Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Decorating Pumpkins

Well you can't do Halloween without posting about pumpkins.  Last week we took the annual trip to the farm to pick out some orange hued beauties (you see pics here).  
We have 2 biggish ones for carving but a few smaller ones for decorating in other ways.  Sarah's a big fan of painting, so she got her paint on this afternoon.  We used some acrylic paints we already had from previous pumpkin paint-a-thons.
She went for pink & purple.  I'm not surprised.
I started out with a full black paint job on the pumpkin with acrylic paint.  I wanted it to be totally dry so I left it on the back porch overnight.   I debated whether I wanted to do a Mod Podge design, but in the end I went with a simple silver design drawn with a silver Sharpie marker (LOVE THOSE!)
I really like painting pumpkins.  It's really a nice little project for kids to join in on.  No worries about knives or candles like carving, plus you can incorporate COLOR!
In an unusual turn of events, we spent the weekend prepping for a major storm, and while thankfully we were spared the worst of what Sandy delivered here in the northeast, I ended up postponing a few projects I had hoped to make progress on.  I guess there's always next weekend!


Friday, October 26, 2012

So what to do if you lose power for a few days...

As I sit here there's a powerful storm churning out in the Atlantic Ocean.  And for the past 2 days I've been hearing all about it from the weather guys who love to hype up a weather event.  This time around it's really starting to sound like being in a mid-Atlantic state ha put us in the path of what they're calling the frankenstorm, and while we aren't likely to get major damage or flooding at our house, there's a good chance we might lose power for a while.  If that happens I'll probably freak out a bit because I'm pretty plugged in most of the time, but we'll survive.

Here's my contingency plan for how to beat the boredom -

Batteries & flashlights.  Or a lantern!  We actually got this great LCD lantern thing from my parents at Christmas last year.  It has 4 mini-lanterns that come apart so you can wander off to the bathroom to with a nice light.  A lantern really fills up a room with light better than a directed flashlight does.  And face it, when it gets dark at 6:45 PM, I'm really not ready to just go to bed.

Board Games!  Scrabble, Monopoly, Boggle or old fashioned card games are great for the adults.  Memory, Candyland, Old Maid, and Go Fish are good for the little ones. 

Keep electronic devices charged.  OK, so that's not quite "roughing it", but face it, when your books are on a Kindle, you have games on an iPad, and your only means of communication is a cell phone, it would be a good idea to do what you can to have those things available to you.  Bonus points for a portable DVD player.

Decluttering - after spending 2 days in my grandparents house in June going through closets, drawers, and attics, I know that electricity is a "nice to have" feature of decluttering rather than a necessity.  A lantern and trash bags are the only essentials!

Crafts!  Make sure you stock up on crayons, paper, markers, coloring books, scissors or anything you frequently use for crafting at home for either you or the kids.  Don't count on a glue gun as the power may go out.  I also stock up on new coloring books to break out on rainy days.

Alright folks, that's it for tonight.  I've been working on my indoor prep, tomorrow is outdoor prep - gutters, yard cleanup, un-decorating (no need for Halloween decorations to become projectiles!).  Hopefully this whole shebang amounts to not much more than a few rainy days!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Patch 2012

What do you do in mid October on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon?  YOU GO TO THE FARM!  
Last weekend we took our annual trip over to a local farm & orchard to do farmy things.  

We took our first-ever hayride.  

The kids played at a HUGE playground.  

We saw animals (mostly chickens).  We had a picnic and funnel cake. And, of course, we picked out pumpkins to carve for Halloween!

Beautiful day and tons of fun!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Please Stand By...

Last Friday afternoon I was sitting here and minding my own business when Chris-the-Destroyer peered around the screen of the laptop and smiled.  Then he proceeded to spit a full mouthful of juice straight into the keyboard.


Honestly I was at a loss.  So he spent the next 15 minutes in time out.  He didn't like it, but I don't really think he understands that it was a big deal.  

I turned the computer off and left it keyboard down on a towel to dry out.  Jason popped off a bunch of keys to clean it and was able to hook up an external drive to back up all the photos & important stuff.  

Every time the computer was turned on it did all kinds of weird beeping or scrolling but that seems to have stopped.  And for a while half the keys didn't work but things seem to be improving and I have high hopes of this thing being fully functional sooner or later.  We did spend a few days talking over a plan to look for something new!   I'm not sure what the precise timeline will be, but I think soon I'll be blogging from a shiny new laptop.

So that's all, really.  Just wanted to pop on and say hi and explain where I've been.   I hope to have some "real" stuff for you all this week.

Parenting PSA - beware smiling toddlers with sippy cups


Monday, October 15, 2012

Thoughts - 10/15

I love the DIY stuff, the projects and the crafts, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.  There are a million reasons why - but I'll talk about what's been going on here lately.

