Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up - 10 Most Popular Posts!

I like having Christmas behind me.  Not that I don't love the day, but sometimes it seems like such a production that I hardly get to relax and enjoy it.  Maybe that means I've become an adult and maybe it means that I'm a procrastinator and I was finishing up someone's Christmas stocking on the afternoon of the 24th.  Either way I do enjoy that last week of the year when we have no plans or obligations.  No school or work.  It's a good time to think about what we've done over the whole year.
Here's a rundown of the most visited posts of the last 12 months!

1.  Lotion Bottle Cellphone Holder!

This one was a first for me - first Pinterest project, first ModPodge project...

2.  Improved Kitchen Storage!

A quick & dirty fix for a most annoying problem - storage of cookie sheets and trays!

3.  Finally!  A Lamp Refurb!!!

This was a most delayed project - and I was so glad to have it done.  

4.  Check out my Can!!

This was a super easy project that I'm sure I'll be repeating.  Seriously, there's something very satisfying about watching glue dry.

5.  It's Curtains for You (or me actually)!!

A post where I confess to having no pretty window treatments in my bedroom after living here for 5 years.

6.  Getting my Mod Podge on!

I still sorta miss this shirt...

7.  Things are looking UP!

I think this should probably be considered phase 1 of the big-girl-bedroom redo... 

8.  Snowflake Ornament

This was seriously fun.  I may do another ornament next year.  Or I may just post the second one I did already ;)

9.  Halloween Felt Board

The kids really enjoyed it, but it didn't last... Mr. Destruction had it ripped off the wall within 2 days.  Next time I will figure out a more secure way to attach it.

10.  Make It BLUE!

A recent post about repainting the dining room.

So that's it!  The top 10 most popular posts of 2012.  I'm already excited about 2013 :)


Monday, December 24, 2012

Beagle Shaming #2

This would be a much more interesting post had I thought to take a photo of the damage, but as it is, I'll just tell you all about it.
I will preface the whole story by saying that the dog is fine.  No damage, no yelping, nothing.
A few weeks back we put a few lights outside the house.  Just a string of white icicle lights across the front of the roof line and some white and colored lights in the shrubs next to the front porch.  We also have a sock monkey inflatable.  The whole thing runs on a timer - set to come on around 4:30 PM and turn off right around midnight.  
Jason noticed on Friday that the lights hadn't come on.  A quick investigation uncovered the problem - the dog had chewed through the heavy duty cable that ran from the timer on the screen porch around the house to the front where the lights were.  It was a miracle that she hadn't killed herself in the process.

So no lights on Friday.  On Saturday afternoon Jason went out in search of a new cable.  Thankfully there was ONE left at the store.  We also decided that we had better not take our chances that she'd leave it alone this time (because nothing would ruin Christmas faster than a dead beagle in the driveway, am I right?), so Jason picked up some clips and masonry anchors/screws to attach the wire to the house.  We figured that it needs to be about 3 feet off the ground to keep it out of her reach.  

It took about 45 minutes for Jason to rig it all up and we were pleased to have solved the problem.  Until about 4:45 PM when it got dark out and the lights didn't come on.  Further investigation uncovered another problem.  The outlet on the porch was defective.  Somehow chewing through the wire caused it to short out or something.  Of course we didn't have a spare GFI outlet in the house, so Jason had to head to the hardware store AGAIN for a new outlet.

Thankfully it only took another ten minutes to get that in place and BAM the lights came on and all was well.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Make it BLUE!

I mentioned this a while ago (read about it here), but sometimes home improvements happen because a repair is needed rather than an upgrade.  It was sometime earlier this fall that Jason leaned over a baby gate and used the wall for support.  Sadly the wall just wasn't up to the challenge and we were left with a wall to repair.  There's a whole long story about termite damage, but I'll say that it's amazing the wall lasted as long as it did.
To repair the wall, the first thing we did was to excavate a bit.  Because the wall busted due to termites, we knew we should see how far the damage went.  Little by little, Jason chipped away at the crust of plaster until we had a hole that was about 3 feet tall and probably a foot and a half wide.  It was a HUGE mess.

Jason cut a piece of drywall and screwed it in place.  He used mesh tape to seal the seams with the existing plaster walls and then started in with a first layer of joint compound.  

