Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Welcome!

It's been a much slower process changing things around the house than I had anticipated. Between jobs, the kids school and activities, there doesn't seem to be the time - or money! - to fix and upgrade and work on the house.

But we are trying.

Little by little, brick by brick, it will happen.

First up for this year? A new front door.

Nothing was really wrong with our front door, if you like a flimsy door with peeling paint, no natural light and a gap between the frame and the door. Or if you like a steel framed security door with mesh that the dogs kept sticking their paws and noses through.  So we REALLY didn't like our front door.



Boring.


After much debate, we finally settled on a door from Lowe's with 1/2 frosted glass on the top. Instead of a security door, we chose a storm door with a sliding screen. No mesh on the bottom means no doggies powering their way through it. (On that note, our screen door on the back door was ran into no less than FOUR times this weekend. Two kids, one adult and one dog ran through it. We need to work on that door next!)

Before and After

Before and After

With the front door open.


But we didn't stop there! I still thought it was the teensy-bit boring still and wanted to jazz it up a little bit. So now we have:


I LOVE it!  With the change this fun, bright door brought to the house, I am motivated to do all sorts of things I have been putting off. Updo the bathroom? Let's do it! Change and paint the siding? You got it! Rip out a bathtub? No problem!!!  

Don't mind the grass. We are saving on our water bill for a few months :)



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

New Years New Motto

When we moved in two years ago, a friend gifted me her kids old fish tank. I stuck it on my bar counter top, filled it with fish....and resented looking at it ever since.

Don't get me wrong, I love having fish. And I love the tank she gave us. For Christmas this year, our dogs, Murphy and Lucy, even bought our fish, Scully, a snorkeling Santa decoration piece. We LOVE our fish.

But our 1960's kitchen already had no counter top space anyways, so this fish tank took up some valuable real estate. 

Plus, when we ate dinner at the bar, I always felt a little weird eating so close to Scully's tank. Especially if it was fish sticks.

We have a beautiful built-in leading into our hallway near the kids playroom. When we first moved in two years ago, The Hubs put an old TV in there and set it up for the kiddos. "Now they can watch shows and we can still watch what we want!" he said. I wanted to decorate it with pictures and knick-knacks, but the TV fit, so I let it go. 

They have watched TV on it exactly three time. All three of those times were when we had parties and the other TVs were used for watching football or playing music. 

This week, I took the TV down and stowed it in the hall closet. (Hopefully it will be donated soon, but one step at a time!) I moved Scully and his tank into the built-in area, cleaned off the bar completely and waited for someone to notice.

The kids came home from school. "Mom, you moved Scully's tank! I love it! Now it is like a nightlight in the hallway." said my son.  He's right. The light from Scully's tank provides a nice glow in the evening. 

I waited to hear what The Hubs thought. Would he be upset the old TV was gone?

"You moved Scully's tank," he said. "I am so glad. Now we have more room on the counter top! It looks so much better."

For two years I have wanted to move that fish tank. TWO YEARS! Why did it take me so long? First, I didn't want to upset anyone. The Hubs wanted the TV there, so why should I change what he wanted? He didn't have much of a say in most of the other decorating, so I didn't want to alter one of the only things he did do. Let's be real, though - that's really over-analyzing it! He's not that sensitive. It's more like: Me make more counter space. Me get rid of TV not using. Ok?  And it was okay. 

Second, would the kids care that Scully wasn't sitting with them at the bar? They have enjoyed talking to him while they sit and eat, or do homework. Well, now they stop in the hallway to talk to him, or hang out by his fish tank reading and watching him. He is still getting just as much love and attention as he normally did. I love watching Scully swim and hide. 

What this showed me is that I can change the way things "have always been". If, as the CEO of the household, I see a better way to do things, or a solution to a common problem, I can change it very easily. I can move the fish tank

That's my new motto this year. As I tackle the New Years resolutions like everyone else, and declutter and simplify, I also want to make our items have purpose and function. Get rid of unnecessary items and put to use items that have been neglected. I need to remember that just because we have been doing something one way doesn't mean we can't try it a different way. Instead, I will remember: I can move the fish tank. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Double Project: One for me and One for him

It all started with Jack Daniels.

Well, a Jack Daniels barrel, really.

For Father's Day last year I wanted to get The Hubs the perfect gift - something he wanted but he wouldn't buy for himself. I finally decided on a Jack Daniels barrel for his man cave. He could fix it up into whatever he wanted, and according to Pinterest, there were a lot of options.

