standing desk

I don’t remember when I first heard about standing desks.  But after reading numerous articles on the dangers of sitting for too many hours each day, I thought I’d give it a try.  It started out as two plastic crates staked on top of each other to bring my laptop up to eye level.  It wasn’t ideal. However, I found that my middle of the night back pain went away immediately after transitioning to a standing desk.  It also seemed to give me extra energy.  Now I’m all in.

When we moved here, we didn’t have any desk at all, so I ended up slouching over my computer while sitting on our dilapidated couch.  That, combine with pregnancy, produced some pretty intense back pain at night, which sometimes kept me tossing and turning for hours.  Ryan decided that the best thing for me would be a standing desk, and that it was priority to get it built as soon as possible.

2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-9

He sketched up a basic plan,2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern LaosAnd set out to find some plywood… which he carried all the way home on his shoulder.2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-3 2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-5Elise got in on the action.  Don’t worry, the saw wasn’t plugged in.2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2Ryan made a solid frame for each level of the desk to support the low quality plywood.2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-4 2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-6He only got so far before it was time for another workweek. So I used the desk as it was for a few days.2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-7 2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-8The next free day he had, Ryan painted it a nice glossy white, as well as added another shelf on the bottom for the printer.2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-10And here it is!diy standing deskThe screen is at eye level, and the keyboard keeps my arms at a 90 degree angle.  It all adds up to good posture and my back pain has basically disappeared.2014-03-15 standing desk by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-12I’m so glad to be getting some good sleep again, and of course, very thankful for my handy man.  Here is some more info on standing desks if you’re interested:

notsitting.com – a whole website dedicated to the how’s and why’s of standing desks

how to guide: standing at work and 15 tips for standing workstations

there could even be psychological benefits to a standing desk

Have you ever considered a standing desk?

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two ingredient laundry detergent

2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos

I started making my own detergent over a year ago because we use cloth diapers and the only detergents available here in Asia are highly perfumed and seem to add a strong smell to my laundry but not actually clean very well.  Plus, cloth diapers can get buildup if washed with detergent containing a bunch of fragrances and other chemicals.  So, I looked up some recipes and found the ingredients and have been making my own detergent ever since.2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2

The recipe only calls for 3 ingredients: washing soda, castile soap, and borax.  However, when I opened up the trunk containing my supplies, I realized the borax had run out.  I certainly haven’t seen any here in our tiny town in Northern Laos, so I thought I’d just try it without.  That’s how my two ingredient laundry detergent was born.

2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2

At the time, we didn’t have internet hooked up in our house yet, so I guessed on the amounts.2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2

I grated the bar of soap.2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2

Added 2 cups of washing soda (one in place of the borax).2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2

And mixed it up.2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2I also guessed on the amount used to wash a load of laundry.  I used 1 tablespoon. 2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2So, how does it work?  It seems to work fine.  I have to heat a small amount of water to dissolve the soap before pouring into the freezing cold load of laundry.  The next batch I think I’ll blend into a fine powder in the blender.  But, the clothes come out smelling… well… like nothing!  They seem to be getting clean, so I’ll stick with my formula for now.2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2We’ve done what we can to improve our laundry system.  Ryan rigged up some shelves to hang up in the laundry room to keep my laundry stuff off the dirty wet floor.2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-22014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-13 All the bathrooms in the house drain onto the floor of the laundry room and down the squatty toilet in the floor.  I’m thinking my laundry room once served as the only bathroom for the house.  By the way, I’m scrubbing window screens in the photo, not using the toilet! 2014-03-07 two ingredient laundry detergent by Melissa Crossett thelandinbetween.com Northern Laos-2And that’s as good as it’s going to get… for now.

Here are a couple links with more info and detailed recipes:

homemade natural laundry detergent made easy – Apparently not every recipe calls for borax.  Maybe I’m fine without it!

homemade laundry detergent – the price breakdown comes out to $0.05 per load!

What do you use to wash your clothes?  Have you ever made your own detergent?

a tale of two beds (bed 2)

Once bed one and a few other projects were complete, Ryan started working on the second bed, our bed.  2014-02-19 DSC_4605

The wood we have available here is pretty rough.  It’s also very inexpensive. So, we use what we have.

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Ryan’s workshop is also less than ideal, but with the whole family’s help, he makes it work.2014-02-19 DSC_4613 2014-02-19 DSC_4616

Some tricks he learned from his Dad growing up also came in handy for marking the boards to rip cut. (I just learned that term from Ryan)2014-02-19 DSC_4620Talia and Elise are always happy to help.  2014-02-19 DSC_4629 2014-02-19 DSC_4634

As soon as the frame was done, Ryan set it up on some cinder-blocks left over from our makeshift bathroom sink so that we could get our mattress off the floor right away.  2014-02-19 DSC_4641 2014-02-19 DSC_4814

Then he worked on building the “stilts” over the course of the next few days. Since we don’t have much storage in our house, we thought it would be helpful to build the bed high enough to make some space for storing our trunks and boxes.

2014-02-19 DSC_4819So, we agreed that we’d make it high enough to store two trunks stacked underneath. 2014-02-19 DSC_4823 2014-02-19 DSC_4824You can see Talia by the bed for reference of how high it was without the mattress on it.  2014-02-19 DSC_4826

I say “was,” because it didn’t last that way for long.  We soon discovered that we couldn’t even get into bed without climbing up on something.  2014-02-19 DSC_4828

And between the time that we planned the bed and had time to actually make it, we found out we were pregnant.  I could just envision myself making all those middle of the night bathroom trips and trying to climb in and out of bed.  Then I thought ahead to all the late night feedings and wondered if this high bed was really a good idea.  To seal the deal, Ryan jumped out of bed in the middle of the night when his phone sounded.  But, in his sleepy state , he had forgotten that the bed was now four feet off the ground.  He hit the floor pretty hard and got a couple bruises.

2014-02-19 DSC_5690So, a few weeks later, Ryan cut the bed down to fit only one trunk.  It is so much better now, and there is still plenty of storage space.

2014-02-19 DSC_5694Why is it, though, that pictures make our bedroom look nicer than real life?  Maybe it’s because it’s missing the musty odor.

Should we have left the bed up on stilts?  Do you have any tips for storage?

a simple closet

diy open closet

We were in dire need of somewhere to organize our clothes.  Living out of trunks long term wasn’t going to work, and the giant entertainment center could only hold so much.2014-02-03DSC_4391

So, Ryan set out to build a simple open closet.  First, we thought it would be cool to use galvanized pipes with all the fittings.  We saw some good ideas online and thought it was something that we could do.  Ryan found some of the parts in our town, but we didn’t quite have all the parts we needed and would’ve had to buy a pipe threader on top of everything else. It was going to end up being a lot more work and expense.  So, we went with a simpler option of using the steel pipes along with wood braces.diy simple open closet

First, we measured the heights we wanted the poles to be.  We made the top high enough for our clothes and the bottom to fit the girls clothes.

After marking everything out, Ryan took a long board and drilled holes in it to fit the pipes for the top and bottom rack.

diy simple open closetHe did the same on the two pieces to support the other side, which he mounted on the wall. diy simple open closet

Although the simple closet is not very beautiful, it has 3 big pluses, aside from the obvious one of a functional place to hang clothes.

1. quick to install
2. cheaper than any other option
3. it doesn’t provide a new place for bugs or rodents to hide (we have enough of those as is)

What would you hate to find living in your closet?