Now one thing to notice is that the plaster & backer board walls are a lot thicker than the drywall, so a lot of joint compound was needed to make the patch flush with the wall. A.  Lot. The first few courses of compound took a few days to dry fully.  It was ok though.  He did one after work, then one a few days later.  It's not a good way to go if you're in a huge hurry, but by investing 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there, he could get it done.
The patch was officially complete midweek last week!  YES! 

The finishing touch for a patched wall is generally to prime & paint the patched section.  We were out of the green paint, and really I was over the color so I picked out a new one and sent Jason to Home Depot.  Here's a progress shot after I did some cutting in -- 

I don't know if I'm a very slow painter, but it took me about 4 hours to cut & roll out the whole room.   At the end of the day I was sore, tired, but very satisfied with the color and how it looked.   (the color is Basin Blue - Finneran & Haley).  When the color was being rolled on, Jason kept saying it was purple.  It isn't purple.  It's grayish-blue.

Yes, the curtain needs to be re-hemmed.

So there we have it - this marks the 3rd color we've used in this room since moving in way back in 2007.  
How often do you change paint colors?  
Do you agonize over the choice or do you just pick something and go with it?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snowflake Ornament - Christmas Craft

Woot woot!  I got to do something crafty again!  After quite a long time where I was busy with school stuff, I finally got to shift gears this week back to some holiday related stuff and, of course, crafts!
I signed up for an ornament exchange about a month ago, and I'm super excited to have finished this up and pack it up for mailing!  By the time the post is up, the ornament will be in the mail on it's way to it's recipient!  And I figured, if I'm making one to send, why don't I make another one for here?  
  • Wood snowflakes - various sizes 
  • White paint (already had this)
  • Wire 
  • Beads
  • Glitter
  • Sequins (optional - I had some snowflake ones)
  • Glue/ModPodge
  • Drill with a tiny drill bit
  • Paintbrush
  • Needle-nose pliers

So here's how I did it!  
  • Paint the snowflakes on all sides & the edges, letting it dry after each side
  • Mod Podge both sides and add glitter, letting it dry after each side

  • Drill holes in the center of each shape, and one at the tip of a point on the big guy

  • String one bead on to a length of wire and twist it so that it's secure - this is the stopper!

  • String up the whole ornament in this order:
small snowflake
medium snowflake
big snowflake
medium snowflake
small snowflake

  • At this point you're ready to finish it, so string on the last bead, and keeping the wire as tight as possible, wrap it around the bead like you did for the first one and secure it

  • Cut off excess wire
  • Use another length of wire (and beads if you want) to create a loop for hanging, and you're done!

Ready for the tree!


Linked Up


Beagle Shaming #1

I'll be honest and say that I certainly hope that this won't be a long series of beagle shaming posts.  I fear it will be. *sigh*


Monday, December 3, 2012

OMG A Craft?

That's right! A Craft!!!

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon!

Ok, enough of the vague statements.  I'm not all about mystery.  I am participating in a handmade Christmas ornament exchange!  It was organized by the folks at Creative Headquarters (blogs like Chase the Star, Becoming Martha, Create Craft Love and Wait Til Your Father Gets Home).  The exchange uses an online service called Elfster to assign everyone a recipient and we have until WEDNESDAY this week to get the ornament into the mail.  

I'm not going to say who I'm ornamenting for, but I'll say I hope she likes snowflakes & sparkles. 

I'm currently about 1/4 finished with the craft, but should have it wrapped up tomorrow sometime.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I haven't done anything crafty in quite a while and I'm glad to be back at it!

Hopefully there will be a post by the weekend on this thing, so stay tuned!  


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Unplanned Projects.

Thanksgiving is over.  Black Friday has come and gone.  Now is the time when we should be decorating for the upcoming holiday season!  I love Christmas.  If I didn't have a destructive toddler, I'd decorate Thanksgiving weekend and leave it all up until a week into January.  That's not happening.  I'm really not sure I could handle all the "don't touch that" and "NOOOOOO!" comments that would come along with it.  So we'll decorate little by little and may not put everything up. My sanity is worth more to me than having a picture perfect Christmas. 
I still have a ton to do this holiday season.  Shopping, baking, crafting, etc.  One thing I hadn't planned on was a wall rebuild in the dining room. 

Yes, that's right.  Here we are, 4 weeks before Christmas and we have this:
A little backstory here...

