Craft Room Re-do Re-Do

I loved the stripes in my old craft room.  But I needed more sewing space, especially with my new machine.  And the carpet was a minefield of hidden dropped pins. Also very difficult to keep clean of thread and craft crap.  At least that is what my excuse was. And since there was so much going on in the space, I was wanting some clean and bright walls while we were at it. 

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

So here is my new craft/sewing space.  Quite possibly my favorite room in the house. Because I love to be in there.  Because it super functional for my sewing/crafting wishes.  And because it is pretty to look at.

It is this clean and organized all of the time.  Insert sarcasm font.

Here is what we originally started with when we moved in.  Pink and wallpaper.

the before

And then here was the stripes and small table of the original craft room makeover.

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craft room

So let’s start with the big stuff.  The walls are painted with the leftovers from the basement- Sherwin William's Eider White.  And the floors are a bamboo hardwood. 

I had a minor freakout the night before the were installed that they were going to be too orange.  As in Honey Oak orange. I may have been seen laying out a whole section of the wood out of the box on top of the ugly honey oak ones in the kitchen. At midnight. To judge if the oranges were different.  But after they went in I love them and they are so much nicer than carpet in the space.  Just a quick sweep and they are clean.  At least the floor part.

Derek made the amazing massive sewing table modifying this plan from Ana White as well as the smaller table that pulls out to give me an L shaped workspace and so that I don’t have to constantly move up and down.  Life-changing.  Both the space on the table and the ability to swing my chair to the side for a quick cut or press.  He knows the way to my heart is building furniture and he does it so well.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

I painted the bottom of the table solid black and glazed the top with a gray paint using my tried and true method with gray acrylic paint.  It is difficult to get a good picture of the finish next to the window, but most people who come into the space think that it is stone before they run their hands over it to see it is wood.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

That was not my intention with the glaze, but I love that it turned out that way. 

I love that my machine is directly in front of the window so that during the day I can look out into the backyard.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

Let’s also pretend that I just snapped that photo and the midwest is looking that green this time of year.

Now let’s take a spin around the rest of the room.

The cutting table is the same, just spun around.  It still gives me a lot of floor space (and enough room for an air mattress when we need an additional guest bed).  I got rid of the ironing board, but added a an ironing space modifying this tutorial, making it instead with just a piece of plywood rather than an entire table. The cover is removable like a fitted sheet for washing purposes.  And when I need a really big cutting surface, I just take off the ironing board.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

My fabric scraps and works in progress are housed in the cubbies underneath.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

My bulletin board is simple…a cork board with fabric stapled around it.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

My grandmother’s sewing accessories are in shadow boxes on the wall and I recovered her sewing chair for an extra space when friends come to sew.  It is tucked into the corner.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

My design wall remained the same.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

And the Kona color card moved next to my bookshelves.

Derek made some simple forward facing bookshelves like these to hold a sampling of my craft/sewing books.  I have found seeing the covers instead of just having them stacked on a shelf reminds me to use them more-either for specific projects or just for the general inspiration of pretty pictures.  Not all of them fit, but I rotate them around with ones stored the typical way to keep things fresh.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

The roman shade is also DIY with selvedge fabric from Spoonflower.  I loosely used this tutorial and backed it with blackout lining so it can be dark in there for people to sleep if the space is needed for another guest space.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

And that print is just perfect for a sewing room.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

Also above my sewing table is my friend Lauren’s print.  I love the colors and the sentiment. 

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

Notice the seam ripper is well accessible next to my machine

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

And some more organization pics if you are into that.  I keep my fabric organized using the mini bolts method as explained here.  It has helped so much with finding what I need.  The top shelf is fabrics other than cotton.  Then my prints organized by color, with some subsections (i.e. Christmas).  And then my solids organized by color.  Don’t worry, my stash has increased a lot since I snapped these pictures.  Especially the solids.  My serger is below that.  My sewing table is so big, I also can keep it out if I am going to be using it frequently.  My precuts and patterns are on the bottom shelf.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

Non-sewing craft supplies and batting are on the opposite bookshelf.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty
Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

And rulers, ironing supplies and large amounts of fabric are on the shelves over the chair.

