Tag Archives: retire early

Rites of Passage: Touring New Belgium Brewery with my Son

Our oldest son, Cameron, turned 21 years old in November. This was our first visit to Fort Collins, Colorado to visit him since he turned 21.

Cameron said that many years ago I promised to take him to Ireland when he turned 21 to sit at a local pub and he could share his first beer with me. I don’t remember that promise and his schedule with college was too busy to make that a reality so we decided to share our first beer together closer to home — at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado.

New Belgium Brewery with Cameron

New Belgium Brewery with Cameron

New Belgium Brewery

If you’ve ever drank a Fat Tire craft beer,  you’ve had beer by New Belgium. New Belgium brewery was started in 1991 after founder Jeff Lebesch toured breweries in Belgium on his bicycle. The first beer they produced was named “Fat Tire”, after that Belgium trip.

New Belgium is now the 8th largest brewery in the USA and has almost 500 employees. They will soon be opening a brewery in Ashville, North Carolina.

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

 

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

If you are ever in Fort Collins, Colorado, you must take a tour of New Belgium. The tour lasts about an hour where you will learn the history of New Belgium, the process of creating beer, and you get to sample lots of beer along the way.

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

Getting a job at New Belgium is difficult because so many people want to work there. Our tour guide was talking about how his interview went. He first purchased several cases of Fat Tire beer and used it as the backdrop for his video interview.

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado

The employees of New Belgium all own stock in the company and are encouraged to drive energy efficient automobiles. They have electric filling stations for electric cars.

Environmentally conscious

Environmentally conscious

IMG_3179

Once the tour was over, we were invited to slide down the New Belgium slide and of course we took part.

New Belgium Slide

New Belgium Slide

Oskar Blues Brewery

A few days later, we went to a brewery in Longmont, Colorado that we had never been to. It was called Oskar Blues and the tasting room had a really cool hipsterish kinda vibe.

Oskar Blues Brewery was started in 1997 by Dale Katechis and are unique because they don’t bottle any beer. They only package cans and kegs.

You may have tried their Dale’s Pale Ale, it is a popular beer that was named “Best Pale Ale” by the New York Times in 2005.  Dale Katechis first brewed Dale’s Pale Ale in his bathtub while a student at Auburn University.

Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado

Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, Colorado

We went with a couple of friends we met last year in Fort Collins and we are now starting to get to know them better. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Doug and Julie - our new Fort Collins buddies

Doug and Julie – our new Fort Collins buddies

There was a band playing and as you can see from the pictures, dogs are welcome and shoes are optional. My kind of bar.

Band from Maine

Band from Maine

Pinner (a small joint) - it is Colorado!

Pinner (a small joint) – it is Colorado!

Shoes optional

Shoes optional

Cool funky vibe

Cool funky vibe

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Exploring History in Savannah, Georgia

We’ve wanted to explore Savannah, Georgia for some time now and we finally grabbed the opportunity.

Original Capital of Georgia

Savannah was the first city to be settled by the British in the Georgia colony and later became the capital. It was settled by General James Oglethorpe to protect the Carolinas from Spanish owned Florida and French owned Louisiana. It is a port city on the eastern coast of Georgia.

Map of Savannah Georgia

The architecture of Savannah reminded us of European cities we’ve visited but the moss laden trees really give it character.

European Style Cathedrals

European Style Cathedrals

Savannah City Hall

Savannah City Hall

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Mossy trees

Savannah has 22 squares, giving it a distinct European feel.

Square with statue of Oglethorpe

Square with statue of Oglethorpe

Savannah is a vibrant city especially during the tourist season when they attract millions of visitors. We visited several museums and took a city tour. You can also take ghost tours (it is supposedly the most haunted city in the south) and carriage rides.

Ghost Tours

Ghost Tours

Carriage Rides

Carriage Rides

Tybee Island

Referred to as “Savannah Beach”, Tybee Island is a short car ride away. The Tybee Island Light Station was the first lighthouse on the Southern Atlantic Coast.

Tybee Island Light Station

Tybee Island Light Station

Along the beach are swings where you can rest as you take in the scenery. I wish we had these in Panama City Beach!

