December 22, 2011

The Eighth Day of Christmas

The best part of the holidays is definitely the food.  Well, right after giving, and charity, spending time with family, yada, yada, yada....

But back to the food.  Before we stuff our faces until we burst with sugar plums and candied yams, it makes me feel better to eat at a beautiful table. 

Yes, the Dining Room needs a lot of work, but try to ignore that and focus on our little holiday masterpiece.

I went with a gold and red motif, using a gold runner and gold chargers to break up the red table cloth.

Candles at varying heights and a sprig of evergreen from the back yard completed the table.  I also folded my napkins into little silverware pockets.  The tutorial on the internet was literally called "folding napkins for dummies." They definitely know how to flatter a girl.

And as always, I cannot take a blog photo around here with out a certain little someone jumping in front on the camera and screaming, "Cha-eeeeeeeeese!"

 But it's sort of fitting, because that little guy is really what the holidays are all about for me.  I'm going to take a few much needed days off to celebrate the season with my family.  For those of you that don't believe I have the ability to relax, I'm out to prove you wrong.  A bottle of red wine might help...

So happy holidays to you all.  I'll stop back in the New Year to fill you in on the closet door and Workout Room progress.  Cheers to you and your family!

December 20, 2011

The Seventh Day of Christmas

My little family was out late at my fun, company holiday party Monday night, so here's a little abbreviated post with our outdoor holiday decor.  I already showed you this little, free, holiday planter I made:

So I used the same "scavenge free stuff from my yard" approach to fill the flower bed by my front steps.

Ok, admittedly it took my 5 minutes and zero dollars.  I wasn't trying to win any awards.  But it was better than nothing.  

Plus, when I added a little string of white lights and an automatic on/off timer, and I arrive home every evening to this:

Which is holiday bliss.

I was a little bummed to find that we're the only home on our new culdesac that does any holiday lights outside their house.  Maybe our small little attempt at lighting this year will give our neighbors a little encouragement to try some decor of their own next year.

December 19, 2011

#180- Part 2 The Eight Day Stain Saga

Remember when I thought it would be a great idea to take the cash and build the closet doors myself?  I guess I never really thought it would be easy, but I don't think I thought it would take this long.  If you remember, first I built the door frames, and then I removed the glass panels so that I could stain them.

These guys are pretty big, two at roughly 8' tall by 3 feet wide, and two more at 8' tall by 2' wide.  Laid in a row they fill an entire stall of our garage.   I rubbed on the first coat of stain with a clean, dry rag.  In order to match the rest of the furniture in the bedroom, I used the Bath Crasher's leftover stain, which I also used on our headboard and the nightstands that I built for the room.  (Lucky for me they left a whole gallon behind!)  The first coat looked like me after a long run though- a hot, splotchy mess.

This is where things got a bit frustrating.  I have to wait 4-6 hours after applying each coat of stain to let it dry, and since I work full time everyday, that basically meant I only had time to apply one coat each day. 

You can see that coat #2 made it darker (above), but if you look up close in this photo below, it's still pretty light.

Three coats, and three days later I turned over the frames to stain the back side, and that's when I realized my big mistake. 

ahhh man.....
By staining these guys laying flat on the plastic, with nothing propping them up underneath, The extra stain on the plastic sheet got under my frame and stained the underside in a splotchy mess.

My name is Erin and I'm a big dummy.

So before I could stain this side, I had to sand down the bottom of all four of my frames so that I could get an even stain coat.  More wasted time ensued...

And on day seven, after 3 coats on the front, and 3 coats on the back, I flipped them all back over to the front.

And I was ticked. 

Because as much as I wanted to move on to the poly, I knew I would kick myself if I didn't take the time to make them darker and add just one more coat of stain.  My impatient side and Type A perfectionist side litterally had a mini bi-polar battle within my head, before I finally gave in and added one more coat.  It's just one more day, and I'll regret it forever if I didn't.

The extra coat was totally worth it.  It's hard to tell, but the frame in the front has the forth coat on it, and the back two don't.  If you don't see it, lie to me.  Please.

Then it was finally time for poly.  I used this technique to apply the oil based poly, just like on our nightstands.  This is where I was doing a little happy jig in the garage, because the poly takes the flat, matte looking finish of the stain, and brightens up all the color and really brings out the wood grain.

Isn't she purdy?