Craft/Sewing Room- Anything Pretty

Whew! Sorry for the picture overload, but I always love looking at where people create and how they organize.  I have learned a lot about how I want a space to work for me when I am sewing and crafting and I think this space fits the bill perfectly.   I think I named most of my sources, but let me know if you are curious about something I missed. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

I am linking up with-

TDC Before and After

Spring Break!

In the middle of some Midwest snow, we jetted off to southern California for our spring break.  The thought of taking an almost two year old  on an airplane for 4 hours gave us hives, but the call of sunshine and grandparents was too much to overcome. 

In the end, the plane ride turned into 6 hours because of the airline computers completely crashing.  And he was a champ.  Whew. 

Things Carter loved about our vacation-

1) We discovered Carter’s love of picking fruit courtesy of my in-laws citrus trees.  He may have a future as a farmer.  Who picks things one at at time and then throws it at the recipient.Spring Break 13

Spring Break 13

2) Disneyland.  Specifically rides at Disneyland that had continuously moving lines.  Such as It’s a Small World.    Spring Break 13

The teacups were also amazing…but the pain and suffering of waiting in a line that stopped and did not move for an eternity, at least in toddler minutes, was almost not worth it. 

OK the video of the joy on his face while we spun would make anything worth it.  But at that moment, there may have been threatening of us leaving.Spring Break 13

And honestly he would have been happy riding the train all.day.long.

Spring Break 13

3) The beach.  Spring Break 13

Oh the sand.  And the shells. 

Spring Break 13

And the wine. 

Spring Break 13

4)Travel Town.  Lots of trains-no further explanation needed. He takes his train riding very seriously.

Spring Break 13Spring Break 13

5) Swimming in his grandparents’ pool.  Oh the joy.

Spring Break 13

6) Meeting Big Nonna.  And spending time with family. 

Spring Break 13

That one is going on the mantel.

7)Goofing off and just playing.

Spring Break 13

Spring Break 13

Spring Break 13

Things Carter did not like about vacation:

1)IKEA. 

Spring Break 13Sigh.  His expression in this picture is deceptively pleasant.  The whining and throwing of every toy (and phone) we gave him for entertainment was not captured.  And we thought we were raising him right to respect IKEA time.

My favorite part about vacation?  The sun.  And toddler naptimes by the pool without any guilt about what I should be doing. 

I was accidentally unplugged all week by way of forgetting my phone on the bathroom counter at home and remembering it halfway to the airport. After a mini freak out, I decided it would be nice to be free of it all week. And it was.  Even though I missed posting pictures on Instagram of the fun in the sun.

We all had a great time in the sun and with family.  All of anxiety about time changes and lack of naps was for nothing as he rolled with it. Carter did get very sick right after we got home. While it was snowing and my sunburn was fading under sweaters. 

Natural consequences of licking carousel horses at Disneyland.

New Kid on the Block

Last weekend was very exciting for us.  And by us, I mean me and Carter.  After not so patiently waiting a couple of months for it to come in, my new sewing machine has arrived.  The Bernina 750 QE. (If you follow me on Instagram, pretend to be surprised)

new Bernina 750 QE

And Carter got a new box to play with.  Win win.

new Bernina 750 QE

Did I need a new sewing machine?  No.  My old Bernina was still doing great.  But it was missing a number of things that you can’t get on a mechanical machine. 

My grandmother passed away a couple of months ago and with the money from her estate we wanted to get something to remember her by.  Something that 10 years from now we wouldn’t have to try to remember what we had used the money on.  Something that when I look at it, I will think of her.  For my other grandmother, it was the grandfather grandmother clock that sits in our foyer.  But we did not need two clocks.

We kicked around a couple of ideas, but nothing was perfect.  So we did nothing.  Then Derek mentioned a sewing machine.  The one I had gushed about months before (the Bernina 750) but then promptly did not think much of because of the price and the “lack of need” for a new one.  He is awesome.

new Bernina 750 QE

It would be something that would bring me a lot of joy.  And something I will use very frequently.  Perfect.

