Ava's room

When we bought the house, there is one room we referred to as the 'stupid room' as it was the smallest room, biggest closet, and 2 doors. We set it up as an office and library. Worked great.

With Ava, we decided that the time had come, the office is going away, it's the nursery. We'd discussed the very thing when we bought the house. 

So, this had the last of the original carpet. So I replaced the carpet. Katie ordered a wall decal set that I made work with the crib. 

Today I hung adjustable shelves so the largest closet in the house can be put to better use. It's a mix of baby stuff and kitchen stuff. 

In album 2014-12-28

The new carpet is much better. I put down extra padding so it should be extra soft for babies and standing changing diapers.

I really like the decals. It makes the room look nice.

And the closet. With this installed, I am DONE with this room. Only a 6 month project?

Some nasty dirty carpet. I painted the walls before replacing the carpet, knowing I didn’t care about the old stuff.

Did a pretty good job of getting the carpet the right size. Not much left over.

I’d bought carpet laying tools when I bought the house and layed the other carpets. I am 1 extension set short. So I improvised.

DIY Bell Siphon for Ebb and Flow Aquaponics with 75 gallon Aquarium

I had a rough week this last week, so I decided I needed to build something. So I built a bell siphon for an ebb and flow grow bed (also called Flood and Drain grow bed_ for the 75 gallon fish tank in the living room. This will allow me to grow plants using the fish water. This is pretty cool, as it means that the plants will remove the nitrate buildup which is the primary reason people need to do partial water changed in their aquariums.

My 75 gallon aquarium in the living room before I added the  aquaponics component to it.
My 75 gallon aquarium in the living room before I added the aquaponics component to it.

The whole thing will be completely automated and cost me less then $50 including buying tools and leaves me with lots of spare parts. 3 pieces of 4 foot PVC pipe with only about 6 inches cut off of each, so I have enough of this to make half a dozen more if I wanted.

A bell siphon is a passive autosiphon device that allows a continuous flow of water into a container to periodically be drained completely out of the container. This is good because it allows me to have my Eheim aquarium canister filter output into the grow bed, and the bell siphon will flush the bed regularly, aerating the plant roots.

To start, I assembled a drain out of plumbing PVC parts. This consists of a stand pipe to go inside the aquarium, 2 fittings to work as a bulkhead nipple, and an offset to route the water around the aquarium lid into the drain tube.

Showing where the tub will go.
Showing where the tub will go.

My wife let me buy the parts and take over the 75 gallon aquarium in the living room with my plants. She had it decorated really nicely, but my plant stand was evicted from its spot to make space in the baby room. They needed a place to go, and I used this as an excuse to work on the aquaponics setup.

Katie and Bella Supervising
Katie and Bella Supervising

I started fiddling with the pieces I had bought and realized that I didn’t get all the right pieces I wanted, but I had gotten enough to make it work.

The bottom half of the bulkhead and the 90 degree angle.
The bottom half of the bulkhead and the 90 degree angle. The angle will provide the offset to go around the tank lid.
A bit of glue oozing into the PVC joint.
A bit of glue oozing into the joint. This needs to be cleaned out to provide less water flow resistance.

I used an antique brace with an adjustable size bit to cut the hole in the plastic. Basically, the edge of the bit would score the plastic. It worked great, except for the plastic cracking.  I siliconed it up, but, to my great annoyance, the silicone was old and didn’t set. I had to clean it off and go get a new tube and try again.

Cracked grow bed bottom
Oohps! I cracked the bottom of the grow bed. No worries, a bit of silicone will fix it right up!

After two days of futzing with this thing, I finally got a dried silicone seal around the stand pipe and over the crack. The grow bed will sit on top of my 75 gallon aquarium so I designed the drain to offset around the aquarium lid. No drilling holes in the lid… yet…

The stand pipe drain for the ebb and flow hydroponics grow bed.
The stand pipe drain assembled and ready to seal in place with silicone

I then made the bell siphon which sets over the stand pipe. I again used my brace and a smaller bit to drill holes in the 3″ PVC pipe. This made it much easier to cut with the PVC cutters I had bought. The 3 inch was just to thick for me to cut otherwise.

PVC holes drilled with a brace and bit
Using a brace and bit to drill holes in the PVC where I will cut it to make the bell siphon.
The bottom of the bell siphon
The notches in the bottom of the bell siphon allows water to flow in easily.