Poly on the left, just stain on the right.
Unfortunately, because of the cold temperatures out in my garage, the poly is taking a long time to dry.  A really long time.  In fact, I'm a bit concerned... but I'm trying not to freak out just yet.

It's going to be a busy week with last minute holiday shopping and planning, so I'm not sure how much time I'll have to work on these bad guys and blog about them, but you know I'll share all the details with you as soon as I can.  Stay tuned...

December 16, 2011

#146- Pump up the Jam

Quick reminder- one of the key selling points for us on this house was the ability to turn the lower level bedroom into a Workout Room.  While it sat as an embarassing storage dump for our first 6 months, we recently cleared the room, painted the walls, and removed all the trim and carpeting.  

So it was on to #146 on The List- Replacing the Flooring.  The carpet had to go because it had an unbeatable animal urine smell, but instead of putting new carpet back in, we decided to use something that would fit more with the room's use.

We found this foam flooring at*, and even though it might not be the best choice for future home buyers, it's perfect for how we want to use this room right now.  We figured that in the future if we ever go to sell (Lord help us...) that we could just replace this one room with carpeting and stage it as a bedroom. 

The one thing that was important to us is that this flooring fit the room perfectly, to make it look like it fit the space.  We started by laying a pattern the length and width of the room so that we could figure out the best plan to arrange the tiles and not leave any too skinny scraps on one side or another. 

Unlike actual tiles though, this flooring was super easy just to snap in.  After a bunch of research, we found you can lay them directly on top of your concrete subfloor.

The tiles came with 2 straight edges per tile to cover up the zipper grooves on any straight edge sides.  The only tricky part was cutting around the groves for the corners, door jams and floor vents.  Hubs declared that this part was my job, while he plopped in the full tiles.  Why do I always draw the short straw?

 Here I am showing off my ingenious method (ifIdosaysomyself...) of first cutting a piece of paper to fit the corner exactly, and then tracing the paper onto the tile.  This works when laying real tile as well, and can save dozens of frustrating wet saw cuts.

Like a glove...

And here she blows once we had all the tiles in.  Although it was the end of the night, and I didn't even bother to pick up the scraps and cardboard for you all.  Sorry about that.

And yes, I do realize that the Hubs painted the trim white, but not the actual door.  His point was that this was a really nice, solid wood door, and someday we would regret it, as we could always replace the trim, but not the door.  I would argue that by the time we ever want this trim to be wood again, this 30 year old door will be even older and less energy efficient than it is now, and we'll want to replace it anyway.  Anyone care to take a side?  You all have been fantastic at moderating our DIY disputes.  If this wood door is bugging you as much as it is me (I'm getting a nervous tick), please weigh in to help my cause.  Or if you side with the Hubs, I guess you can feel free to say that too. 

P.S.- * in no way asked us to post about them, in fact they probably don't know we exist.  I just wanted to share that they are a good, cheap resource for this type of flooring. 

December 15, 2011

The Sixth Day of Christmas

In between building closet doors for our bathroom closets and gutting and remodeling the Workout Room, we've surprisingly had a little time to squeeze in a bit more holiday cheer.  (Don't worry- I'll have updates on those other projects coming up soon, it's just taking a whole lot of time to finish them up, and we don't have an abundance of free time around here this holiday season. )

So in the mean time let me remind you of our little Christmas miracle. 

Really, when I think about it, it's a miracle we even got in this house.  Last year at this time, our Bungalow was on the market for about 3 months already without a bite, and the bank had been sitting on our offer for this big beast for 3 months with no end in site.   And it's another miracle that 8 months after move in this room has a seven gallons of paint and brand new wood floors to replace the pee-stained carpets.  (That's animal pee by the way... or at least, we're pretty sure it was...)  We are so blessed to be celebrating this first Christmas in our first home we worked so hard for, that I can't help but go a little over board with Christmas spirit.

And since even in the holidays my favorite 4 letter word is free, (unless I'm using power tools...) in addition to the hearth arrangement and the big 36" diameter wreath I made for free, I added a few additional no cost items to this room to give it a little more jingle.

Like replacing all the candles in the room with red ones that I had on hand, like this one in our lantern from Ikea.


And this one on our console table that I paired with a couple of decorative Christmas trees I picked up a few years ago at an after holiday sale.  