Best husband ever.

new Bernina 750 QE

I had loved my previous Bernina and when the new 7 series came out, I knew that’s what I wanted.  There is a bit a learning curve obviously going from my old machine to the new one with all the bells and whistles.  And with a touchscreen. 

new Bernina 750 QE

It is much larger (and heavier) than my old one.  When we get to know each other a little better I will do a more thorough review of what I like and don’t like and specifically why I chose this machine.

new Bernina 750 QE

What about my old machine?  We thought about trading it in, but we decided to keep it and house it in the basement.  One of things I do not like about sewing is how solitary it can be.  Just me and my room.  Carter has limited interest of playing in there and honestly with all the pins and rotary cutters, it is not best place for him.  So my hope is to be able to do some simple piecing on old machine while he is playing in his area in the basement.  And since Derek has already won the “best husband” award, the man room will now include a sewing machine.

And my old will be the machine I travel with to sew with friends.  Which happens more often than I would have thought.

So if you need me, you know where I will be…

Nursery Reveal

We made it!  The nursery is officially complete even before he has decided to make his arrival.  It has taken a lot longer to put together than I envisioned back in January when we started this project, but considering the construction, all the DIY, our insanely busy spring and that I am the ultimate procrastinator, it is really not that surprising.

But before you scroll down to see what we put together, let’s walk down memory lane with the befores to see what we we were working with. 

What the space looked like when we moved in-

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And then what it really looked like for 2 and half years…..affectionately referred to the junk room.  Don’t know where to store something?  Throw it in there.  Need to paint some cabinets?  Scoot some crap around and have at it.

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And now here it is waiting patiently (unlike Derek and I) for it’s new occupant-

completed nursery

completed nursery

completed nurserycompleted nursery

completed nursery

Back in the beginning when we were planning the space, my first idea was an orange and aqua color scheme but no real theme.  I figured once we knew if we were having a boy or a girl we could add blues or pinks to make it a more gender specific space.  Of course, I figured a lot of DIY and sewing was also going to be in the cards.

One of the biggest projects in the room (and our first) was the window seatcompleted nurserycompleted nursery

Because of the window configuration, limited furniture was going fit on that wall anyway and I thought that an architectural feature that was also functional from a storage and seating standpoint would make the room.

After the construction and painting was going, we started to pick up random items we found that we thought we be good fits in the space.  Hmmmmm…somehow we had a lot of animal things so that is the loose theme we decided to run with.  However, I am a big believer in adding things that you love and not just because of a theme. 

completed nursery

completed nursery

Items with personal significance were also something I wanted to incorporate in the space.  We have not shared baby boy’s name with anyone (but my mother-in-law has a pool going if anyone is interested).  However, the first initial is common knowledge.  So of course I had to incorporate that.  On the gallery wall are also photos we took at the San Diego zoo during our last vacation (technically baby’s first).  After he is born, the clip art hand and footprints will we replaced with his (and yes I realize my stand-in has a disproportionate hand to the size of the foot…I was just using those to make sure I liked the idea).

But personal items don’t end with the gallery wall as I wanted things that meant something to us, but not scream “look at my name" all over the place (although I know some curious family members that were voting for that tactic).

For example, I needed some bookends and I love that this has his birth month stamped on it.

completed nursery

Or that all of those blankets were handmade for him by generous friends and family.  And that the silver scooter reminds us of Italy.

completed nursery

And that cross from the Vatican in Rome was the very first thing we ever bought for, at the time, our future baby.  completed nursery

I won’t bore everyone with the personal significance of everything in the space, but overall I tried to have at least one item with meaning on every shelf.  However, don’t get me wrong, some things are in the room because they are fun and I like how they look.  Like this…

completed nursery

I guess you could also say that DIY was a major theme in the space.  The only pieces of furniture that were store bought were the crib and the chair.  We either made or “revised” everything else.  I have already talked about most of those projects as we embarked on them but in case you missed them check out the abacus, dresser, changing table, bookshelves, stump table, pinwheel mobile, quilt and bedding

The space also had to be functional besides nice to look at.  We have never done this whole baby thing before, but from what I have heard, they can be messy.  So every single cloth surface (minus the chair that is stain protected) can be thrown in the washing machine.  Every pillow and cushion cover is removable and the although it took forever to find curtain fabric that I loved and could be thrown in the wash, I was ultimately successful.