When we purchased this home in 2007, the home inspection indicated termite damage.  And there was a lot of termite damage.  Termites eat from the ground up, and they apparently LOVE the fiber board that's behind the plaster in the walls.  We replaced the interior front wall of the house from the dining room all the way past the front door and under the window in the living room.  We reinforced the floor joists.  We tore out window trim.  It was a mess.  And there was a hole in the floor - the hardwood floor.  Like you could see into the basement if you peeled the carpet back.  And we still bought this place.  

Anyway, it was about 3 weeks ago that Jason put his hand on the wall to steady himself when bending over to pick something up off the floor and his hand went through.  Turns out this wall has termite damage too.  Yuck!  So basically the hole in the wall was evidence of a problem we still had to take care of.  And so now here we are, just a few weeks away from Christmas and we're repairing a hole in the wall, and I guess we'll paint the place too!

I hope to have a final reveal of this in 2 weeks!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bad Blogger

I've been a bad blogger.  I haven't been doing.  I haven't been writing.  I have been feeling sort of aimless with respect to blog stuff for the last few weeks and the blog is really really showing it.  As is my house.  

We have tons of projects that need doing.  I should have painted dressers by now.  I ought to have removed a ton of wallpaper.  I should have re-orged my closet & taken a carload to goodwill.  And why haven't I??   I'm not sure.  If I figure it out, I'll let you know. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas in my Heart

I'm sure you've heard it before.  For years and years people have been complaining about Christmas Creep.  It's the way stores start putting out Christmas trees, snowflakes and holiday decor before the Jack-o-lanterns of Halloween have even made their debut on your front porch.  And every year it seems to sneak earlier and earlier in the fall.  This year was no different. 

I happened to be in Target on Halloween morning and saw employees consolidating the Halloween stuff and setting up the first of the holiday displays.  Even before this (I think it was the last weekend in September), I was wandering through Kohl's and there were a few trees up with some holiday music playing.  And I was totally ok with it.  Truly.  I think I even smiled.

I don't mind a bit of creep.  Being a busy parent and student, I don't mind the reminders earlier in the fall that the holidays are coming.  I was able to start thinking gifts...and buying a few items.  So not only do I reduce the stress of waiting until December 1, I spread can spread my holiday spending over a few months.

America, in general, must be embracing the creep.  If stores didn't notice an improvement in their sales coinciding with the decking of halls, they wouldn't do it.  So it's working and ti will continue.  Basically, it's futile to let the creep bug you because it's not going to stop.  If you're seriously anti-creep, maybe it would be healthiest for you to avoid retail shopping for November.

Furthermore, I think the creep is a good thing.  I've noticed that early holiday time (say the first week of December) folks are pretty happy.  Plenty of "Happy Holidays" flying around in stores from cashiers and even other shoppers.  Is that really such a bad thing to start that early?  Wait too long, though and the grumpy shoppers are out and about tryign to make sure they get the thing they desperately want to give their mother in law.  Nobody likes that. 

Personally, I try to keep my spirits high.  Remember all the cheesy movies where people are happy, I want to be like them.  I think about the songs and I sing them in the car.  I had to google this to be sure of the wording, but it was Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol who said to the final spirit who visited him on Christmas Eve:

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

I will try.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Don't Turn Around - a Door Knob project

Our house was built around 1955.  Sometimes with older homes, you're lucky enough to get some interesting hardware on doors and windows - I'm talking unique hinges, door knockers, and door knobs.  Unfortunately, sometimes they are just awful.  This is the case with our house.  The knobs are all an aged brass - which actually looks ok.  The bad part is that of the 9 or so doors with knobs in the house, only one or two actually functioned properly.  There rest were either sticky, totally stuck, or didn't really close.  We decided a while ago that the best course of action would be to replace the knobs one by one.
Today's project was to do the knob on Chris' room. 
This was one of the knobs that was totally stuck - it was stuck open so that the door would shut, but the little thingey wouldn't click or anything.  It was pretty useless for keeping a toddler in his bedroom for naps.

If you're lucky and your house is modern enough, you might be able to just swap out your hardware.  But if your house is older, you will need to make some changes, but don't worry, it's actually pretty easy.
Over at Home Depot's tool corral (love that place), you can find a fairly inexpensive kit that includes a drill bit and a jig of sorts. 
Here's the breakdown -
Remove the old hardware - basically a simple job requiring only a screwdriver.