Swings along the beach

Swings along the beach

Katie taking a brief walk

Katie taking a brief walk

Fort Pulaski

On the way to Tybee Island is Fort Pulaski, the largest fort in Savannah, designed to protect Savannah during the Civil War. The fort was no match for the rifled cannons of the Union army and it fell to Union soldiers. As you walk around the fort, you can see a cannon ball still lodged in the exterior walls of the fort.

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

100 Year Old Home

We rented a 100 year old home during our stay. It had a 4 sided fireplace shaped like a diamond so that the 4 adjoining rooms had their own fireplace, all sharing the same chimney. Very cool.

4 sided fireplace

4 sided fireplace

Savannah Breweries

As we usually do, we sought out the local brew houses. We visited Moon River Brewing Company and enjoyed a nice amber ale.

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Moon River Brewing Company

Slide Show of Savannah

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures we took in Savannah, click the image below.

Slideshow

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Hanging with the Snow Birds in Hilton Head, SC

This was our first visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hilton Head sits just off the southeastern coast of South Carolina and offers 12 miles of beachfront property lining the Atlantic Ocean.

Hilton Head SC

Hilton Head SC

Thousands of years ago, Hilton Head was a seasonal habitation for native Americans and was settled by European explorers for sea island cotton trade. It was an important island for the Civil War as it served the Union navy with an important blockade route for the southern ports. Once the Union had control of the island, many slaves migrated there and they became known as “native islanders”.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island

Sunrise in Hilton Head

We stayed in a newly renovated 1 bedroom condo with water views. It was nicely decorated and we enjoyed our stay there. During our time there, we met numerous snow birds from Ontario, Canada. They were staying for months at a time.

Katie enjoying the beach

Katie enjoying the beach

Lighthouse in Hilton Head

Lighthouse in Hilton Head

Sunrise in Hilton Head

One of the things that surprised us was that there were tons on people walking the beaches, even at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One morning I woke up early and caught the sunrise.

Sunrise on Hilton Head

Sunrise on Hilton Head

Hilton Head Sunrise

Hilton Head Sunrise

Sunrise in Hilton Head

Sunrise in Hilton Head

Baynard Ruins

We also visited the Baynard Ruins, a plantation home that included a main house and slave quarters. The house which overlooked the Calibogue Sound near the south end of the island, was built by Captain Jack Stoney as part of Braddock’s Point Plantation around 1793.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

The house remained in the Stoney family for several decades until it was lost by a Stoney heir in a late-night poker game. The new owner was William Baynard, a highly successful cotton planter who occupied the former Stoney home from 1840 until his death in 1849.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

The home was raided during the Civil War and Union forces made it their headquarters. It burned down shortly after the Civil War.

Baynard Ruins

Baynard Ruins

Golfing in Hilton Head

Unfortunately, I did not bring my golf clubs on this trip but Hilton Head has lots of incredibly manicured golf courses. I will have to make another trip back here to golf at some time in the future.

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Scenic Hilton Head

Slide Show of Hilton Head

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures we took at Hilton Head, click on the picture below.

Hilton Head SC Slide Show

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Coastal Towns of South Carolina: Myrtle Beach and Charleston

After visiting Nags Head, North Carolina, we pointed our compass south. Our first stop was Myrtle Beach, the “Golf Capital of the World“. Boasting 100 incredibly manicured golf courses, this is a golfer’s paradise. Our next stop was Charleston, the site where the civil war began.

Myrtle Beach

Entering the city limits of Myrtle Beach, we passed golf course after golf course. All perfectly manicured, I can see why this is called the “Golf Capital of the World”. Traveling with our dog, I was not able to bring my golf clubs on this trip but I would have loved to play one of these courses.

View the Myrtle Beach Slide Show

The beaches of Myrtle Beach are expansive but I still think the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico are nicer (with our sugar sand and emerald-green waters).

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

One of the cool things about Myrtle Beach is that they have a boardwalk, something I wish we had on Scenic 30-a. They also have plenty of things to keep you busy, like zip lining, ferris wheels, and arcades.

Zip lines in Myrtle Beach

Zip lines in Myrtle Beach

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach

Boardwalk of Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Ferris Wheel

Myrtle Beach Ferris Wheel

As usual, we sought out a craft brewery. We visited New South Brewery but we were not very impressed with their craft beers — too watery for our tastes.