The curtains are also not just for looks.  I made four panels that stretch all the way across for light control.

completed nursery

I am still planning on adding black out lining to the back of them for even more light control, but I decided not to sew them together as I read varying reports about the washability of black out lining.  So it is getting hemmed separately and then just clipped behind the panels.

The cushions also remove from the window seat easily to access all the storage underneath.  In addition, the neighbor kids have shown me that they make great hiding places.  Maybe we need to drill some more air holes.

completed nursery

Also every item that is hanging on the wall in baby’s reach is securely fastened to studs with screws.

completed nursery

And the ultimate storage area also went through a little makeover.

completed nursery

Lots of clothes and other baby paraphernalia waiting for him, but we still have tons of room that I know we will fill in the future.

completed nurserycompleted nursery

And finally just some more pictures of details of the space that I love…

completed nurserycompleted nursery

completed nurserypinwheel mobilecompleted nurserycompleted nursery

completed nurserycompleted nursery

completed nursery

abacus makingcompleted nursery

pinwheel mobile

So what do you think?   You can see from some of the pictures that a furry friend already likes to spend time in the space.  Although this is normal position…

completed nursery

…trying to will the stuffed animals that make noise when you squeeze them from the crib into his mouth.

Want to know where I got something?  Here is the source list for everything in the space.  Just got a little too long for a single post.

Missed the other nursery posts and want to see the DIY how-to?  Catch up with the window seat construction, abacus, dresser, changing table, bookshelves, stump table, pinwheel mobile, quilt and bedding

Stumped

Do you ever come up with an idea that you think is awesome but everyone you tell about it thinks it sounds stupid?

Yeah this was this project.  Luckily my husband loves me enough to spend a lot of time on a project which he was convinced was going to flop.  Who needs diamonds when you have DIY?

Back to the beginning…..

I wanted a side table next to the rocker in the nursery to be able to set things like drinks, burp cloths, cell phone etc.  Problem was we did not have a lot of space.

shelf DIY

I looked high and low for a small side table that would fit and not looked too cramped.  And not be breakable.

This search took awhile and I almost did a ceramic garden stool because of the correct size and shape, but it was pretty light and would be easily knocked over and shattered.  It was during this search that I came up with the idea of a stump table.

Not that it was an original idea….West Elm sells one for $200 and Mrs. Brooklyn Limestone made one herself.  So why did every time I mention it to someone did I get this reaction…”A Stump?  Really?”

Even from my husband.  But being the good sport he is, he proceeded with the project as long as he “had veto power in the end”

Yeah!

So first task….finding a stump.  Hmmmmm.  Derek called lumber yards and tree removal places but was not very successful.  (Again, he must love me since I know he got a lot of incredulous “you wanna buy a stump???!” when he made these phone calls. Hasn’t anyone seen the West Elm catalog recently?)  So far no stump.  Maybe it was not meant to be.

Then on the Friday before Easter, a tornado hit very close to my parent’s house in St. Louis.  Miraculously no one was hurt. But by close I mean the damage started 6 houses from the entrance to my parent’s subdivision.  Scary stuff.  Their house had zero damage, but  they kept telling me that I just needed to come visit because there were tons of stumps everywhere around them. 

I laughed it off because I knew that they thought the stump table was dumb and was I really going to take advantage of a natural disaster to get my table?

But then we came into town a week or two later (unrelated to the stump I swear)….and they were right… there were stumps sitting by the road everywhere, just waiting for the city to pick them up and dispose of them.

I was still a little iffy on the tornado stump.  But from my parent’s perspective it was going to be gotten rid of anyway and a stump from there would have meaning unlike a random piece of wood from a lumber yard.  Like being thankful…and making sure you head to the basement when the tornado sirens go off.

So while I was napping, Derek did a little stump recognizance to find the perfect specimen and the stump was buckled in the backseat on the way home.  Would have been weird to explain that one if we had gotten pulled over.