Set up the jig on the door - screwing it in to keep it stable.

Carefully line up the drill bit and drill through one side.

Flip the jig (ours lets us keep it in place and just move the circular bracket).  And drill through the other side.
Now when we did this one, the two sides didn't line up perfectly and actually it worked out ok.  There's a little play with the knob set to get stuff to fit together just right.

It's pretty self explanatory to get the whole knob to fit together - there are basically 3 parts - 2 knobs and the inside locky thing (technical term).  And there's the strike plate for the door jamb.  For this door, we were able to leave the old strike in place - while it might look nicer to replace it, we kept the old one to save us some work.  The new strike plate is a bit bigger and thicker and would require us to chisel out a space for it, so if the old one works well enough, then I think it's ok to go with it.

And within about 15 minutes the whole project was DONE!  

And all the while the kids were just goofing off on the other side of the room:

It's so great to be able to totally close this door.  Now, we got a "closet door" set for this door.  It has no lock so that Chris won't be able to lock himself in his bedroom.  And we also put a knob cover on the inside so he can't sneak out, we'll have to change this once he's potty trained, but for now it's fine.

And because one good turn deserves another (get it, turn??) Jason did the doorknob on the bathroom door too!  The bathroom door had a sticky doorknob so it was easy to get a bit stuck in there, Sarah would sometimes call down for someone to come let her out.  Now it's just perfect!  YAY!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - Update 11/8

Wow, looking back, I can't believe it's been over a month since we last had an update on this space!  We have made a ton of progress, but truth be told, there's still a lot to do in here. 
I'll give a quick rundown of what we've done so far and what's left...
What's Done:
  1. Clear the room
  2. Wall repairs
  3. Rebuilding the closet
  4. Baseboards!
  5. Prime & paint
  6. New rug
  7. Closet build-out
  8. Moving in
What's Left?
  1. Curtains!
  2. Art work
  3. Play Area
  4. Bed - repairs & repaint
  5. Dresser refurb 
  6. Bookshelf paint job
  7. Hang a mirror
  8. Finish closet - needs a shelf across the whole thing
Let's take a quick peek at a few pics -

 The closet will get a curtain and a shelf.  I'd love to get some new bins/baskets for the closet eventually.  And a basket or something for the bottom of the closet for shoes.
We need to get her bed back in the room and put up curtains.  And I'd LOVE to figure out something to do with all the stuffed animals.  I think we really just need to thin the herd a bit.
These dressers need some love as does the bookshelf.  And I think we'll do a gallery wall here or maybe find a large-scale wall decal.

There's still a ton to do, and it's seriously cluttered.  I know that I want this room to be "magazine gorgeous" in the end, but I need to remember that it's a room for a Kindergartener and it will definitely reflect her tastes and sense of style (her style being general chaos).

Well, that's pretty much it!  I'm looking forward to sharing the rest of the changes to this room as soon as they happen!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween Wrap Up & Holiday Outlook

I did have a clever post title up there, but it felt a bit familiar.  I did a quick check and yeah, I used it last year - check out my post on last year's Downhill to the Holidays
It's that time again.  Time to pack up the pumpkins, trick-or-treat baskets, skeletons and ghosts.   And time to start thinking about Christmas. 
As I said last year, Thanksgiving may be getting the shaft, but the way I think of it, Thanksgiving is part of the Christmas season.  Christmas creep is a real thing - stores truly are trying to extend the holiday buying season earlier and earlier, and while I'm not a fan of seeing snowmen and canes in Target in September, it really doesn't bother me one bit in November.  And face it, as busy as we all are anymore, it's probably a good thing to start thinking about shopping a little sooner.  I've already got a few really great ideas!
Before we can dive headfirst into Christmas, I'd like to take a peek back at Halloween.
We had our little Halloween felt board project - this was a fun and easy project which would have been a lot more successful in the house if Chris hadn't ripped it off the wall.
 After that was the trip to the pumpkin patch - just your typical family fun sort of thing.  I highly recommend working this into your annual traditions.

 And you can't do Halloween without some pumpkin decorating - whether it's traditional carving, painting, or something else.  We did a little pumpkin painting this year.

And of course, we can't do a post wrapping up Halloween without sharing a picture of my two favorite Trick-or-Treaters!

Well, that's it for Halloween! 


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