CrossFit Jump Rope Storage Hack

How do you store your jump rope? I used to always just throw it in my bag, but then it would get all tangled and knotted in my clothes. Until about a year ago when my life changed for the better.

If you’re a reader of Lifehacker like I am, you know that the binder clip is a jack of all trades. Yes, this little contraption found commonly in offices around the world can act as a wire catch for your desk, money clip, cell phone car mount, and yes, beer organizer. Wait, don’t believe me? Check out 54 Uses for Binder Clips that Will Change Your Life. I would add a 55th use for: jump rope organizer.

P.S. Apologies for the gross handles. You can tell the rope is well-used from the tape I put on it years ago and has since gone from white to various shades of black and brown from my dirty, sweaty hands. 

How do you store your rope? 

Home Office Renovation: Standing Desk for Two and Besta File System

Sitting. Statistically, you are probably sitting while reading this (between the work place and TV/computers at home, humans are sitting more than ever) and chances are you have heard or read that sitting is bad for you. And not just because of correlations that people who sit more tend to be less healthy, but because the actual act of sitting is unhealthy. If this is news to you, check out Businessweek, New York Times, Lifehacker, and Cornell. So, is sitting the new smoking? I probably wouldn’t go that far, but it makes sense that it can’t be good to sit in a chair for 8+ hours a day. In our old apartment, I had made a standing desk from Ikea bookcases and desktops, but it was just a touch too tall and gaudy. I wanted something sleek and at a decent height for us. So here is what I did. 

First, we cleared all of the STUFF out of the office. We had basically used it as a storage room with no desk and I wish I had a picture of it. Well, here you can see all of the STUFF in our living room. Yes, welcome to a new episode of Hoarders.

Then, I painted the office. The blue is “peacock blue” and the beige is “mocha cafe” from Home Depot. I also went over the bone white ceiling and trim with ultra white. New construction is nice, but bone white NOT white. Sidenote: does anyone go to college to major in “paint naming?”

For books and some random supplies, we did a typical Ikea Billy bookcase with clear glass doors (total of $160)

In terms of the desk, I had already done my research and had a few criteria for the standing desk:

  • obviously it needed to be standing height. But this meant most likely adjustable legs unless I could find the exact height using standard materials like bookcases.
  • it needed to fit two people
  • I didn’t have a specific budget, but I wasn’t going to pay $829 for an electric adjustable desk for one person
  • simple was better

After searching the interwebs, I came across this Ikeahackers post and decided it was the best option for cost and practicality. As the author says, you’ll need:

The Byske legs are pricey at $30 each, but they are adjustable from 27.5″ to 42.13″, so they were worth it for me. If you have the time to search, you can usually find them used and in good condition on Craigslist. The shelf is slightly shorter than the table top, so it’s perfect as a second tier for a computer monitor or extra space. 

The first step I did was to determine the ideal height of the desk. Luckily, Ditty is only a couple inches shorter than me. Knowing that our elbows should be angled slightly below 90 degrees, I used that height and subtracted the height of the desk to get the ideal leg height. The Byske legs spin a great deal to adjust, so get ready for an arm workout when you have to adjust five of them!  I found it easier to first attach the legs and then adjust them while the desk was upside down. 

After the legs were attached, we flipped the desk right-side up. (At first the legs were wobbly where the adjustable sections met, but once you put some weight on the desk and up against a wall, it’s not an issue.) Next, we needed to attach the brackets to the Lack shelf. Realizing that both the shelf and the desk were basically hollow filled with cardboard, a buddy suggested that we drill a pilot hole and insert screw anchors. It worked like magic. 

Once the brackets were attached to the underside of the shelf, we attached it to the desk using the same method of screw anchors to ensure stability. We used the office wall to keep the shelf and the desk in line with each other.

The shelf and table top did not come with pre-drilled holes for wires like some desks do, so I drilled my own. Ikea sells a drill bit and desk grommets in packages of three, so pick one or two of these up. I can’t find the link directly from Ikea, but these are the ones on Ebay. I really like how the cords and wires are hidden almost completely from view. See below for the quick steps. (pictures are from the old desk at the apartment)

We don’t need or have many office supplies like pens and Post It Notes, but for the times we do need them, I installed a pencil drawer. You can grab these off Amazon and attach them to any underside of a desk.

The last modification won’t be needed by everyone, but since my DSLR uses CF cards, I needed a CF card reader. Again, to keep things clean, I just used some Frog Tape to attach it to the underside of the shelf for easy access. The wire runs to the wire hole in the shelf and up to the Apple Thunderbolt Display and if I needed to take it off, the Frog Tape ensures an easy removal. 

Besides the desk, I also needed a way to store STUFF like my photography gear and also a file cabinet for our paperwork. I was amazed at how expensive file cabinets can be, especially when you need more than two drawers. I was going to go with two separate systems, but then realized that Ikea had an all-in-one solution: The Besta system. You buy a bookcase frame (multiple sizes) and then can customize it with different doors, shelves, and my savior: file drawers. At first pricey at $40 per pair of brackets, but then you realize that you can save hundreds of dollars by potentially having an 8 drawer file cabinet that doesn’t scream “office.” I decided on this configuration for what we need right now, but if the papers pile up, I can always add a 4th level of files. Pretty sweet!