The stump in all it’s glory.

Stump

Now what we he did to it to make it table-like:

1.  Using a crowbar and hammer remove all the bark.  According to Derek, this step was pretty easy.

Stump

2.  If your stump is uneven or too tall, even it out the best you can with taking off slices with a chain saw.

3.  The longest part…..sand.  And then sand some more.  And when you think you are done sanding do it again.

Stump

For this project, we became the proud owners of a belt sander.  Which I was told made the sanding go so much faster than an orbital sander.  He started with a lower grit sand paper and moved up to a finer grit to make it smooth.  He sanded it while the wood was still considered “green” as it had only been cut down at this point for a couple of weeks.

4.  Add wheels for easier movement (stumps are heavy) to help level it even more.  He used washers to help achieve this.

stump

5.  Since our wood was still green, we let it then sit in the space for a couple of months to dry out with plastic underneath in case it dropped sap.  As it dried it starting to develop cracks and the grain became more apparent….yeah!

stump

6.  You could leave it the natural stump color, but I knew I wanted it darker to match the other wood in the space.  But I was not sure how long had to wait for it to dry before it would accept stain.  We were at 2 months.  Google did not give me a definite answer, so I decided to test some colors and see how it took it on the bottom.

stump

It sucked it right up, so I decided to go ahead with the stain.  Worse case scenario, it looks awful and Derek can just sand it again.  I kid.

Derek gave it one final sand with a very fine sandpaper and I stained it with MinWax Jacobean. 

And this is what we came up with-

stump

stump

I love that it is not perfect and adds a rustic element.  And it is the perfect size and height for the chair.

stump

I am going to add polyurethane to protect it in the next couple of months, but for now I think it still needs to breathe and dry before I seal it.  Since I am a wood expert and all.  In the meantime we will protect the finish something on top like a piece of glass. 

And I am happy to report that “veto power” was not needed.  Which is good since he would have wasted all of that sanding for nothing.  And we got a new belt sander out of the deal.

Baby Bookshelves

The nursery is entering the home stretch…which is good because the baby is due in about 4 weeks.  But could come at any time…but probably won’t…but could.  Which is really messing with my whole “I want to plan and write things on a calendar” personality.

Anyway there is a whole lot of DIYing to go in the space (while the sewing machine is whirring in the background.)

I knew I wanted lots of books in the nursery because you know the whole reading to your child is a good thing.  Not to mention they could be used as a decor item as evidenced in this inspiration picture.  But of course cognitive and language development trumps decor….unless you can have both of course.

Elizabeth Sullivan design

Elizabeth Sullivan

I love that entire nursery but those floor to ceiling shelves made me swoon.

Unfortunately, I knew we were not going to have the space to replicate that, but loved the forward facing idea.  And those skinny shelves would be super easy to DIY.

Rumor has it that IKEA has similar shelves that would not require you to make them yourselves.  I would not know as I have lamented mentioned before, the nearest one is 8 hours away…and not worth driving for some shelves.

Here is what we came up with-

shelf DIY

My participation in the project?  Showing Derek the picture, telling him where I wanted them and placing books.  I even let go of control enough to let him try to my favorite self-leveling paint on his own (after a quick tutorial of course).  Here is what he did:

1. Cut a 1x2, 1x3 and piece of quarter round each to 36”.


2.  Put it together.  The vertical 1x2 in attached to the horizontal 1x3.  The vertical 1x2 is nailed or screwed into the ¾” side of the 1x3.  This should leave ¾” of vertical 1x2 exposed above the 1x3.  The
exposed ¾” of the 1x2 will be used to screw the bookshelf to the wall.  The quarter round is attached to the top edge of the 1x3 to create an edge for the books to lean against.  Use finishing nails.

shelf DIY
3. To attach to the wall screw through the exposed ¾” of the 1x2 into  studs in the wall.  By making the shelf 36” long you should have at least 2 studs to screw into.


