Daily Life

Building a Shed

by Chansoda on July 11, 2019

As soon as spring came, I started on the prep work for my shed. I decided I was going to build it, because I may be a little crazy but am fully determined. I always wanted a project like this, what was I thinking?

*Note: I did a LOT of things wrong on this shed, but hey, I’m an amateur.

The area I scoped out for it was an overgrown mess and had a little patio with an outdoor brick oven that was left for neglect. I discovered the patio when I cleaned the area our first year we moved in, covered in a few inches of dirt. Karla and I decided to knock down that brick oven last spring which left us with quite the ugly mound of rubble. So, as soon as the weather changed, I rented the dumpster and went at it, brick by brick to clear away what has become our “landfill.”

That was a lot of work. One woman, one wheel barrow. Luckily our kind neighbor came to help me speed up the clearing process.

After that was clear, I had to take apart the patio stones and get to work on digging away tree roots, a whole lotta pachysandra, and try to level this thing out. I did contact Call Before You Dig when starting this project, they gave me the okay for the area I was working in.

That was a lot of work. One woman, one wheel barrow, a pickaxe, shovel and some stubborn roots.

Alas, we got it cleared. So to build the retaining wall to level it out with gravel. Now, I definitely suggest using 6x6s, but I can only handle carrying so much so I went with 4x4s. The shed I decided on was going to be 12×16. I needed an area big enough for that. In hindsight, I should have made the gravel pad a lot bigger, because the slope of the hill it would have given me a bit more of a level pad to work on the shed with ladders.

My first experience building a retaining wall… well my first time doing any of this. Karla took some time away from her studies to help me with the wall. That was exciting, because after a month of spending a couple hours after work to clear the land by hand, I can finally see the footprint of the shed!

Now time for the gravel. Holy gravel, we ended up having to order 5 yards total. And this time, it was 2 women, 2 shovels, and one wheel barrow to get every last bit of it in the area. We also rented a compacter to get it nicely level and compacted.

Now the fun begins. I looked online for shed plans, our house is a 1930 colonial, so we decided to keep the shed more traditional. I found some plans on iCreatables, sold! Memorial Day weekend rolled around and that’s when I was able to get started on the build. Had a lot of wood delivered from Home Depot.

Framed the floor, that was a lot of work. Framed a wall, and realized it was damn hard to lift the wall by myself. Then had to pause because it rained (it rained a lot during the build). I called on my brothers for help and my big brother came through! We were able to frame out the walls of the shed in a days work. That’s when I realized, damn, this thing is big! Better than thinking oh no, it’s too small.

On the second day, I had two of my brothers helping so we were able to build the loft and sheath most of the shed, and get started on the roof.

The roof was the most difficult part. The rafters were attached to a ridge board, I had to learn about roof pitch, angles, seat cuts and bird’s mouth… yes I had to redo the rafters a few times…

It was finally in place we could securely sheath the roof. My neighbor came to help this time, apparently he really likes doing roofs!

It rained, a lot, took a couple of weeks because of the weather delay, but we finally got the roof done. And hey, it looks pretty good. Shingling the roof was fun, being on the roof, eh, not so much at times. Luckily there is this big maple that provided some shade relief. Also roof brackets help since the pitch was on the steep side.

I ended up buying all kinds of nailers for this shed project. A framing nailer, roofing nailer, siding nailer, palm nailer, brad nailers, staple nailers. All extremely useful tools, some really loud, but lots of fun to use… and will I be using it again? Gosh I hope so, they were’t cheap. What was I thinking?

Windows, trim, siding and doors are next! I decided to Tyvek the thing. A bit overkill for the shed, but I’ve gotten this far. As for windows, I had 8 total. Karla helped me put them in, it was nice to have a second person on the other side to shim for you when trying to level.

For the siding, I decided to go with LP Lap Siding, because they were available at Lowes and seemed easy to work with. It was pretty nice stuff. Using the Gecko clamps that I purchased online, my neighbor and I were able to put it up fairly fast.

And that’s where we are now. I still have to finish the siding, soffit the eaves, finish off trim, build the door, caulk (a lot of caulking) and finally paint. It’s been a great and challenging experience. I definitely learned a a lot from this and messed up a ton of things while cutting corners in several areas that I hope won’t cost me too much down the line, such as leaving the front rafters to finish off the roof in front of the dormer, but I don’t mind how it looks.

I’m proud that it has gotten this far. It was a time consuming and kind of costly project, but enjoyed every minute of building it. I’m extremely thankful for my brothers who brought some of their muscle to do the heavy lifting, my neighbor/friend Fernando, who has been there almost everyday after work to remind me that winter is coming and helping me finish the shed, and Karla, for tolerating the mess and lending a helping hand when she can.

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ChansodaBuilding a Shed

Brooke Turns 2

by Chansoda on October 1, 2018

I absolutely adore my little niece. Here we are wishing her a balloonful birthday at 2 years old. I love her excitement for the little things.