He chose to turn it into a pub table. All he needed to finish the project would be a base to raise it to pub table height, and a glass top. After searching online, he finally decided to fashion a base together using piping, to create an industrial feel.

I would go into detail about he fashioned this base, but I have no idea. Oops.

The glass top took a little longer to find, but a few weeks later he finally found one at Pier 1 for $100.

Hours before he left to buy it, I searched online and found the exact size he needed on OfferUp for $10. Score!

It may not look like much, but I have a vision!

Even better? The perfect sized glass top was actually a coffee table and was attached to a steel framed bottom that I wanted to use for my own project. Double score!

All he had to do was drive halfway across town (Okay, so I might have thought it was in a closer city than it was and he might have driven almost 45 minutes to get it, but....whatever!) and load it up. The glass came off from the bottom part easily, and all he had to do to finish his pub table was place the glass on top and buy some bar stools. Easy and looks spectacular in his man cave!




My project was next.  I had seen how to make a pallet coffee table online and decided to tweak the picture to better fit my style. I had at first wanted to ask my neighbor to weld me the legs for the table, but it turned out that he frame on the OfferUp coffee table was exactly what I needed!

First up, I grabbed one of our pallets that I keep around just for projects like this. I looked for the one that was in the best shape. Unlike most of my other pallet projects, I wouldn't be using just the pallet wood, but the actual pallet itself. I needed the whole thing to be pretty.

I had The Hubs saw the pallet down about 3/4 of the way. This happened to be where on the underside there was a curve, and this made it even on both sides. That left me with five boards on top and gaps in between.


We took a few boards off the remaining 1/4 of the pallet, and combined with a few others we had lying around, we were able to fill in the gaps to make a complete table top.

Whoa. Talk about uneven!

You can tell from the picture, it was pretty uneven, which is not what you want when you're putting your drink on it! The Hubs grabbed his planer and began planing it down. A few minutes later and we had a relatively even top.



I grabbed the sander and went to work. I've worked with many a pallet and the worst part for me are the splinters. Since this was going to be an outdoor table, used by kids and adults alike, I wanted there to be no splinters whatsoever. If you had been around for the Great Camping Splinter Incident of 2015, you would understand. I still have trauma from the screams.

It was at this point that I decided to tried to push my luck with the frame.  On the legs was an awful particle board/fake wood veneer piece.

UG-LEE!


The first time I pressed on it, it wouldn't move, and I thought maybe I would have to texture and chalk paint it. But today I was feeling lucky and I went at it with a hammer.

Success!

After a few minutes of solid hammering, I had popped out all four ugly fake wood pieces and transformed the frame even more.



I was content to leave it as is, but The Hubs the perfectionist convinced me to add two larger wood pieces on either open end to cap off the table. In my pallets, there were two different sized slats. One size fit on the top of the table, the other fit perfectly to finish off the side ends. Don't tell The Hubs I said this, but it did look better his way. He also convinced me to stain it. Multiple times. Ugh.

I hate staining because I hate waiting the required time between coats.

The first three layers worked great with a stain that deepened the pallet wood and allowed the different colors shine through. I was actually getting into this staining, waiting and re-staining process. The fourth layer was a minor setback, though, as I grabbed the the wrong stain and turned my beautiful pallet top a shade of brownish-orange. Oops.

I wound up not being able to completely get rid of the orange top, even with repeated sandings, so I followed up with a deeper stain. It took away some of the color variety I had loved, but seeing as the orange had seeped into the grayer pieces, darker was what needed to be done.



After I was satisfied with the stain, I followed up with a few layers of tung oil to provide an extra layer of protection to the wood from spills and sun.

I was ready to finally have a finished piece and frankly, was tired of doing things the right way, so I fully intended to zip-tie the leg frames to the bottom side of the pallet piece. The Hubs knows my reputation for getting bored with projects though, so he grabbed the coffee table and secured it properly to the bottom with screws.

Here is a view of the finished coffee table in my patio sitting area. Love!!!



A table big enough for everyone to use!


I thought about cleaning up for this pic, and then thought....Nah....

Home Sweet Home!




Friday, February 19, 2016

Finished man cave....almost

It took nine months and the threat of a Super Bowl party - lots of people! lots of kids! You'll need a space just for the guys! - but we finally made it happen.

The man cave is DONE.

Go Tech!