A slight design flaw (um, the drain) left me with a grow bed that wouldn’t sit on the aquarium stand lid. A bit of scrounging around, and I found a plastic crate that I am using. The grow bed sits on the crate, which leaves enough room underneath for the drain to fit. It looks a little precarious, and I would like it to be the 4-5 inches lower, but it works for now.

The aquaponics ebb and flow growbed sitting on the aquarium light hood
The grow bed sitting on the aquarium light hood.
Aquarium filter filling the aquaponics ebb and flow growbed on top of the light hood
The canister filter has nearly filled the growbed. The water height is limited by the height of the stand pipe.
The bell siphon sitting on top of the stand pipe
The bell siphon sitting on top of the stand pipe. This is where the magic happens.
The bell siphon sitting on top of the stand pipe
Looking at the whole bell siphon drain.
Threaded drain gives me options in the future.
The threaded bottom allows me to potentially change how I drain this grow bed if I wanted to.

 

The growbed is continuously filled, and intermittently dumps into the aquarium below.

The drain in the aquarium
The water from the grow bed returns back to the aquarium here. The grow bed is still filling in this photo.
Bell Siphon draining into the aquarium
Bell Siphon draining into the aquarium. See all the water flowing out?

I placed my plants around the grow bed and the few items that where required to stay on the tank stand – family photos. I think it looks pretty good in the house! I hope to grow lettuces and herbs such as basil in it. Things that we eat regularly and are best fresh.

Indoor aquaponics setup on top of a fish tank
I only have desk lights with CFL bulbs right now. I think it looks pretty good!
Living Room Aquaponics in an aquarium
The tank looks good with the aquaponics on top!
I am pretty sure I can’t feed everybody in the photos… yet…

 

UPDATE:

You can visit http://mike.creuzer.com/2011/12/i-doubled-the-sump-space-in-my-aquaponics-rig-today.html to see this same siphon and growbed in use on an expanded system..

Isabella Grace Creuzer

Isabella Grace Creuzer was born on April 20th 2010 at 2:22 a.m.  She weighed in at 8lbs 3oz.  and was 21 and one half inches long/tall. Her mother was in labor for a little over 6 hours with no pain medications at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, IL.

It’s amazing how much the above paragraph means to me. Katie always gave me a hard time while she was pregnant that I wasn’t interested in the baby. I kept telling her that she wasn’t all that real for me as she was just creepy movements of the belly. Watching and helping her be born has no way I can convey what it meant to me.

I just have to say that I am extremely proud of my wife

Of course, with everything I do, there’s a story about it.

So… I’ve been trying to stay close to home the last couple of weeks being we have only the one vehicle. I didn’t want to leave Katie without a way to the hospital if the baby decided she was wanting to come NOW. The Monday before the baby was born I was down in Batavia giving a couple of presentations on web development stuff. The Sunday before she was born, I was down in Aurora co-demonstrating making Traps and Snares.

Monday the 19th I saw some aquarium fish offered up on freecycle. I seem to run an aquarium rescue or something.  I offered to pick them up Monday night at 6. Other people had expressed interest in them, but I was the only one who gave a time. I had to run to storage to pick up my cooler that I use to transport fish in. Then off to Hanover Park. I picked up the fish – I think the guy only got 2 of the 5 types of fish he IDed correct HA!

I get home with my new fish and dinner is ready.  Balsamic Vinegar Chicken. Katie had starting selecting menu’s based on folk lore saying that it would help kick off labor – like the Mac & Cheese with A1 for lunch – she was ready to have the baby. The chicken was wonderful, like usual.  We finish dinner, and I start to get the fish ready to be moved into my aquarium. Katie put away dinner. She put something in the fridge and thought she had an accident. You guessed it, her water broke!

So, I have a wife leaking on the floor, fish in a cooler that need to be put in their new home, and mothers to call saying the water broke.  Katie’s phone has a near dead battery.  She’s on hers, I am on mine. Doctor is called, Mothers are notified. We get ahold of our Dula while Katie is in the shower as she refused to go to the hospital without the shower. The Dula says she will meet us at the hospital because Katie’s contractions have started in earnest by this point in time – about 15 minutes after her water broke.

