot in hardware) or make corners at 45 degrees as we are doing.

Once we got the main upstairs railing in place, we placed our posts for the stairs.

And then we just ran a string line down at the stair angle, and chopped the tops off the posts,

And then capped the tops of the posts with a 2x4 board.  Then we filled in the spaces underneath to match the upstairs railing.

For more information on scribing stair railings check this post out.

Once we had the basic framework for the railing built and installed, it's time to run the cabling!

First, I decided how many rows of railing we would need (code requires less than a 4" gap, but since the railing may "give" a little, I went closer to 3-1/2") and evenly spaced them.  Then I made up a jig with a piece of plywood, marked where each cable needs to be drilled out -

And then drilled out the pattern in the plywood,

And then stapled plywood to either side of the pattern piece to hold it in place on the posts -

 

Ready to drill!!!

For the 2x4 posts, we just used a standard drill bit.  But for the 4x4 posts, we got a really long drill bit -

And drilled those out.  

I was pretty impressed with Jacob's ability to drill through so square -

Especially at an angle, 5 rows running parallel.

This is no easy task, but we found having a second person to spot how parallel the drill bit is to the wood framing really helped.  Another thing you can do is place a magnetic level on the drill bit, but this only works for the straight passes. 

Once all the holes were drilled, we started running the cables.  This of course is the quick and easy part.

We used a system called Ultra-Tec.  The cabling itself is pretty cheap.  It's the hardware that costs - about $30 per start/stop.  

We started on the stair landing post. 

You thread the parts on,

And then push the entire piece inside the 4x4 post.

From there, we threaded the cable up through the stair railing,

Made the corners at 45 degrees (notice the hardware in the posts at the cable?  This is to keep the cable from wearing the post down and protects the cable from snapping) 

And then threaded the cable through the last post and added the end fittings.

Those fittings are also pushed inside the post,

And then you just trim the ends off with wire cutters,

That's why we ended up leaving a small gap at the end - to finish the wire runs.  Also, this gives up a chance to attach the railing to the wall through the end 2x4.

One last thing we did was trim the ends off the posts on the downstairs side to remove any hard corners at a 45 degree angle.

I love how it looks!

Finally, we capped the top with a 1x board to cover the screw holes in the top and give the top a finished look.

I love how the stainless steel is easier to see through, adds a modern edge, but doesn't take away from the substantialness of this railing.  I'd feel safe having my kiddos lean up against this!

What a fun project!  We are thinking we'll do the same railing for the exterior decks too!

Have you done cable railing?  What do you think?  We'd love to hear your side too!

XO Ana + Family

Disclosure - this post is not sponsored by UltraTec - It's just the brand that is sold at our local home improvement store and we are happy with the product.

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