#1- we had a MAJOR push on Sarah's room over the last month or so.  She's moved in (sorta) and we're feeling a little burned out.  We just wanted a smidge of relaxation on a weekend instead of working 'til the wee hours and missing a few football games on TV.  We still have a ton of projects to do which will make it to the blog, but those are on hiatus for a week or so.

#2 - Just this past weekend I spent most of Saturday outside on a project (which WILL be shared), but we're only halfway done and the interesting/exciting parts haven't happened yet, so no post on that.  It's good and we will be VERY glad to have it all done.  It's been exhausting work though, so we took Sunday off.  Hint:  It's dog related.

#3 - I'm short on ideas in the craft department.  Usually when I get burned out on DIYing - like the thought of painting or sanding something just is so unappealing - it's time to bust out the Mod Podge, craft paper, or sewing machine.  But I'm plum out of ideas - oh and I still haven't replaced that ever-so-important piece of the sewing machine.  I don't expect this dry spell to last long, though.

#4 - Kids.  There are times when we'd love to spend every waking hour just banging out projects, but the kids just won't have it.  They want to go to the park, play on the swing-set, hit up the firehouse open-house or church fair, and watch family movies.  We love indulging them on this stuff, but the time spent does come out of our DIY time.   It's a balancing act - we love the results of our hard work but we need to be mommy & daddy too.  

Not that I'm making excuses, just tryin' to keep it real here in blogland.

What are the thing that get in YOUR way?  Kids?  Work?  Flu?  Or just a little lazy??


Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Blast from the Past - Powder Room

Let's be kind and say the "before" look of our powder room was "vintage".

Yep, there was a vanity with a yellow basin and a matching yellow toilet, there was a mirror with 2 sconces built-in, and a louvered window.  Wallpaper and white-ish paneling finished up the look.  I honestly don't remember what the floor looked like, but I think it was vinyl.  Whatever it was, it had to go.

So here's how the timeline went - we bought the house in January 2007 and before we moved in the room was gutted to studs figuring that it was a small bathroom and the re-do would be quick and cheap-ish.  The sad truth is that the room remained gutted and used for storage (which was very handy, actually) until spring of 2011.  It's not that we weren't busy during that time - there were many other projects that happened, but I'll  be honest and say that we sat on this one longer than necessary.

Step one was drywall and we decided to go with bead board wainscoting.  With the small scale of the bathroom we thought that breaking up the wall would make it more comfortable since the wall is up in your face when you're, um....going.

For the walls I went with a color called "Lemon Meringue" and we used "Linen White" for the trim & ceiling.

I picked out a cobalt blue pool tile for the floor - why pool tile?  Because I liked it.  The sales woman at the tile store was very nervous about the choice and tried to talk me out of it.  She said it might be slippery or it might not hold up.  So far so good!

I'll chime in on Jason's behalf here - he's the tile guy at our house and the installation in this room was fast.  Like over a weekend and BAM DONE!

The faucet was a Home Depot find - and I wanted a shiny finish to contrast with the more casual/country-ish bead board.  The mirror is from Ikea, and I like how it's shiny and round - again a contrast with the casual/country feel of the bead board.

What's left in here?  I'd love a little cabinet or covered basket to store extra TP.   I think the room needs a bit of artwork.  And the curtain needs to be sewn properly.

Other than that it's done and we really enjoy a bright clean and fresh space.


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - Update 10/2

Wow - so it's been a while since I gave an update on the bedroom re-do.  And there's a lot to update on:

  • Baseboards: done
  • Door casing: done
  • Closet: nearly done (just a shelf is left to put up - I'll do a post on it when it's totally done)
  • Shades: done
  • Ceiling paint: done

We're so close to some sort of final reveal I can taste it!  So now it's time to shift from DIY home improvement to more decor related stuff.

Let's talk flooring for a minute.  The first floor of our house has great hardwood floors.  We put them in before we moved in 5.5 years ago.  We like to cover the floors to protect them and to give a soft feel underfoot.  It also dampens sound.  For Sarah's bedroom we wanted a soft, plush feeling carpet in a neutral color.  The best option for us was to go with a carpet remnant - inexpensive, neutral, and soft.

Remnants are available at many places including big box stores like Hope Depot.  I decided to check out a local carpet retailer and by calling ahead I was able to confirm that they did have remnants in our desired size (8'x10') and many with bound edges.  The bound edges were important to me because it really gives the rug a more finished look.  So after Kindergarten pickup the kids and I went in to see what they had.  And there were tons!  Immediately I was able to rule out lime green, bright orange, and leopard print.
We decided against white because while it would be gorgeous, it would only be white for about 20 minutes before dirty kid and/or beagle feet made their mark.  The two best fits were beige or gray.  Both options were textured.  I decided not to bring one home on Friday because I wanted Jason's opinion and because I needed him to carry it :)

We came back on Saturday and decided on the gray, but unfortunately we couldn't get a pad until Monday.  It's a bit of a delay in our plans as we were hoping to get Sarah moved in this weekend.  We rolled out the rug to let it settle and unwrinkle a bit.