After a brief gathering of stuff that couldn’t be pre-packed as it was needed for day-to-day living and couldn’t live for 2 months packed away, we where off. I calmly drove the 1 mile or so to the brand new Sherman Hospital. We walk in wheeling our bag and get all signed in. Our Dula arrives, so we sit and chit-chat and make sure everything is all right.

image

The nurse checks Katie – 3-4cm dilation 100% effacement. Basically, we are 1/3 the way done in an hour.

Poor Katie didn’t get but 2 minutes of rest between contractions once she started. It’s hard to get tweets in between contractions when they are that close together. I didn’t want to not hold Katie’s hand for every one of them. Midnight finds us at about 9-10cm dilation, and the doctor is called in. We start pushing in earnest at this point. The doctor arrives, and we start to collect nurses. By the time the baby is born, we went from 1 nurse to 4 plus a doctor. I think a fifth one snuck in after the baby was born and started to clean up the baby.

The baby is a little Houdini. The nurses never could keep a baby monitor pointed at her for very long. She kept moving around, and slipping out of range. It’s “Ok Katie, Push”, “Ok, Katie, Relax”, find baby with monitor, repeat.

At one point Katie says that she just wants to go home. The Dula got a kick out of that, saying every mom has said that at some point in the delivery.

After a great amount of pushing and straining, and one round of “I want drugs, give me drugs” the baby is born. The drugs where skipped as the nurse pointed out that they could repress the baby’s breathing.

No drugs. How hardcore is that? Again, I am incredibly proud of Katie. I also don’t think I ever want to get into a fist fight with her. I’d loose.

As was pointed out earlier, she was born at 2:22. It wasn’t until about 5am or so that the doctor’s gone, the baby’s cleaned up, the nurses left us alone, and our Dula leaves. We rest. I have this little chair thingy that folds out into a bed, not very comfortable. I want one for at home.

I get up again around 8am. Nurses coming and going. Get Katie fed breakfast. The baby’s doing good. So I wander home about 10am to take a shower, take care of the critters at home, grab the laptop from the office, etc.

I grab some lunch (taco bell) and get back to Katie and my daughter.

All kinds of people come in to see Katie and the baby. Pediatricians, nurses, doctors, nursing consultants, housekeeping, the kitchen. Nobody to see me! That’s not true, two people from work visited, so I can pretend they where there to see me.

Day two at the hospital was about the same thing. I worked on my blog (what you are reading now, notice it’s a lot different?) as I hadn’t had time to work on it for the last two months and Katie was hogging our daughter while she was awake.

I just puttered around, fetching stuff that was out of reach, smuggling in frostys, Mt. Dew and Fast Break candy bars. If it wasn’t for having my baby girl there, hospitals are kinda boring.

We left Wednesday night so we had a night to ourselves, the three of us, before family started showing up.

Not much sleep that night, Bella, again the little miss Houdini, kept escaping her cradle her grandpa and I built her and ended up in bed most of the night.

So, in short, I am lucky I was home when this all started, the baby, mom and fish all survived the ordeal. Brother is now a Big Brother to a human kitten – poor fella. I am now a proud husband and happy father. My life sure has changed the last couple of years!

.

Cooking Club & Seseme Chicken

Last weekend Katie and I hosted our first Cooking Club get together. Only one other couple was able to make it – short notice and we didn’t ask what was a good time for the other people.

The theme for the night was Chinese. Katie made her family famous Chicken Fried Rice and Beef Egg Rolls. I decided to make some Sesame Chicken that Katie had found a recipe for, and some Sweet Potato Poppy Seed balls for desert. Our guests brought a broccoli dish with an Asian flair that was really good. It fit very well with the rest of what we had.

I have always liked Katie’s Fried Rice. The Egg Rolls where new to me. She kept talking about them, but never made them for me.

No event can go without it’s drama, and the egg rolls where the drama for the evening. Egg roll wrappers are near impossible to find. Katie had thought she had some, but they turned out to be spring roll wrappers. A last minute trip to 2 stores came back with no egg roll wrappers. So, spring roll wrappers it was. To boot, we forgot to dig the bean sprouts out of the fridge. Best tasting disaster I ever had I think. We ate them all!

When the guests arrived, I made some egg drop soup to cover for Katie while she was tearing the stores up. It tasted fine, looked horrible. I mean, it looked like cream of egg drop soup or something. Closed your eyes, it was all good.

I fried up the Sweet Potato Poppy seed balls while we where playing Dominoes. Fun game! Decent snack.