New South Brewery

New South Brewery

Charleston

Charleston is steeped in history as it was the main port for receiving slaves prior to the Civil War. Fittingly, this is also where the first shots of the Civil War were fired which lead to the end of a century of oppression. Evidence of the Civil War is everywhere.

View slide show of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is also a beautiful port city with century old mansions that take advantage of the seaside views.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Angel Oak

Near Charleston is an oak tree estimated to be about 1,400 years old, the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. Angel Oak measures 66 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference. The tree is massive, it reminded me of some of the huge trees we saw in the California Redwood forest.

Angel Oak

Angel Oak

Plantations of Charleston

Charleston has numerous plantations whose main crop was rice.

Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall was built by John Drayton in 1738 and has been preserved from that period. You won’t find many restorations (only those to keep it structurally sound) and you won’t find any furniture in the mansion. On our visit in late January, the house was cold and drafty.

Drayton Hall, Charleston SC

Drayton Hall, Charleston SC

Drayton Hall from the Reflecting Pool

Drayton Hall from the Reflecting Pool

Inside Drayton Hall

Inside Drayton Hall

Beautiful Grounds of Drayton Hall

Beautiful Grounds of Drayton Hall

Hampton Plantation

On our way to Charleston, we stumbled onto Hampton Plantation. This is not the most visited plantation but it looked very similar to how I visualized plantations to look in the early 1800’s.

Hampton Plantation

Hampton Plantation

Charles Pinckney Farm

We also visited the Charles Pinckney farm. Charles Pinckney was the 37th governor of South Carolina and one of the architects and signers of the constitution. We were surprised to learn that South Carolina was the wealthiest state of the union at the time of the Civil War, more wealthy than Pennsylvania and New York.

Charles Pinckney Farm

Charles Pinckney Farm

Breweries of Charleston

Tradesman Brewing Company

We visited a couple of breweries while in Charleston. Our favorite was Tradesman Brewing Co. Located in a house that was converted to a brewery, it has a funky laid back vibe. The co-owner and wife of the brew master was serving up the beer and spent a lot of time with us bringing us up to speed on the local life of Charleston. She graciously suggested places to visit and talked about what it is like to live as a local in Charleston.

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Tradesman Brewing Company

Bay Street Bier Garden

The Bay Street Bier Garden (yes, they spell it Bier instead of Beer) is a cool place to enjoy your favorite brew. It has community tables where you can purchase a card that allows you to pour as little or as much beer as you desire from the taps at the community table. Pretty cool concept.

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Bay Street Bier Garden

Community Table Taps

Community Table Taps

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Slideshow of our Trip to Portugal

It seems like our trip to Portugal last summer was just yesterday. I finally pulled together a slide show of pictures from our stop in Lisbon, Portugal, I hope you enjoy it.

Lisbon, Portugal

LisbonPortugal

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Meet some Financial gurus that know a bit about Life Style Freedom

First of all, I am not a financial guru by any stretch of the imagination, but I love personal finance and enjoy reading inspirational stories about how others have paved their way to financial independence.

Most people who retire early are seeking life style freedom. They want to be able to plan their day as they wish. If they feel like playing golf, hiking, biking or taking a road trip somewhere, they just get up and go. If they want to vacation for a month or more, they can do it. If they want to work full or part-time on a job that is fun for them, they just do it.

We achieved life style freedom by selling our software company in 2009 but not everyone has a business to sell.  So do you have to own and sell a business to achieve life style freedom? No, there are people that had jobs with average salaries that saved their way to life style freedom. Let me introduce you to a few of them.


Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache (Pete)

Mr. Money Mustache (Pete)

Although he goes by the name Mr. Money Mustache, his real name is Pete and his last name he wants to keep anonymous. He retired at 30 years old on a nest egg of about $600,000 of which he saved by stuffing away about 75% of his paycheck into savings. He is now a multi-millionaire.

He started the Mr. Money Mustache website to share his financial prowess with others and offers a free discussion forum where like-minded people swap advice about money, investing and creating life style freedom. If you like personal finance, I highly recommend visiting this website.