Here's a quick reminder of how things started out:

And here's the closet view with the rug laid out!

I think it looks great - and I think Sarah likes it too.  She actually spent some time playing back there on the floor.  Clean, soft, and dirt-hiding.  Just right.

Coming soon - FURNITURE!

(Kinda scary looking, right?)

Here are links to some other big-girl-bedroom posts:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Building a Mini-Patio and a Surprise

Way back in the spring I hatched a plan to solve a little problem in our yard.  We have our hose on a reel by the back porch and whenever the hose was used, we'd end up with a mud puddle right next to the house.  The problem got worse during the summers when we'd also get a ton of nasty weeds along with the mud.  Early this summer I had the idea to build a little mini-patio right by the hose for the reel to hang out on.  It would eliminate the weeds and the puddle.  Unfortunately, due to my own procrastination, the project remained undone.  Until last weekend!

I started out by raking out all the weeds that were in the area I wanted to work on.  It was actually pretty easy since the ground is always so wet there.  Using the rake, I tried to even out the ground as best I could and tamped it down a bit.  There was a low spot I filled in with a bit of sandbox sand.

Then I cut a piece of landscape fabric about the size I needed and tacked it down with the included stakes.

For pavers/bricks, I just used some we had on hand.  Oddly enough we had a bunch of bricks buried in the back yard.

And this is where the surprise comes in: I had thought that there was maybe a little step-out from the garage and a few beds that were bordered by bricks, but as I started pulling up the bricks, I found that there was a whole patio - probably 4 x 6 feet.

I completely uncovered it and hosed it off.  It's not very pretty or in good shape (there's a definite wave to it), but I figure, better to have it out in the open than having weeds growing over it.  

Back to the new patio - I grabbed a few bricks from the edges of the "hidden" patio to create the new one. I used the hose to rinse off any dirt and moss.  And using a basket weave pattern, I laid out a square.

Now once I had all the bricks, it only took about 15 minutes to lay it all out.  I tried to level/even out the bricks once they were in place.  And after I had things set, I used a few red bricks to make sort of a border.  Then I trimmed back excess landscape fabric and I was DONE!

A few things to note:  This is not the right way to build a patio.  Nope, the right way involves a lot more digging, tamping, creating a solid foundation with crushed stone/gravel before you lay any pavers.  This little area doesn't have to stand the test of time (we have plans for this area, maybe), so I was just hoping to reduce the mud puddles we deal with on a regular basis.

So that's it!

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Big 6th Birthday Round-Up

I figured that with all my bellyaching about not having enough time to post or get projects done it might be a good chance to share a bit of what's been going on here.  It's Birthday season - my big girl and her dad have back to back birthdays!

You might think that after 6 years of this, that I'd have it down, but producing two birthdays at once seems to  get the better of me every time.  This year we were also trying to reach a few milestones on Sarah's bedroom redo (that will be addressed in another post soon).  And on top of that, I was selling a bunch of outgrown clothes and toys at a local consignment sale, so there was all that prep-work to do.  And because of all these pitiful excuses, Jason got a bit short-changed on his b-day gifts.

So since Sarah is 6, birthdays are a pretty big deal.

We started with having a few neighborhood buddies over for a little cookie decorating on the actual day (a Thursday).  We didn't really do presents that day or anything because we were planning a family get-together on Sunday.  The kids had fun and made a mess.

Sunday came and we had my parents and brother over for some lunch.  Meatball sandwiches!  Plus cheese curls, cole slaw, chips, etc.  It was a good day for a warm lunch outside on the screen porch.  Then we did presents.

She truly loved everything - including her new bike!  Her old one was just a tiny 12" thing and this one is a whopping 18" size.  When we were putting it together, it seemed so big, but she hopped right on and was on her way.  Training wheels will come off soon, I think.

We finished off with cake.  Rainbow :)  Special request.

Mental Note - I need to take more photos.  Every day :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October!

For some reason, even though school begins in September, that "fall" feeling I love so much doesn't really kick in until October.  I know what it really is - it's the weather.

September here in southeast PA is usually pretty warm and humid.  It's really like August Part Deux.  I always hated the first few weeks of school back in the day because we had no air conditioning.  So we'd be sitting through classes when it was like 85* indoors and sweating our bums off.   And then sooner or later the weather shifts into Fall mode. Clear sunny skies, pleasant, and then BAM the leaves change and that's when you start seeing pumpkins and mums popping up on front porches to take the place of geraniums and flags.  Yep, I do love seasonal decor.

So here's a few things we'll be doing around here in the next 31 days:

Trip to the pumpkin patch (we do this yearly)
A few crafts (probably)
And costumes!  I will probably NOT be handmaking costumes.  I don't think I have it in me to create a Velma costume.

And of course we'll be chugging along with our other projects - primarily Sarah's bedroom.  Almost there!!


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