I think the Sesame chicken was the surprise of the night. It was very very good. About 30 minutes, start to finish, including a 20 minute marinade. Well, maybe an hour when your as disorganized as I am. Luckily I started early.

The chicken was so good, I made it again today. I think it’s going to be a standard of mine. The recipe is found at http://www.recipezaar.com/Flawless-Sesame-Chicken-Restaurant-Style-129598

I have left over sauce this time. That’s going into a jar, going to see how long it lasts in the fridge.

I am looking at it, and I think I will try a sugar-free version at some point. See how that turns out. I am guessing I will need to have some sugar in it for it to be the right texture, but maybe end up with a low-sugar version?.

Computer Coffee Table

Katie ordered Netflix the end of last week. She was missing TV and we agreed not to get cable until this fall when it got cold out. Netflix is to tide the poor thing over.

Well, Netflix has this Instant-watch feature where they stream the video to your computer or whatnot.

I just HAD to try this. So, I ran a coax with RCA adapters from the computer video out to the TV and used the FM transmitter for the iPod in the truck to get audio to the radio.

Katie LOVED IT.

Had to have it.
So, computer got moved into the living room.

Nothing is ever as simple as that…

The computer didn’t like being moved. Broke a fan blade out of the CPU cooling fan somehow – if memory serves, I had stuck a finger into it a couple of years ago, and it finally let go.

Ok, 9:15PM run to Best Buy – closed. Damn…

Pinch CPU fan off of another computer so we can watch a movie. It’s a size smaller, no worries, just put it on with one screw and try not to use the computer to hard.

Next day, go to Best Buy after lunch. Try to get the fan I need. No luck. No 50mm cooling fans. They got an 80mm case fan that lights up pretty blue. Blue blinky lights. MUST HAVE Blue blinky lights.

We go to Target, and wander around for at least an hour, looking for a coffee table so we have something to set the computer monitor under. Tried this, tried that. Found what we liked. Decided it was the same money as what we where looking at earlier but decided it was to expensive, went back, looked again, had to have the first stuff. Picked it up, tooled around the store, noticed the colors didn’t match, went back to see if they had matching colors. No. Damn. Looked some more, found something we REALLY liked, noticed it was on sale for less then what we had in cart currently. Swapped items. Left store fast least we spend ANOTHER hour loading and unloading the cart.

You don’t understand. We had the rug we liked layed out on the floor, with the end tables set down with another box to represent the monitor. The people at Target kept asking us if we needed help. Probably looked like we where thinking about moving in.

Anyway, back to the computer, as this is a story about the coffee table. (confused yet?).

Get home, go to put the fan in the computer. Wrong plug type. Double Damn. Hrmm, case fan uses same little plug as the CPU fan did. Plug the case fan into the slot for the CPU fan so the computer won’t self-power-down. Plug new CPU fan (really a case fan) into hard drive power. Computer won’t POST.

grrr.

Take everything back apart, put it back together. Computer POSTs again. YAY. I had the fan pointed the right direction.

Take heatsink back off, drill new holes for the larger fan. Tighten screws down. Put together. Take apart. Loosen screws so fan can TURN. put back together.

Put computer back together. Boots. Doesn’t like the ‘missing’ case fan. Silly computer doesn’t know it’s plugged into the CPU fan header.

Anyway.. on with the real story. The Coffee Table. The two end tables get placed back to back with enough space between them for one of my matching 19″ CRTs. It sits on it’s back-side pointed up, tipped slightly forward it can be seen while sitting on the couch. I had to degauss it to get rid of the color shift, but it doesn’t seem to mind sitting ‘on it’s butt’ so to speak.

A bit of poking around in closets found enough unused Kayak wood stringers and some hinges, and I screwed the night stands together. Put the monitor in. Put a piece of plexi over the top.

You know what?
I like it.
I really like it a lot.

I still need to cut the plexi and get that mounted, but that’s pretty trivial. Just need to find the draw-knife again. I put it down and I think Brother hid it on me. Spending too much time on the fish tanks and not petting him.

I found the killer app for a Media Center PC. YouTube.

YouTube videos on the TV while your sitting on the couch rocks. I got the video camera here too, so Katie can talk to her family on Skype. I have yet to Skype in the living room myself, but I think it should be pretty cool.

So, know we can watch movies, chat with friends, and yes, even BLOG from the comfort of the couch.

Now I need to find new excuses why I am not blogging as often as I would like..