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ChansodaBrooke Turns 2

We Became Homeowners!

by Chansoda on January 12, 2018

Karla and I closed on our first home. Closing date kept changing but then it ended up falling on my dad’s birthday. Such a bittersweet day, knowing that even though he’s gone, he’s still here with me as we journey towards the American dream he had always hoped for us. I really felt this was the right house, and the closing date confirmed it for me. Happy birthday Pa.

We fell in love with this house the first time we saw it are so excited and relieved that this day finally came. Moving… but cannot wait to start this next chapter.

We went for a short walk after the closing to take in the not so cold foggy day in our new town. (And the house pic is actually from the realtor’s site, winter wasn’t the best time to take the pics!)

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ChansodaWe Became Homeowners!

We are Bee Keepers!

by Chansoda on May 9, 2016

Karla and I are official beekeepers now! We are starting off with two honey bee colonies. I built my first two top bar hives from scratch following some plans and learned a lot while trying to advance my woodworking skills. I think the hives I built came out looking alright, the bees are taking to it. It was hard finding the time to build and breathing in all that saw dust in the musty basement was probably not good for my health. At least they got done.

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ChansodaWe are Bee Keepers!

Big Family, Big Wedding!

by Chansoda on July 14, 2015

Multiple day wedding for the Roeun family! My brother finally made it official and married his long time girlfriend this past weekend. Several family members came in from out of town to share in this day. So nice to see how big our family has gotten.

The bride and groom did a traditional Khmer ceremony on Friday, multiple costume changes and all at the bride’s home. I served as the family photographer for the day, Karla served as one of the bridesmaids. There was a live traditional Khmer wedding band that accompanied the different parts of the ceremony. It was absolutely beautiful to see the different wedding acts.

Then on Saturday followed the big American style wedding and reception with over 400 guests in attendance. Karla and I were honored to both be bridesmaids for this one. A lot of dancing, a lot of people, such a crazy fun night. I only wished my father was alive to come and join in the celebration. It was really nice to see my oldest brother Pek fulfill the role of my father and accompany my mother alongside everything.


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ChansodaBig Family, Big Wedding!

The Walkway

by Chansoda on June 24, 2015

After the garden, we tackled the walkway leading to it. Wanted to add some interesting landscaping to the yard, because you know… we didn’t do enough digging and hauling with the garden already (sarcasm).

But seriously, it looks much better. And the digging, nope, did not get any easier. But we did it! The first original home owners were big in to their landscaping, but it got lost and overgrown throughout the years. So working in the yard always feels a little bit like an excavation. We unearthed a lot of hidden belgian blocks in the ground that use to line their gardens and walkways and were able to gather them up to line our new gravel walkway. We even got a bit of a history lesson on them. The community was founded by a group of Jewish NYC firemen who wanted a summer home/camp for their families. When the streets of NY were being ripped up, the cobbled pavers removed to make new roads, these guys decided to grab them and use it up here in their homes. So, original belgian blocks from the streets of New York City, literally.  Pretty cool.

After the digging was done, we thought the hard part was over. It would have been had the gravel been delivered right next to the walkway. But instead it was dumped on the driveway… which is fine, at least it wasn’t the wrong driveway.

Shovel. Wheelbarrel. Haul. Dump. Repeat until we eventually used up the two yards of gravel.

No more (big) landscaping projects after this.

As for our garden, it’s growing very nicely.

And the sound of pea gravel beneath our feet is soothing to hear.













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ChansodaThe Walkway

A “Raney” Birthday at Two Roads

by Chansoda on June 13, 2015

We celebrated our friend Erin’s (Rane) birthday with a trip to Two Roads Brewery in Stratford this weekend.

Very cool brewery and highly recommend a visit if you’re interested in science, or beer, or just the science of beer! Definitely take the tour, it’s fairly inexpensive, you’ll learn a lot, and a plus, they give you beer to try! I love how they turned around the old historic US Baird building in to this beautiful factory and pumped so much life back in to it. It’s really impressive that they just started brewing a couple years ago (still considered a start up), but they already have expansions on the way and putting out some great craft beers.

We ordered a flight and found that Karla and I are partial to the Honeyspot Road White IPA, it had a nice clean crisp taste with a smooth sweet aroma to it. So so good on a hot summer day. Enjoyed it with some unhealthy fried goodness and serious layered baked potatoes from The Spud Stud food truck, parked outside for your convenience. (Check out the Two Roads website for their food truck schedule)

Great visit, and from their website, looks like they have lot going on, so if you like good brews, definitely check them out.

It was really hard to take good pictures with beer in hand, and beer on brain = tipsy.


Grab a beer and have a seat at Two Roads


Huge vats!


The ladies!


All kinds of brews!


The Honeyspot hits the spot!


I suggest you try them all.


Factory tour



Samples for everyone!


the malts!


What do you see in there?









The foam is a good thing.



wanna try some veggie mite…



almost my last name, almost…


Supporting the local brewery with Two Roads gear from the shop.





sporting our gear!


Yeaaa growlers of beer!



growler monster!



And one for the Road… errr, Two for the Road…



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ChansodaA “Raney” Birthday at Two Roads