 

So that’s our office renovation. All in all, it took a few weekends of painting, furniture buying, and assembling, but if done straight through, it only needs 2 days (one for painting, one for furniture)

If you have any questions, hit me up in comments!

DIY – Installing a Kitchen Backsplash

Constantly varied right? Ok, so here’s a blog post that has nothing to do with Paleo, CrossFit, photography, or the outdoors. Installing backsplash in the kitchen. It’s something we have wanted to do for over a year since we moved in, but just never got around to it until this past fall. (I never said this was a recent project) 

I’m not an expert in construction/building/home projects, but I do consider myself a quick learner and willing to put in work if it means saving a buck or few hundred in installation. So after a few Youtube videos and other blogs, we went for it. The tile we got was a mosaic style, made from glass and stone tiles. You can buy them attached to a mesh backing, so although it looks like a lot of work to lay hundreds of tiny tiles, it’s pretty easy when they’re attached to 12″x12″ mesh. I think it was about $9/square (midrange) and the area to cover was about 30 sq.ft. so tile plus grout/grout tool/nipper/SimpleMat was somewhere between $300-$400. If we wanted it installed we would have paid another $250.  Luckily this project was in DIY range. Here are the steps Ditty and I took:

1. Turn off the electricity. Don’t need any surprises. Take faceplates off outlets and pull oven away from wall about a foot or two. 

2. Wash the wall – make sure there aren’t any globs of food or things that could get in the way of good adhesion. Good adhesion is the name of the game.

3. Stick SimpleMat on the drywall – this made the project a lot easier and quicker. SimpleMat is basically Tyvek paper with glue on both sides. You peel plastic away from one side and stick it to the wall. Then whenever you’re ready you peel the plastic off the other side and stick the tiles on. You should do the whole area (or at least big areas) with SimpleMat first. Unlike cement, you can afford to do the whole area first before laying tile. Be sure to plan out the SimpleMat pieces (18″L x 12″H) and cut out spaces for electrical outlets. 

3. Lay the tile – Lay down tiny spacers where the countertop meets the wall. Then peel the plastic away from the SimpleMat, exposing the other glue side. Place your whole 12″x12″ tiles onto the wall. The spacers will allow for you to caulk later on. Generally you want to caulk wherever the wall meets a a new surface like countertop. When going across the space behind the oven, you won’t have any countertop for reference, so use a level as an improv countertop. Having two people really helps here. Or a third arm.

4. Continue Up – After laying down the entire bottom row of tile, start with the next row up. For us, it meant cutting the 12″x12″ tiles in half because countertop to cabinet was exactly 18″. Your kitchen will probably be different, but be sure to work from bottom to top.

5. Odds and Ends – For any odd places like electrical outlets or the edges, we used nippers to cut the individual tiles. Luckily we had materials that we only needed these scissor-like nippers. We did not need a wet saw, which would have cost more and taken up more time. You’ll have to consult with an expert as to what you’ll need, but we had a mix of glass (you can definitely use only nippers on glass) and stone (not exactly sure what kind, but it was soft enough to use the nippers). After cutting individual tiles in halves or thirds, we would stick them in the spaces needed. I would say this took a good amount of time, but it helped to have two people working at the same time.

6. Grout – I think purists will tell you to mix your own grout, but I got the pre-mixed and it was fine. The consistency is very much like wet sand, and just like the beach, be prepared to get dirty. There’s just no easy way to grout the tile and keep your countertops clean. I kept plastic on the countertop, but the grout still got all over the place. The good thing is that it’s easy to clean up as long as you get it when it’s still wet.  I also found that it was easier to apply with my hand first, then swipe the grout tool over the tile to make sure it got in spaces. You’ll want to work in sections and go over the tiles with a wet cloth to prevent the grout from drying directly on the tile face. My recommendation is to wipe a section clean several times, not just once. It will save you a ton of time later so you don’t have to chisel dried grout off the tile. 

7. Caulk – Like I said, anywhere the wall meets the counter, you’ll want to caulk. Laying down painter’s tape first allows for that nice clean line. Once you lay out the caulk, use a wet finger to smooth out the line. I’m not sure if I needed to, but I also caulked up underneath the cabinets; basically I did the whole perimeter of the backsplash.

8. Reconnect faceplates to outlets – some people find that they need to buy new outlet boxes or extenders since the backsplash adds about 1/4″ to the wall, but I found the screws were long enough to get the faceplate back on. If not, you may have to get longer screws or replace the outlet back that goes into the wall. I think the latter option is too much and unnecessary. 

 

Total time was 8 hours and 14 minutes from start to finish with breaks, including time to let the grout dry. We took our time with each step, so doing it again would probably take 6 or so hours, improving our backsplash WOD time. (there’s your CrossFit reference, ok) I had put in undercabinet lighting and a few weeks later rearranged the wires to be more hidden. That might be a future blog post, but at this rate, you won’t see it until the summer!

If you have any questions, just hit the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.