I also took the time to frame a few of our Santa pictures from year's past to remind us of how much our cute little nugget has grown.  All the photos I had were 4x6s, but I happened to have a stash of 5x7 frames that we used as table markers at our wedding. (Note: Free) So I quickly whipped up a bunch of mats.

I had some red card stock left over in the junk drawer, so I first cut it to 5x7.

Then I pulled the glass out of a 3.5x5 frame and used it as a guide to cut along with an Exacto knife.


Filling my glass bowl with $2 worth of dollar store ornaments from last year was another quick way to add some sparkle.  As you can see, my little paper white in this room is not growing nearly as fast as it's testosterone filled bro up in the Dining Room.

Adding these frames throughout the room on the shelves bring just a little touch of holiday, and I love this little hand print tree Ry made a couple Christmases back.  Oh those little hands...

 And have I mentioned how much I love the smell and ambiance of a real tree? While we went with a more modest, and cost efficient smaller tree this year, I can't wait to chop down our very own Oswald Family tree on future Christmases to make use of those super high ceilings.

In the meantime, break out the Tom & Jerry's and the almond bark.

December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Maybe instead of worrying about killing it, I should have worried about loving it too much.  Here's hoping it doesn't eat the chandelier.

December 13, 2011

#180- Part 1- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

It's been six months, and FINALLY, I'm ready to start telling you about #181 on The List, putting closet doors on the beastly wardrobes in our Master Bedroom/Bathroom.  For those of you just joining us here's the Cliff's Notes:

Instead of using expensive, frosted tempered glass, I found these cupboard doors at Ikea in 80" tall lengths, and 24" and 15" widths.
 So I just had to build wood frames around the glass doors at the correct widths to fit my two 35.5" x 90.5", and two 25.5" x 90.5" wardrobes.

All in I needed just eight, 10' long 1x8s.  I usually don't buy such long wood boards, because they're really hard to transport and to work with in a small space.

But in this case with my 80" lengths needed, I didn't want to buy 8' lengths and waste 16" off every board.  So by buying 10' lengths, each board gave me one 80" side piece, and one top or bottom piece.

I wanted the fit around these glass doors to be really tight so that there was absolutely no gap once I put the glass in, so I took out one of the glass doors in each size and built the frame around it.  Good thing, because the 24” x 80” doors from Ikea were actually 23.75” x 79.25”.  Tricky Swedes…. very tricky.
Once I cut each of the vertical lengths, then I could just lay down the remaining piece from my 1x8x10 and use a L ruler to mark my cut line and get them the perfect length.

Once everything was cut, I used my Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes in the back of the doors.

And then used wood glue and Kreg Jig screws to attach my pieces and finish my frame for a nice, tight fit.

PS- All this building stuff was a lot more fun when it wasn't 19 degrees outside, now that I have to bundle up to work in the garage.  But I guess it's all worth it when these things are finally starting to come together after 6 months of finger crossing.

PPS- Here's the mess of old carpet and carpet pad in the garage from the Workout Room that I was standing on to get the picture.  Looks like we need to order dumpster #5 since we moved in...

This post might make it sound easy, but with 4 of these at some pretty huge lengths, and some pretty cold temperatures, it took a bit of time.  There's still a lot of work to do, sanding, wood filling, staining, polying, waxing, and the most tricky, rigging up a system to hang these bad boys. But for now, I'm celebrating, and thinking a glass of wine is in order.  Cheers!

December 12, 2011

#145- Let's Get Physical...

We're really kicking it on the Exercise Room now, here's where you last saw it, with a new coat of gray paint.

 But we still had this gross carpet.  There's nothing that can keep you off the floor and away from sit ups like carpet that smells like cat piss.

And while the Hubs can sometimes take ridiculously long home improvement breaks, once he gets something in his head, there's no stopping him.  So like the time that I came home from work and found him tearing out the carpet in the Living Room....

This time I came home from work and found the carpet completely removed from the Exercise Room. 

Efficient isn't he?  He also removed all the baseboards, and got started painting all the trim white.

For a moment, he thought maybe we should just paint the trim, and not the doors.  Bad idea Hubs.  Bad Idea.

I mean, I love you, but seriously. 

So we made quick work of that and slapped up the first coat of primer.

Now we've just to scrape all the glue off the floors and get started with the new flooring option.  Let's hope Jay stays motivated.