Sunday, August 28, 2011


We are TOTALLY stoked about this new hobby we just discovered!!

I was chatting with my pastor the other day and he told me that his family does this thing called Letterboxing. He told me to Google it to learn more. (since his wife, who is really the one who knows all about it, wasn't there to teach me!) I went and looked it up and found two sites for it:

Letterboxing North America (which covers all of the North American Continent, not just the USA)


Atlas Quest (which covers the whole world!)

So what is Letterboxing you ask? Well, I'm glad you're interested! Let me enlighten you on this totally awesome family hobby! (It's totally free too!!)

A letterbox is any kind of waterproof container that contains a rubber stamp and a logbook. Here are a couple examples of the ones we have found:

This one was in a heavy ziploc type bag.

This was just in a Tupperware container.
The stamp is the most important part of the letterbox. Most of them are hand carved and have some significance to the location or follow some sort of theme. The detail in some of them is absolutely amazing, there are some really talented artists out there! Check this one out:

When you find a Letterbox, you put the stamp in your logbook. We just used a three ring binder and blank paper for ours. Tammy had some page protectors for scrap-booking so we put the completed pages in those:

You also use your own stamp to stamp the logbook in the Letterbox and put whatever information you like in there. We put our names, the date, and where we are from.

Making a stamp was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I just carved it out of a big pink eraser with an X-acto knife and glued it to a small block of wood. There is a nice tutorial on how to do it on the Letterboxing North America website. Ours is pretty simple:

That's our trail name, the Schafer Snoopers!

I might try to make a nicer one sometime but for now we like this one! :)

Now, you're probably wondering how one goes about finding these Letterboxes. Never fear, I have been saving the best for last!

These things are hidden by people all over the world! People who have discovered Letterboxing make their own and hide them. They then post clues on the websites so people can go find them. Once you find it and do your stamping, you put it back where you found it for the next person to find. There are literally hundreds of thousands of them hidden around the world! They can be hidden in any publicly accessible location. In our first day of searching we visited a public library and found one hiding inside:

We went to several cemeteries to find them hidden in various locations. Some of them were placed in honor of a loved one even.

We also spent several hours hiking through the woods in a huge park to find some:

One of them was really hard to find but we managed to locate it tucked behind some loose bark on an ancient tree:

That's it peaking out right in the center of the picture!

Anyway, we spent an incredible day as a family, discovering new places and having tons of fun! It didn't cost us a dime (except for gas money and our lunch) but we loved it! We did it to celebrate Tammy's birthday and she said it was a wonderful way to celebrate!

This is an absolutely awesome hobby that anyone could enjoy, especially as a family! We intend to keep it up for a long time to come. We'll be hunting letterboxes when we go on vacation and any time we have an afternoon to spend together! You just can't beat it! At least that's my opinion! :)

So have any of you heard of this?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roof - Phase Two

So, now it's time to get rid of the unsightly flat roof over my garage!

I don't like flat roofs because they are the most likely type of roof to leak and they just don't look right on a house! So, when I decided to re-roof the house I figured I might as well frame in the garage roof so it matched the rest of the house.

I started out by building trusses to match the existing roof. I could have bought pre-made trusses but it would have cost about three times as much and been really hard to get a perfect match so I decided to build them myself.

Then it was just a matter of putting the plywood on and closing up the end and presto! a new look for my garage!

This was the most fun of the whole roofing process and was also the least exhausting! I have always enjoyed framing but I hate roofing with a passion! :)

Now, you guessed it, I have a time lapse video of this process. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera went dead and I managed to miss a couple of pretty good chunks but it is still fun to watch! :)

So now all that's left is getting the rest of the shingles done!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Roof - Surprise

Well, I know I'm way behind on posting the progress on my roof but I'm getting there!

If you read my Phase One post you saw that I was presented with a little surprise when I was working on the back section of that end of the house!

This was supposed to be the easiest section of roof. The plan was that Tammy and I would work together pulling the shingles off and then she would work on pulling the nails out and getting it cleaned up and ready for the new shingles.

In the mean time, I was going to tear off this little ugly awning that had become quite an eyesore as well as a trap for cobwebs and stray leaves.

Everything was going great until I got the awning torn off. I discovered that the original flashings were installed wrong and had been allowing water to work its way down under the shingles and behind the siding.and into the wall over top of this sliding door! I literally could poke my finger through the plywood on the outside of the wall it was so rotted! I had to tear the entire top of the wall apart so I could rebuild it! Fortunately it was only rotted above the door so I didn't have to go down the sides at all which would have been really hard to do!

That wood you see behind that plastic sheeting is the back of the paneling inside the house! For once I was thankful to not have drywall in there or it would have been a much bigger mess to repair. I was able to rebuild the wall and nail the paneling back in place and be done! I still need to do a little more repair work on the outside and get the siding back up but the wood is solid now so I'm pretty happy!

Thankfully, this was the last surprise I was faced with while doing this roofing project! I'd love to get a hold of the roofers who re-roofed this house about 12 years ago and strangle them for not fixing the flashing the way it should have been instead of leaving it there even though it was wrong! Of course, based on the quality of the workmanship I saw everywhere else, I'm not surprised that they didn't care!

So the next step is framing in the garage roof to eliminate the flat roof and make it peaked to match the rest of the house!!