Posted in Around the House

Converting a Dresser into a Kitchen Island – Part 3

Well, I just realized I never posted part 3 of this series with the final pictures.  I guess 5 years isn’t too late to wrap things up.  We have remodeled our house since the original post was made so the island has been moved to the basement and is now a Craft Center for our kids to play, make puzzles, etc.

The drawers were put back in where they came from and two shelves were added to the bottom.  The middle shelf is simply sitting on top of some wood pieces I attached to the inside of the main compartment and the bottom one is just sitting on the bottom.

Overall, this project turned out great.  I’d highly recommend trying something like this for anyone with some old furniture that you want to use in a different way.

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Posted in Computer Stuff

How to Backup your computer for Free using BitTorrent Sync

Many things that used to be physical items are now being stored digitally.  From pictures and videos to your tax returns and will.  Paper and video tape items are becoming less and less common as the digital world continues to grow.  Many people have all their memories (baby pictures, kid videos, marriage videos, etc) stored as digital files on their computers.  Shockingly, a very large number of people do not back up their files in any way.  This means that one failed hard drive or lightning strike can completely wipe out all traces of those important files.

There are many ways of backing up your files.  One of the most popular methods is to use “The Cloud”.  You can sign up for a service that you set up and then forget it’s there.  Any time you modify or add a new file, it automatically gets uploaded for safe keeping.  There is generally a monthly or yearly fee that is based on the amount of data and the number of computers you are backing up.  Two popular services like this are Crashplan and BackBlaze.  You can read a review/comparison of those at Lickerhacker.com.

However, for frugal people who don’t mind a DIY solution, you should definitely check out Bittorent’s Sync program. Continue reading “How to Backup your computer for Free using BitTorrent Sync”

Posted in Uncategorized

Home Remodel – Stories and Pictures

In late 2013 we began an extensive remodel of the front half of our house.  This remodel included the Kitchen, Family Room, and Dining Room.  Now that the remodel is mostly complete (still have some trim/molding to do) I wanted to document everything and post some pictures for others to see our changes and hopefully get some ideas. Our house was built in 1981 and we have lived here since 2001.  During the first 12 years we made many changes but they were mostly cosmetic and non-structural.  In summer of 2013 we started thinking about a more extensive remodel to update and modernize our home.  Some of our main goals were:

  • Expand the kitchen and give it a better layout with more storage
  • Create a more Open Concept design
  • Create more storage in the dining area with built ins instead of random furniture pieces

Continue reading “Home Remodel – Stories and Pictures”

Posted in Around the House

Laundry Organization

Like many people I know, the laundry area in our house was somewhat disorganized.  We had multiple hampers to put the dirty clothes in but they weren’t next to the washer & dryer.  Things would overflow and were just not a very pretty site.

My wife did some looking around the internet and found a few ideas on what we could make to help get things more organized.  The idea that we found and liked the best look like this:

laundry-basket-dresser-2
Click image to view the page we got the idea from

Continue reading “Laundry Organization”

Posted in XBMC

Home Theater PC – XBMC – Part 7: Add-ons

One of the most powerful things with XBMC are the add-ons.  Everything from Youtube to various cable channels are available to watch from right within XBMC.  Many add-ons are built into XBMC and others have to be installed manually.

To find add-ons built into XBMC by default, you can either go to the section in question (e.g. videos, music, etc0 and choose the Add-ons option from thos menuse, or you can go to the System menu and choose Add-ons from there.  Specific instructions with screenshots available here.

I’ve only tried a few add-ons, but here is a list of the ones I find extremely useful. Continue reading “Home Theater PC – XBMC – Part 7: Add-ons”

Posted in XBMC

Home Theater PC – XBMC – Part 6: Watching Videos

Once the media scanning is done, you are able to start watching your videos through XBMC.

Choosing where to view your videos
If you are just watching the videos on a PC, then you can run XBMC and follow along below.  If you are connecting the XBMC PC to a TV, you will need to make sure you have a video card with the proper outputs to connect to the TV.  I chose to use an HDMI connection because it handles the video and audio all on one cable.  I purchase a video card from Newegg that was $10 after a Mail in Rebate.  Since this is just for playing back videos, you don’t need an expensive video card at all.

This is the card I got so you can compare to others you find: ZOTAC Synergy Edition ZT-60602-10L GeForce GT 610 1GB 64-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16

Watching some videos
If you are using the default skin/theme, and have setup a source for Movies and TV Shows in the previous step , you should now have items across the menu for both of them, as well as Videos, Music, Photos, etc.  If you don’t see an item for TV Shows or Movies, you may find them under the Videos section.  You can change this behavior in one of the settings areas within XBMC. Continue reading “Home Theater PC – XBMC – Part 6: Watching Videos”