Okay, so technically it's not actually done. The Hubs wants to refinish a sentimental piece of furniture into a TV stand with an oh-so-awesome handmade barn door closure. MUCH better than our current TV stand of - wait for it.....a huge office filing cabinet. See that up there? UG-LEE. And really just a catch-all for junk. According to Marie Kondo's tidy house rules, it needs to go. So I will get to that....eventually.

He also wants to replace the windows with a sliding garage door type window and install a bar on the outside.

So, really, it's not actually done. But it's as done as it will be until we get the kitchen and bathrooms in the house updated. Priorities. Sorry, Hubs, but a new bathtub trumps sliding door bar window.

The man cave (which we have taken to calling the family room now) is exactly what we wanted it to be! We had a few people over for Super Bowl and while most of the time was spent basking in the beautiful weather on on the patio, the last part of the night was all about relaxing in the man cave. Ahem. Family room. Sorry, I'm still getting used to the name change.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

String Art DIY

Over the toilet at a friends house is a string art picture of a deer I absolutely love.

It's a little bit funky, a little bit strange - considering it's location, hanging above a potty - and totally fun. I thought about buying the same one she had (a Target special, natch), but decided that, like most other things...I could make that.

But a deer, while fun and apropos (the Hubs is a hunter), wasn't exactly what I was envisioning. What picture did I value most? What idea or image meant the most to me - to us as a family?

Then it hit me.

Hmmm..what could I do with this??

I began with a wood plaque piece I had rescued from a garage sale for $1. At the time, I had no idea what I would do with it, just that I needed it. Six months later, I was finally putting it to use.

I was able to print a 12x12 image of my desired picture.  Can you guess what it is?

Drumroll......

I couldn't get the pic to turn but it's pretty recognizable, right?!

That's right. My Arizona home is decorated with my love of Texas. This among others.

I grabbed about 600 nails and started hammering them in around the image. Okay, okay, so it was really only 200+ nails, but it felt like a million. I winged it, hammering oh, about every 1/2 of an inch or so, and oh, maybe 1/2 inch into the wood. I wasn't really worried about getting it perfect.

You can take the girl out of Texas....


**Next time, I will use fewer nails, with a bigger space between them. Adds a little more depth to the piece.

After the hammering was completed, I grabbed some thick red string and wound it around the heart I had placed in the city that still owns mine.

Ah, Lubbock. 


Lubbock, Texas, in the panhandle of West Texas. The place that Mac Davis sang is happiness in your rear view mirror, but to me will always be the place I found my husband and my future. It's a good ol' town filled with good ol' people.


After the heart, I grabbed a deep blue string and began wrapping around the rest of the nails. There wasn't a pattern to this except that there was no pattern. I wanted to make sure each nail was wrapped at least once, and hopefully twice, but in no particular order.


Home sweet home. 
It sits on my fireplace, a reminder of my roots.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Pallet Sign

Remember all those pallets we had lying around that we didn't use for the Man Cave Wall?  I finally had The Hubs take two of them apart so I could use the boards for projects. Because I didn't have enough projects already half finished......

I decided to start with a pallet sign for Bjorn's room. For years, I have wanted a sign in his room with a particular quote, and since I knew I could make one, I had put off buying it.

Time to git 'er done.

I started with three pallet wood strips. I sanded them down by hand, trying to preserve their wood look, but still taking out all the splinters and roughness. I had to hammer down a few nails, too.

Then I grabbed my ever-faithful chalk paint (to see my first try with chalk paint, go here), this time in primitive gray, and mixed it 1:1 ratio with water. I was hoping for a whitewash finish, to see some of the wood underneath. I will have to tweak the formula a little, for it was still a little too thick for my taste. It was less a whitewashing and more of an all-out painting.

Americana Decor chalk paint. From Home Depot, I think?

I struggled as to how I would put the writing on the piece. Should I have a friend print it on her vinyl printer? Should I hand paint and wing it? I finally decided to print off the quote on my cheap-o printer for tracing. I chose a random font and text size (Times New Roman, 150 font size) and printed away.

Pretty high-tech, eh?!

Once the paint was dry (Which, seriously, took less than an hour - I LOVE chalk paint!), I taped it to the wood. I had to move it around a bit to get the spacing and centering right, and I could have used a ruler, but I don't mind imperfection. Then I took something sharp to etch the letters into the wood. I started with a pencil, but that broke from how hard I needed to press down.. I finally settled on an unclicked ballpoint pen, which worked great. With a faint outline able to be seen on the wood, I was ready to paint.