Website: http://www.MrMoneyMustache.com 


Robert and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton

Robert (Bob) and Robin retired at 43 years old the old-fashioned way, they saved their way to retirement. Although the couple averaged only about $89,000 in combined salaries per year, they amassed almost $1 million in savings over a 15 year period.

Bob recently wrote a book about early retirement called How to Retire Early (click here to see it) and it is one of the top-rated books in the Retirement section of Amazon. It takes you through a journey of exactly how they accomplished it. It is very transparent and incredibly motivating. We met Bob and Robin a few years ago after we retired. We share a love of travel and they document their travels on their personal website.

Website: http://www.WhereWeBe.com 


Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha owned a restaurant and decided to ditch the working grind at 38 years old. After accumulating savings in their dual career jobs and selling the restaurant, they had a net worth of about $500,000.

They have been retired now for over 25 years and their nest egg is larger than when they retired. They live on about $30,000 per year and travel the world most of the year.  Their website offers financial advice and documents their world travels.

When we started planning our early retirement, I read Billy and Akaisha’s book called “The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement” and it offered motivation and pragmatic advice regarding retiring early. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so.

Website: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com


How much does it take to Retire?

So how much is enough? First, try to reduce your monthly expenses as much as you can by following advice from the people above. Once you have that down, take your monthly expenses and make them yearly (multiply by 12) and then multiple that number by 25. For example, if your monthly expenses are $3000, your annual expenses are $36,000. Multiply that by 25 and it means you need $900,000 of investments to retire.

This is called the “safe withdrawal rate” or the “4% rule”. Click here for a really good article that explains the 4% rule in more detail.

Now, do you need all of that to quit a job you hate and take a cooler job that you enjoy? No. Let’s say you only have investments of $500,000 and your yearly expenses are $36,000. You can safely withdraw 4% of your $500,000 per year without ever running out of money, so that means you can withdraw $20,000 per year. So if you wanted to ditch your job and get a more fun job (maybe a part-time job) where you clear $16,000 per year, you could safely retire with the $500,000 in investments.

Are you nuts?

OK, I now hear you saying “Are you crazy? How can I (or we) save $900,000? I have almost no savings at this time!”. Bob and Robin Charlton also had no savings in 1992 and decided they wanted to change their life. So they embarked on a 15 year journey to save money and they retired with almost $1 million in the bank in just 15 years. Read the full story here.

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Cool Cabin in the North Carolina Mountains

As I mentioned in my earlier post about goals, we wanted to vacation more this year in the states so we took our first adventure to North Carolina. We rented this cool, yet tiny, cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina. Situated in the Appalachian Mountains, the cabin had incredible views of the tree laden Smoky Mountains.

See a slide show here

Woodland Loft Cabin

Woodland Loft Cabin

The cabin was small, my guess is that it was about 300-400 square feet. But it made great use of the space. It had flat screen TVs, a fireplace, views from almost every inch of the cottage, a pretty large bathroom and a small kitchen. It also had a nice deck area with hot tub.

Great views from the bedroom

Great views from the bedroom

Deck with Hot Tub

Deck with Hot Tub

Hiking in Deep Creek

Just minutes from Bryson City is the Deep Creek entry to the Smoky Mountain National Park. From here you can hike the Three Waterfalls Loop. This is a pretty easy 3 mile hike that provides up close views of 3 waterfalls.  As we started our hike, a deer was just a few feet away drinking from the creek.

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Deer drinking from Deep Creek

Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Tom Branch Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Indian Creek Falls

Biltmore House in Asheville

Located about a hour from Bryson City in Asheville, NC, the Biltmore House is an impressive mansion built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt. Situated on an 8,000 acre estate, the Biltmore includes a house, vineyard, winery, farm, and tons of hiking trails. We’ve visited several mansions in the USA and a number of castles in Europe but this home is decorated in the most tasteful way we’ve seen.

The Biltmore House includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, a gym, and a swimming pool. As we walked through the rooms and visited the huge kitchen and servant quarters, it reminded us of the popular series “Downton Abbey”. They don’t allow taking photos from inside of the house, so you should plan a trip to Asheville to see it for yourself.