4. Prime and paint.

shelf DIY

Super easy ( I am told) and super cheap.  And I love the fact that we screwed the wood directly into the studs so that junior will be OK if he decides to use them as rock climbing wall at a later time.  Plus the fact that we can rotate books and hopefully since you can see all the covers, even more reading will happen.  At least that is what I am hoping…

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Lessons from the Garden

So I have been a bad blogger….again.  I am not going to bore everyone with details but May was probably the most stressful month for us in a long time.  Some of the stress was positive like seeing friends and family many times as a result of great baby showers.  And some of it not so positive.  But it all worked out in the end and we are ready for June and bringing the blog back to life as I have so many things to share.  Note to baby: you better stay put the next five weeks because I have a lot to catch up on.  Got it? Good.

The blog was not the only thing that was neglected….my garden was looking very…..well overgrown and unkempt.  And not planted.

I am normally the person that people are looking at funny because I am trying to buy plants before the last frost date.  And I am feeding and weeding and planting and giving all the plants tender loving care on a nightly basis.

This year I did not even step outside to look at the plants that were coming back until the end of May.  Major garden guilt.   Another thing I was sucking at this spring to add to the list.

When I finally got the nerve to wade through the weeds to see what I was working with however I was pleasantly surprised.  Here is my advanced visual representation of the state of the garden.  Green =weeds.  Very high and thick weeds.

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We had strawberries…without me doing anything.

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And roses with no pruning or feeding…

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And the beginnings of grapes and raspberries…

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A good lesson about things surviving in spite of you and a lack of control is sometimes a good thing. 

Another lesson in giving up control was that Derek planted the vegetable garden this year…while I was not home.  Gardening is not his thing at all and we agreed to scale it back this year with the upcoming arrival of the baby.  And I knew I needed his help lifting and tilling. But he surprised me with this….

IMG_3846

For a before picture, please refer to above.

Did he pick all the plants I would of?  No.  Or put them in the location determined by seasonally rotating varieties? No.  But it was weeded and composted and planted.  And done. And I learned another lesson about giving up control and things turning out OK. 

On a semi-related note of not doing things when I planned, I wanted to update you on my painted outdoor pots.  When I first posted the tutorial last year, someone wondered how they would last.

I had planned on moving them into the garage for the winter.  Really. But then the whole morning sickness thing happened and they sat outside all winter and I did nothing (see the theme of the post?) to prep them.

I think they held up incredibly well (the specks on the bottom are dirt).

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However in the interest of full disclosure we did have one crack/chip that I noticed.

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So if you are thinking or painting pots but are hesitant on their wear….don’t worry about it and you can even do nothing like me!

Has your garden taught any needed lessons this year?

I think this is my Best Idea Ever

At least that is what I told Derek as I was flipping through a CB2 catalog.

lairddeskjoechairFC10

The oversized abacus.  The perfect addition to what to put above the crib which had been stressing me out for awhile as I was very uninspired in this area for some reason.  Of course we were not going to spend $150 for the CB2 version when of course we could make our own.  I mean how easy….see any resemblance to another DIY project?

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It was meant to be, we already basically had made one in the laundry room without the beads and some hinges.

Ready for the how-to?

1.  Find 100 beads for you abacus.  I ordered mine from this website, Woodworks Ltd. They had tons of options and the beads came super fast.  I ordered 1-1/2" Round Beads, 1/2" hole.  Of course you could do a different number other than 100 if you did not want to be mathematically correct.

abacus making

2. Prime ‘em.  We used spray primer and it was quick and easy.  After one side dries, flip them and prime the other.

abacus making

3. Paint them.  I used cheap acrylic paint because….well I was being cheap and did not want to buy 10 cans of spray paint.   I may have regretted that decision as I was hand-painting the second coat on every.single.bead.    And then flipping them over.  When the baby gets older I am going to make sure he knows that his mom loves him so much that those suckers are handpainted.

abacus making

4.  Gloss them.  The acrylic paint was in flat finish so we added a glossy spray coat.

abacus making

5.  Make the frame .  We made ours thicker than the CB2 version so that it could be screwed into the wall.  That way if Junior decides he is more athletically rather than mathematically inclined, he will not be able to pull it down on himself.

