This Just In...

This Old Fixer Upper, part 5: Restoring the staircase

We completely gutted the stairs down to the stringers and rebuilt them. They challenged me at every step along the way - no pun intended. I had to use every tool I had, every skill I knew, and every ounce of my patience. Do not try this at home!

How to: Jeep Wranger TJ mirrors on a Jeep Cherokee XJ

I've always hated the mirrors on my 1997 Jeep Cherokee XJ. They're too small and they look dumb! A rugged, manly vehicle deserves rugged, manly mirror. Right? I got these mirrors from Amazon for less than $40 for the pair and I'm really happy with them. They're for a TJ Jeep Wranger but they also look like YJ mirrors. 

installing wranger tj mirrors on a jeep cherokee xj

Live Edge Walnut & Oak Console Table DIY

I had a round-back live-edge black walnut slab and I wasn't sure what to do with it. It wasn't wide enough to a table on it's own. So I added some oak to widen it and turned it into a long, narrow console table! Here's how I did it.

Booger welds galore! I made a homemade skid plate for Project Cherokeeper

Project Cherokeeper -- my 1997 Jeep Cherokee XJ -- needed a little protection for its soft belly. The aluminum transfer case is totally exposed and if it hangs up on a large rock, it can crack. And if that happens, neither axle is moving and I'm going nowhere. Here's how I built my own.

Backpacking, Dispersed Camping along the Redwood Creek, and Horseback Riding in Redwood National Park

In the middle of our epic California coast adventure, my fiance and I decided to try a little backpacking along the Redwood Creek in the Redwood National Park in Northern California - it's the only place in the park where dispersed camping is allowed. We followed that up with an experience I'll truly never forget: horseback riding on the horse trails that go through the heart of the Redwood National Park. Amazing!

redwood creek trail, redwood national park, dispersed camping

10 things no one tells you about learning to ride motorcycles

These are the things that no one ever told me when I was learning to ride my motorcycle, I just had to learn them for myself. But you don't have to!

This Old Fixer-Upper, part 4: the Bedrooms

The upstairs bedrooms where the first rooms to get the renovation they so badly needed and deserved. 

4x4 Trail Report: Hayden Pass Road, through the 2016 Hayden Pass Fire

This was the last 4x4 trail we drove down during out 3 day excursion through Colorado. And by far the most challenging. But here's the thing with Hayden Pass: last year there was a forest Fire - The Hayden Pass Fire - and the 4x4 road does go through the burn scar. I was really worried that the road would be covered in a thick layer of ash, making it impassible. My only other experience with traversing through a burned out area was during a backpacking hike through Yosemite. The trail was completely destroyed and we lost it because the earth was so scorched and covered in ash.

Hayden Pass 4x4 trail road in Colorado of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range

4x4 Trail Report: Medano Pass

Medano Pass is a "primative" 4x4 road through the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and one of only two trails that allow you to travel over the Sangre De Cristo mountain range (the other being Hayden Pass which we drove over the next day).

Medano Pass Great Sand Dunes Colorado primative road in a Jeep XJ Cherokee 4x4

4x4 Trail Report: Mount Rosa and Mount Baldy

Colorado or bust! That was my mantra while driving from Eastern Kansas to South Central Colorado - a 10 hour drive - to go off-roading in my new Jeep XJ Cherokee for the first time. Not only had I never been off-roading in the Jeep, I had never been off-roading in Colorado either! So it was about to be a whole new experience for me. However, I promised myself that I wasn't going to attempt any "rock crawling" on this trip due to the lack of skid plates and the true soft belly of the aluminum transfer case. And while I didn't have to break that promise on the Mount Rosa and Mount Baldy trails, I would eventually break it by the end of the trip!

Project CheroKeeper: fender trimming & hood vents

The technique for cutting the sheet metal is an old, tried-and-tested process in the Jeep XJ community. Just search youtube or any jeep forum and you'll see the same method each and every time. Trim the sheet metal up front, and "cut and fold" the sheet metal for the rear fenders. What I did was I tried to trim off just a enough so that there would still be a little tiny metal fender flare left. This meant cutting right along a bend in the sheet metal - which also meant the shape/profile of the fender arches would remain mostly stock - or, in the case of the rear, cutting up to that bend and folding the sheet metal over at that point. This also allowed me to keep the windshield wiper fluid reservoir hidden between the outer fender and the inner fender. After trimming the sheet metal, I cleaned them up with some truck bed liner paint, and the end result looks great and functions beautifully. 

Project CheroKeeper: cooling system overhaul

This story, chronically my attempt to overhaul the jeep XJ's cooling system and overcome a mysterious overheating problem, was orignally posted to the website cherokeeforum.com. I ended up replacing the entire cooling system except for the heater core, and in the end it's vastely improved yet the motor still runs a little hot in the summer. 

IKEA Hack: Using IVAR for an Open Wardrobe System

We're so happy with our IVAR open wardrobe system from IKEA, but we had to "hack" it first!

ivar ikea hack wardrobe stain paint cloths hanger

How to build a woodworking workbench and tablesaw outfeed table

For all the woodworking projects going on during the home renovation, I needed super solid wood bench. I also needed a solid support and outfeed table for my small tablesaw. Here's how I built it.

Update: The $50 paint job, 18 months later

A year and a half after I painted my truck with Rustoleum and a paint roller, how has it held up?? (Hint: I won trophy in a car show!)

How to install tongue and groove panels on a ceiling

For my This Old Fixer-Upper project, we decided to cover the plaster ceiling with pine tunque-and-groove panels rather than try to scrape off the wallpaper and paint the ceiling. The original plan was to use 4' x 8' sheets of panels that looked like tongue-and-groove boards painted white, but we found the actual stuff at Menards for only a little bit more money per square foot. A pretty good deal I thought. All of the materials cost me a little over $400, including the brad nails, paneling adhesive, polyurathane, etc. 

how to install pine tungue-and-groove boards paneling on ceiling

Project CheroKeeper: suspension and tire upgrades

Before my trip to colorado, I decided to get the Jeep in tip-top shape and install a lift kit I bought a while ago and put new off-road tires on it. I also had some goodies to beef up the steering box, and I performed a little body modification to clear the bigger tires. Yay!

working on a jeep charokee xj lift kit install

This Old Fixer Upper, part 3: Garden and Landscaping

With nothing but grass growing in the 1/3-acre yard - and massive amounts of perrenial flowers surrounding the house that we had no idea about until spring - we had a big canvas to do whatever we wanted with. I wanted lots of trees! And a big garden! No, bigger than a garden. A food forest! At least that was the plan.

Make your own conditional fields in Drupal 7 by "hacking" the hook_form_alter() function with JavaScript injection

When I needed a conditional field for a Drupal 7 content type, of course I just googled "drupal conditional fields" to see if a module exists. One did exist, but its D7 release came with a big, red flag warning any would-be downloaders that it's not supported any longer and is vulnerable to security issues. Instead of risking it on the entrerprise-level website, I decided to code up a solution myself. And I would use JavaScript inserted by the PHP code. Easy!

Product Review: Sony NEX-6 + Nikon Nikkor AI-S lenses

Unlike the other camera I tried to adapt to my small collection of old manual focus lenses - a Nikon J1 - this Sony NEX-6 camera body is perfect! With manual focus lenses, it's all about getting the focus just right. If it's not perfect, then it's blurry. And a blurry, out of focus image is trash. Same thing for exposure. Here's why the Sony NEX-6 is the perfect camera body for use with old, manual focus lenses.

sony nex-6 camera body with manual focus Nikon Nikkor AI-S F-series lense

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