The Biltmore Huose

The Biltmore Huose

Local Craft Breweries

We always tend to seek out local craft brew houses when traveling. In Bryson City, we visited Nantahala Brewing Company. When we walked in, one of the locals entertained us with stories of the Appalachian trail, other local breweries, and his love of Alabama football.

Nantahala Brewing Company

Nantahala Brewing Company

Our new friend told us about breweries in a town about 10 minutes away called Sylva and told us that Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other place in America. I always thought Fort Collins, CO was the brew capital, who knew! We had to visit more breweries.

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Heinzelmannchen Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

Innovations Brewery in Sylva

One of the breweries in Asheville that the local told us about was Pour. At Pour, they have 43 taps where you can sample any of the beers they offer. They give you a bracelet that you scan to allow you to pour as little or as much as you like and you pay for what you pour. Very cool idea.

Bracelet used for Pour

Bracelet used for Pour

Pour - 43 taps

Pour – 43 taps

Cherokee

Our final stop around the Bryson City area was in a town about 15 minutes away called Cherokee. Here they have museum that details the life of the Cherokee Indians and their plight with the Europeans that drove them out of their homeland. The exhibits were well done and informative. After visiting the museum I’ve decided to read the book The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765.

Catching up with Old Friends

We took this travel opportunity to catch up with some old friends. My best friend from high school, Bill Stuart (the author of Gemstone Chronicles), lives just north of Atlanta. He and his wife Lana met Lynn and me in Dillard, Georgia one night for dinner. It was the first time I had seen Bill since high school and it was great to see him and meet Lana.

About 3 hours east of Bryson City is Charlotte, North Carolina. Another high school friend, Bill Baxley, lives there. As we began heading towards the coast, we stopped in Charlotte to see Bill and his wife Michelle. This was our first time meeting Michelle and it was really great connecting with them during our journey.

Where are We Heading Next?

As we leave Bryson City, we will make our way to the east coast. We plan to visit the beaches of Nags Head, NC to see where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first flight. We also plan to see Cape Hatteras to photograph the iconic light house.

Leaving Nags Head, we plan to stop into Myrtle Beach (although I did not bring my golf clubs). Then on to Charleston SC, Hilton Head SC and then to Savannah GA.

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DIY Project: Build a Chalk Board with Cork Board

We were looking for a chalk board for our condo so that we could post notes, menus and other things. I wanted it to have a distressed look and did not want to spend a lot of money, so I decided to build it myself. In this blog, I will step you though the process.

Finished Chalk Board

Finished Chalk Board

What Materials are Needed?

To create a chalk board, you just need a few things, the cost will be about $30 – $40 in total:

  • Thin Plywood – This will be the actual chalk board. I bought a piece from Home Depot for less than $10 and had them cut it to fit (24″ wide x 30″ tall).
  • 1 x 4 boards for frame – I used boards from an old pallet but you can also purchase 1 x 4 white pine board from Home Depot for about $2.50 for an 8 foot piece (purchase 2 of those).
  • Chalk Board Paint – You can purchase Valspar spray-on Chalk Board Paint at Home Depot for about $6.
  • Screws – You will need some screws (#6 x 1/2″) to secure the plywood to the frame, cost of this will be about $4.
  • Sandpaper – I used some existing sand paper (medium grain), it will set you back a couple of bucks if you need to purchase it.
  • White Paint – I used some existing ceiling paint, but any type of non-glossy paint will work well.
  • Stain – If you don’t have an old pallet, you can purchase white pine 1 x 4 wood for your frame. If you wish to make it appear to have a distressed look, you will need some stain as an undercoat. I used some stain I had lying around the house.
  • Cork Board – You can pick up Cork Board from Michael’s or Home Depot.
  • Painter’s Cut-In Brush – You can pick this up from Home Depot for about $3.

Step 1 – Paint the Plywood

Paint the chalk board

Paint the chalk board

If you did not get the plywood cut from Home Depot or wherever your purchased it, cut it to your desired size. I had mine cut to 24″ wide x 30″ high.

Once cut, lightly sand the plywood then spray the chalk board paint by holding it about 8-10 inches away in a sweeping motion.