Materials: 4 – 8’ 1x2; 1 – 10’ 1x3; 10 dowel rods, your choice as to size; 1 1/4” nails; 1 1/4” screws if you want to be able to take it apart.

a. For this size, cut 2 22” 1x2 pieces.

b. Clamp the 1x2 pieces together.

c. Drill holes through the middle of both 1x2 pieces every 2 inches so the holes match up exactly.

d. Nail the 1x2’s with holes as verticals with 2 33” long 1x2 boards to make the inner frame.

e. Add a second “outer frame” of 1x2 around the outside of the inner frame.  This allows the dowel rods to fit snugly in their holes and does not require gluing of the dowels.  It is important that you do not nail both ends of the outer frame on at this time.  If you nail both sides you will not have a way to get the dowels into the frame.   The long sides of the outer frame are 34 1/2” and the vertical sides of the outer frame are 22”.

f. Use the 1x3 to make a backing that will be used to screw to the wall.  You will have a slight overhang on the inside of the abacus to screw through.  Nail this to the back of the outer frame 1x2.   Long 1x3’s measure 34 1/2” and the short sides are 18 1/2”.

6. Finish the frame.  I was originally thinking of staining it, but in the end we went white.  So we used spray primer and paint. 

abacus making

7.  Install the beads.  Since we were thinking ahead and left the left side off, we just slid those babies on making sure not to miscount.  Because that would have been embarrassing.

abacus making

8. Attach the final side piece.  We decided to use screws so that it can be removed if I want to change the color of the beads for some odd reason.  Or if Junior decides to use a dowel rod as a pull up bar and it snaps.  Screws will make it easier to slide out and replace.  We filled the screw hole with one of those white caps.

abacus making

9. Hang it.  Like I mentioned before, we screwed it in directly to the studs and then filled the screw holes with the white caps.

abacus making

10.  Enjoy your functional art.  And the thought that somehow it will make the baby a mathematical genius in their sleep. abacus making

abacus making

Best part?  It was less than half the price of the CB2 version and it was customized to our colors, size, and more sturdy for screwing in the wall.    And if a nursery is not in your DIY plans, you could stain all the beads or paint them all one color to match a more adult room.

It is exciting to actually have something hanging on the wall…now I just need to get going on the mobile and those drapes.

Some Sun

We snuck off during spring break to California for some sun and family time.  Derek had a bad bout of H1N1 before we were supposed to leave that threatened our departure, but luckily he got well enough in time and I was able to leave the Lysol at home.  And the snow that fell the day we left.  Did I mention we were happy to leave?

Ahhhh San Diego…san diego trip

We were only there a short time but had lots of fun at the zoo.  And I set out on the mission of trying to snap some shots we could use in the nursery.  Now I just really need to sit down and figure out Photoshop.

san diego trip

san diego trip

san diego trip

san diego trip

san diego trip

And we ate lots of great food.  Derek’s aunt and uncle drove down to take us to a restaurant on Coronado island with great city and bay views.san diego trip

Although I have to admit not being able to drink sucks a lot more when you are on vacation.  See a cool bar that normally you would’ve liked to try?  Or when the flight attendant gives you free drinks to make up kicking you out of your prime seat.  Or…..never mind.  Just trust me.

In spite of my pregnancy induced sober status, we still have a great time.  We then took the train to L.A. to see Derek’s mom, stepdad and brother. 

best.decision.ever.

The train was so much easier than renting a car and sitting in traffic. And for the first half of the trip we were literally right on the water.  The only negative was free wine, See above why that was considered a negative.

While we were in LA we of course had to make an IKEA trip.  I was hoping to find the perfect curtain fabric for the nursery.  While I did not see exactly what I wanted, we of course did not leave empty handed.

Cushion and pillow fabric-san diego trip

A light fixture that is hopefully somehow going to fit in the closest once we figure out how to assemble it-san diego trip

And miscellaneous toys and dog butt hooks-san diego trip

Luckily we did pack an extra duffel bag for all the IKEA goodies.

