adventures in heatherland

Float On, Floating Shelf.

I love our kitchen.  But it wasn’t always such a love-connection.  Here’s the poor lady when we first bought her:

our kitchen, before renovation.

our kitchen, before renovation.

It’s an average size kitchen, but that existing layout made it seem much smaller.  We were seeking brightness, so when we were planning our renovation we opted to omit the use of upper cabinets, and used open shelving instead.  Even halfway through the remodel, the kitchen was looking 1000 brighter and better.  We just needed to find wall shelves.


kitchen, before shelves

kitchen progress, before shelves went in

The company we used for our kitchen cabinets was Cliq, but they did not offer an open shelving choice.  So Mr. Heatherland found Custom Floating Shelves, a FL based business that promised to make custom wooden shelves that were sturdy enough to hold some serious weight, and they could color match any finish.


I ordered 6 of them, to hold all our plates, bowls, glasses and stemware.  When the shelves arrived, the packaging was awesome (so awesome it took me about 45 minute to unpack them) and the quality of the shelves was beyond my best expectation.  These guys know their stuff!  I couldn’t have been happier with the style, the wood, and how perfectly the color matches my cabinets.


On their website, the installation page states: “Floating shelf installation is simple in concept but requires tools and skill beyond most DIY’ers. It is a job for a seasoned and skilled finish carpenter.  These directions are intended as a reference for a building professional.”


Which I interpreted as: “Heather, you can totally do this.”


How To Hang Floating Shelves


  1. Mark the studs (at least two of them).
  2. Mock-up the iron bracket on the wall, use a level to ensure placement.  Then, with a speed-square mark on the bracket where holes for the studs should be drilled.
  3. Using a drill press, drill the holes.  When drilling metal, it’s easiest to start with a small pilot hole then incrementally increase the size of your bit until you reach the desired hole size.
  4. Secure the bracket on the wall, with lag screws into the studs. 
  5. Gently slip the shelf on the bracket. 


Then enjoy the view of the finished project.  Our kitchen turned out great and the open shelves make all the difference in brightening up the space.

Our finished kitchen.

Our finished kitchen.



Baby It’s Cold Outside.

I think Mr. Heatherland and I are the only two yahoos that thought it was a good idea to have a “Wintertime Project” with this basement renovation of ours.  Now that we’ve just had an epic blizzard, the idea of lugging tools through the snow is not sounding so fabulous right about now.


Anywhoo, Mr. Heatherland is passionate about many things, but I’m noticing that he seems to be exceptionally passionate these days about keeping our home heating costs down.  And a big part of that effort can be credited to insulating our basement.


With heating costs on the rise, adding additional insulation to our basement has helped keep us from freezing… and after yesterday, it was totally worth it.  So in case you have questions about buttoning up your basement (or other leaky areas), here’s what we did:


#1 Find and Seal the Cracks

If there are any cracks in the concrete, now is the time to seal them. A good tool for the job is Sika Crack Fix where the walls meet the floor.  We also used that for a few very large cracks in the wall, then those cracks in the wall got a layer of Hydraulic Cement over them.

A Large Crack in the Wall Before Sealing It.

A Large Crack in the Wall Before Sealing It.


#2 Drylok

Once the foundation walls are free of cracks, scrub the whole thing down making sure it is free of dust, dirt, grime, mildew, mold, cat hair (yes, our walls were covered in cat hair… no, we don’t have cats).  When you have a clean, dry surface paint all the concrete will a couple healthy coats of Drylok to seal the walls and make them waterproof.

After The Drylok Application

After The Drylok Application


#3 Insulate

When the Drylok has cured, now you can start insulating the walls with rigid foam board.  We used Foamular because it will provide a good amount of insulation and act as a moisture barrier.  They are very easy to cut to size, and glue to the wall with Foam Board Adhesive.  The tricky part is screwing them to the wall while the glue dries.  We used a hammer drill, tapcons, and washers.  Two screws in each board.

The Foam Board It Up

The Foam Board It Up


#4 Spray foam

This was my favorite part.  I love any excuse to get all gussied up in a Tyvek suit.  We used a few different types of spray foam insulation, but the best one was Foam it Green.

Me and my favorite suit.

Me and my favorite suit.

Foam It Green is a two part spray foam, Part A is Blue, Part B is Yellow- when you pull the trigger they mix and you get Green foam.

Two hoses of spray foam entering the mixing trigger.

Two hoses of spray foam entering the mixing trigger.

We sprayed it in every conceivable crack, and surface as a last step to our insulation process.  We have a rim joist that was leaking cold air, and the Foam It Green was a perfect solution for that.  It goes on fast and easy, it dries quickly, and a little goes a long way (translation:we have a lot left over)!  

And that’s it, its 18 degrees outside right now and our unheated basement has remained at 65 degrees throughout all of this.
Check out my moves:



Misadventures Of Winter.

How I used SmartThings technology to defeat my wife’s heat blanket… 


If you are a Heatherland follower, then you already know Heather is a New England transplant. This means she has a certain charm and sophistication for the area, but it also means winter is a rough time of year for her. For example, most New Englanders would view a sunny forecast with a high of 20 degrees as a nice winter day.  But Heather, on the other hand, views this as quite grim and as a result she often takes drastic measures to keep warm.


The drastic measure in this case all started last year when we got our new NEST thermostat. She volunteered to set it up and did a fabulous job, but she then proceeded to lock me out of it! I am not kidding.  She controlled the NEST from her iPhone and straight up programmed the device to turn Heatherland into a tropical paradise.


To make matters worse, she then refused to share the username and password for a period of several months, which actually caused our energy bills to increase. This was all because she said it was “inhumane” to be forced to wear socks in her own home.


I ultimately regained control of the NEST, but then this past October (after some 65 degree nights) a shivering Heather set her sights on getting a heat blanket for our bed. This probably seems logical to a lot of you, but it’s causing me great concern. One thing you may not know about Heather is she is a “hot sleeper”. Her body temperature rises a lot while sleeping, so much that I actually once woke up from a nightmare where I was engulfed in flames and I couldn’t escape.

Anyway, for Christmas my mother was kind enough to gift us a heat blanket. Fortunately the blanket had two zones, which meant we could individually control our respective sides of the bed.  We’ve been using the heat blanket for a month now and its been essential on some of the colder nights. Unfortunately on the warmer winter nights this has been happening:

  • Heather complains about how cold the house is before bed, and cranks the dial of the heat blanket up.
  • She then talks about how much she loves the heat blanket before she falls asleep.
  • An hour or two pass and she gets really hot under the heat blanket, so she discards her side of the heat blanket on top of me.
  • Then I wake up from my recurring nightmare about fire, get out of bed and switch the heat blanket off.


This has officially become a problem, and since I’m a bit of a nerd I wanted to use technology to solve it.


Hello, SmartThings




To do this I used my fancy new SmartThings Hub and the corresponding SmartPower Outlet.


I simply added the new switch to our SmartThings network and set it up to turn off at midnight. This was super easy with SmartThings. The entire process only took a few minutes to get it programmed on my phone.





I tested the switch and could see that the blanket consumed 78watts, not much more than an original Heatherland light fixture.  So far everything is working perfectly and we are both sleeping soundly with the heat set at 65.

photo credit: warner brothers

photo credit: warner brothers


A rare win-win, SmartThings saved the day.

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