Allow it to dry for about 30 minutes and apply one more coat.

Step 2 – Paint the Frame

If you have access to an old wooden pallet, it will most likely be distressed looking so there is no need to make it look distressed, you will just need to sand them so that they are smooth to the touch.

Wooden Slats from a Pallet

Wooden Slats from a Pallet

However, if you don’t have access to an old wooden pallet, you probably purchased (2) 8 foot 1″ x 4″ white pine slats.

White Pine Slats

White Pine Slats

To make it look distressed, first sand both sides of the white pine slats. It should be somewhat smooth to the touch once you are done sanding it.

Next, use a hammer and a nail to make nail holes in the white pine board.  Drag the sharp end of your nail along the grain of the wood to make marks — giving it an aged look.

Hammer nail holes to make it look distressed

Hammer nail holes to make it look distressed

Next, apply some stain to the wood slats. It really does not matter what color stain you use, I used English Chestnut.

English Chestnut Stain

English Chestnut Stain

Stain the wood

Stain the wood

Once the wood is stained, you can begin painting, no need to wait for it to fully dry. Use a painter’s cut-in brush to apply the white paint to the stained board. I like the painter’s cut-in brush because it does not leave any brush marks and allows you to vary the pressure of the brush to allow stained areas to show through — giving it that aged look.

Painter's Cut-In Brush

Painter’s Cut-In Brush

Notice how I let areas of stain show through

Notice how I let areas of stain show through

As mentioned earlier, if you were able to get some wooden pallet boards, there is no need to stain them, simply paint them with the white ceiling paint as I described above for the white pine slats. Here is what that might look like:

Pallet wood before painting

Pallet wood before painting

Pallet wood after painting

Pallet wood after painting

Step 3 – Cut the Frame

Once you have stained / painted the wood pieces, you will now cut them for the frame. I used a miter saw and cut each end at 45 degree angles. I measured them so that the long side was 3 inches wider and 3 inches longer than the plywood chalk board. That will allow you to screw the chalk board into the frame.

The trickiest part of this entire project was getting the 45 degree cuts correct because if you are off by one or two degrees, the joints will not align properly. So it is best to cut those pieces about 12 inches longer than you normally would and test out your joints first. Once you know you have the cuts right, you can shorten them.

45 degree cuts for the frame

45 degree cuts for the frame

You will want to secure the back of the frame with an L-bracket as shown here:

L bracket

L-Brackets

 

The final step is to simply attach the cork board to the plywood (I cut the cork board to 10 inches tall and the exact width of the chalk board) and attached the plywood to the frame. I secured the plywood to the frame using small screws (#6 x 1/2″) spaced about 6 inches apart.  Below is the finished project, hung on the wall:

Finished chalk board

Finished chalk board

I hope you enjoyed this post, if I can do it, so can you!

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2014 In the Rear View Mirror

I can’t believe that I retired over 2 years ago. When this August 1st came along, I didn’t even realize that it was my retirement anniversary until I remembered it a week or so later. As I did last year, I wanted to share a review of 2014.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2014

We brought in the New Year in Fort Collins with our boys (Cameron and Ryan). We got to learn more about Fort Collins and spent some quality time with the boys. Cameron and I skied Breckenridge and had a great time.

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir

Cameron skiing

Cameron skiing

In February, we returned to Florida with much warmer weather than we had experienced in Colorado. We took some day trips a couple hours away to visit Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, and Cape San Blas. I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm days.

Cape San Blas

Cape San Blas

Sunset on Scenic 30A

Sunset on Scenic 30A

Spring 2014

For Spring Break, we returned to Fort Collins.  Now that it was warming up a bit, we were able to hike and cycle the numerous scenic trails.

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Hiking Fort Collins

Hiking Fort Collins

We also got out and explored the Fort Collins breweries. While visiting the local brew houses, we met some new friends (Doug and Julie) — they are also into craft breweries.

Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery

Tour of Funkwerks

Tour of Funkwerks

Summer 2014

Our youngest son, Ryan, decided that he wanted to take the summer off and transfer from Colorado State University to the University of Florida. Since he was taking the summer off, we decided to travel to Europe for the summer. Our oldest son, Cameron, was working during the summer, so he stayed in Ft. Collins. This was the first time we had traveled with Ryan since we retired, it was a great way to spend the summer.