The hardest part of painting the letters was getting the paint into the nooks and crannies of the wood. It's not a smooth surface, and it took sometimes three coats of tracing in order to get all the niches filled in. But I'm very happy with my first try.

The first of three small pieces to secure along the back

Next, I cut down another piece of pallet piece into smaller pieces to attach to the back of the sign. This allows all three pieces to stay together, and gives me something to hang a wall mount onto. The most important part of this step is to find a nail that is LONG ENOUGH to go through both pieces of wood but not TOO LONG that it comes out on the front side of the sign. It needs to be secure without marring the look.

Strong words. 


When my Hubs gets home, he will hang it in Bjorn's room (And I'll add an updated wall picture then.) I am not allowed to hang things anymore. Something about when we moved the last time and he found the six silver dollar sized holes I had conveniently hidden behind our wall shelves. In my defense, it's hard to hit the exact spot right every time. Or every six times.

Oh, yes. We rock a lava lamp.

While the quote comes from A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh series, so it can be considered babyish to some, I find it applicable for a 6 year old.  Even at six, in the first grade, he struggles with peer pressure, and with academic pressure. He is caught between a little boy and a big kid. This is a reminder to him each day that he is so much more than he thinks he is, that he can do and be something bigger. It says that I believe in him. I believe in his ability to do great things and be a great person.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Olive Tree

When we were shopping around, part of the appeal of this old house were the established fruit trees in the backyard. We must have looked at this house 8 different times, and each time the kids grabbed and ate as many tangerines as they could stand.

Alongside the tangerine tree is a lemon tree, orange tree and grapefruit tree. The weeks after we moved in were spent grabbing lemons, complete with a homemade lemonade stand out front. 

There is also a tree that in winter stands huge: bare, white-boned, skeletal in the middle of the yard. I thought it was dead, and I searched for pictures of it online, trying to figure out what it was and how to remove it.  Six months later, at a July 4th celebration at our home, a friend asked if we had tried our figs yet this year.



Our skeletal tree was no longer merely branches but was sprouting elephant-ear leaves bigger than my head, and - we hadn't even noticed! - large figs ripe for the eating. We picked bowl after bowl of figs, making goat cheese and fig bruschetta. Eating them raw. 

I searched for homemade fig newton recipes only to find that the window for figs had passed. The early bird songbirds weren't there to wish us good morning each day. They were eating every last one of the figs from the tree. Next year I'll be ready sooner. 

It was a few weeks ago that we remembered our realtor had mentioned the huge tree in the front yard was an olive tree. We joked about making our own olive oil, and picking olives. Turns out, we weren't that far off. The tree was ripe with huge green olives ready for picking.

But not ready for eating. Just ask The Hubs. Apparently, they are incredibly bitter fresh off the tree. 

We watched a few YouTube videos (which is how we do all our DIY stuff around here) and discovered that making your own olives is a long and arduous process. Soaking for three months, changing out the water they soak in, then canning.......Boo.

Then we stumbled across a video that cur the soaking time to EIGHT DAYS. And the preserving process to three months. It didn't get my olives done for my Sunday Bloody Mary, but it would have to do.

First we picked as many olives as we could. We shook the tree. Put the kids on our shoulders. Climbed - or tried to climb - the tree. We grabbed the orange picker tool to shake out as many as we could. Dozens of olives were ready. Huge ones, small ones, medium ones. After gathering them, we soaked them in two bowls, changing the water 1-2 times a day. This was to draw out some of the natural bitterness.



Next, we went to can. 

The nice part about canning olives is that you don't have to do the whole preserving and canning process. You really just put them in a jar and let them sit. No boiling the lids on, none of the stuff that makes canning jam so complicated.



We gathered all the jars I had collected the last few months and placed olives in them. (Oh yeah, we did put a lemon at the bottom of each jar. Not sure why, but it was in the video we watched, so why not?) After putting in olives about 2/3 of the way or more in each jar, we poured in our water mixture, which was basically 1/2 cup of pickling salt mixed with a quart of water. A drizzle of olive oil covered that.

Then we got creative. In a few of the jars, we left the olives plain, just left them at that. But we added fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme) and jalepenos to the others.

Now we wait. And wait. And wait. For three months they will soak in their juices, just in time to be opened for a Christmas relish tray and Bloody Mary. Life is good at this old house. I'm also saving a few olive branches. Just in case I ever need to extend one.