Paris, France

We spent 2 weeks in Paris, renting a small apartment just down the street from the Arch de Triomphe. We explored all that the city had to offer, visiting all of the major attractions and taking excursions to the French country side, visiting wineries and chateaus.

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

Back entry to the Chateau

Chateau

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Spain

After leaving Paris, we flew to Barcelona, Spain.  We stayed in Spain for about a month and was able to visit Montserrat and Costa Brava.

Costa Brava

Costa Brava

Montserrat

Montserrat

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Barcelona Beach

Barcelona Beach

Our Spain trip was scheduled around the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, where we had front row seats from a balcony overlooking the festival. It was incredibly fun.

Ryan all dressed up

Ryan all dressed up

Running of the Bulls

Running of the Bulls

We capped off our visit to Spain by visiting Valencia, Madrid, Laguardia, and Bilbao.

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Flamenco Dancing

Flamenco Dancing in Madrid

Laguardia Spain

Laguardia Spain

Incredible castle view

Incredible castle view – Laguardia Spain

Italy

After leaving Spain, we headed to Italy. We started our travels in northern Italy, visiting Milan and Lake Como.

Duomo in Milan

Duomo in Milan

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

From here, we headed to the Italian Riviera which was probably our favorite area of Italy.

Vernazza

Vernazza

Monterosso

Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

After leaving the Italian Riviera, we headed south to Rome, Tuscany, Pompeii and Capri. The blue grotto in Capri was stunning.

Rome

Rome

Tuscany

Tuscany

Pompeii

Pompeii

Capri

Capri

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

Portugal

Our final stop in Europe was in Portugal. We did not stay here very long but in hindsight, we should have stayed a few more days to take it all in.

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Fall 2014

After Europe, we spent about a month in Fort Collins then headed back to Florida. Ryan came back with us so that he could take a Physics class as he awaited his acceptance to the University of Florida.

Ryan and I decided to challenge ourselves to cycle 50 miles on the bicycle (I did the challenge in 2013 but he wanted to try it as well). He and I trained hard and completed a 45 mile and 50 mile ride a week apart. We finished the 50 miles in just 3 hours, 45 minutes quicker than when I did it by myself in 2013.

With the great weather we’ve had in Florida since our return, we’ve been boating, swimming, fishing, and spending lots of time outside. It has been fun having Ryan with us for a few months. He starts at the University of Florida in January so we will miss him.

Huge Jelly Fish

Huge Jelly Fish

Paragliders on the beach

Gliders on the beach

End of 2014

We are spending December in Florida. Cameron and Ryan will be here for Christmas so we will get to spend some great family time together.

In the Fall, we purchased a piece of land pretty close to the beach in Inlet Beach (about a mile from where we live today). We are planning to build a home on the lot, hopefully beginning in the Spring or early Summer.

We haven’t planned our next travel adventure yet, but we will definitely take a trip somewhere in 2015. Maybe Greece, Malta, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, or Finland? Not sure, but they all sound great!

Slideshow of our Trip to France

Spending 8 days of our Summer vacation in Paris allowed us to see most of the city and even venture out to Champagne and Burgundy for wine and champagne tours. I pulled together some pictures and put them into a slide show for you to see.  Here you go!

Burgundy, France

Burgundy is filled with incredible castles and wineries. We visited some of the most famous castles (Chateaus in French) including Chateau de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau, and Chateau de Nitray  (also a winery).

Burgundy

Champagne, France

Until this visit, I was not a big fan of champagne but after tasting some of the selections on this tour, I became a big fan. We visited Moet and Mumm champagne houses on this excursion. If you have heard of the extremely spendy champagne called Dom Perignon, then you know Moet — they make it.

Champagne

Paris, France

This was our second visit to Paris but this time we stayed for 8 days. We visited all of the attractions and spent a really long day at the Louvre museum.  We could have spent several days there with the amount of artifacts they have. We stayed in a small Paris apartment that was just a short walk to the Arc de Triomphe. It got dark really late (around 10 to 11 pm) so we ate late dinners, just like the Parisians. We love Paris!

Paris