We also were lucky enough to have a baby shower while we were there and see Derek’s extended family.  Sadly, my camera sat in bag throughout the evening.  I did manage to snap this one though-

san diego trip My brother-in-law cooking bacon on the patio that morning because my mother-in-law did not want the smell in house for the shower. 

Classic.

Note to self to not to leave the camera away next time.

In the Book

Next up on the Christmas gift list involved a project with zero sewing.  Which was good in the while running out of time scheme of things.

I may have mentioned that we went to Italy this summer.  And that we took tons of pictures.  But at the sake of not covering every wall with vacation photos, I needed to find another way to easily display them without becoming overwhelming.  Enter Derek’s gift….the photo book.

D's christmas present

Just like Mrs. Limestone, I used blurb.com for the book and I love how it all came out.  All professional looking (well in my humble opinion at least).

D's christmas present

Blurb has lots of options for how you want to put together the book and I decided to download their program because it gave me the most control.  I went with the upgraded paper which has a slight sheen to it….especially when you are trying to photograph it.  So in person the colors are so vivid.  Promise.

D's christmas present

Originally I thought about narrating the pictures and adding words all over the place.  But then I nixed the idea and let the pictures speak for themselves.  I could fit a whole lot more pictures that way. And it took a whole lot less time thinking of witty things to say about each picture.  Sorry honey.

D's christmas present

I tried to vary my layouts (which was super easy to do with the program).

D's christmas present

Derek loved it and now all of Italy memories are easily accessible on the side table in the living room.

So all I need to enjoy it is a glass of red wine.  But remember it was a gift for Derek of course….

Disclaimer: Blurb has no idea who I am (other than my order number) and had nothing to do with my post.  I just wanted to share how much I loved their product with all of you.  I think more photo books are in my future.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I get bored easily.

Especially when I am not busy painting a new project.

It gives me too much time to look around and want to switch something up.

Even in a perfectly good room that we remodeled less than two years ago.

I don’t think this trait is on my husband’s top ten list of things he loves about me.

It may have to do with spending money.

Or cutting into football watching time.

 

So when I started thinking about the rooms I wanted to make changes in, it happened to be the first three rooms that we completed when we moved it.  And as I disclaimer I still love them, but they all needed a little freshening up.  And to of course on a budget (see above).  The three rooms are the dining room, family room and office.  And while the office and dining room are still works in progress, the family room’s minor changes are complete.  And they are just enough to keep me happy with the space.

And I am happy to report that no football watching time was infringed on for any part of it.

The Family Room

Issue #1- Too Much Brown

  Since we bought the bookshelves, I have been trying to convince Derek to let me paint the back.  Or apply pretty fabric or decorative paper to give them some pattern and pizzazz.  Just something to break up the boring brown. 

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But that idea got vetoed.  Maybe because he knows my propensity to want to change things and anything permanent would not bode well for the solid wood bookcases.  I could day that we could just add built-ins when I get tired of them but I don’t think that would help my case.

So for two years I let it go and tried to enjoy the brown.

Then one day it hit me…..what about spray paint?  It is cheap and easily re-doable and who needs to touch the bookscases?  Why had I not thought of this brilliant idea sooner?

So I spray painted the lamps a blue gray and got new drum shades.  Then the brown tray got a coat of silver.  And I thought I would love it and it would solve of my brown problems. IMG_2947

But a couple of weeks later I am still not sure.  Maybe the blue is too shiny?  Maybe it is too much contrast with the brown bookshelves?  Maybe the lamps are too skinny?  Maybe I should just go with gray instead of blue-gray? Maybe I am just feeling fall-ish now and this is just reading a little too springy?  Maybe I way overthinking this and just need to be happy that is not brown and get over not painting the interior of the bookshelves?

Anyways….

Issue #2 It Just Doesn’t Feel Done

There is another change in the family room that I am 100% in love with….the rug.

I was a little iffy on adding an area rug over carpet.  But the space was not really unified and I wanted some more modernish touches in the room to make it flow more with the adjoining kitchen.  So I got out one of our 5x8 area rugs that we were not using and see what I thought of the idea.

It was love at first site….except the rug was way too small.

So that led us on a rug search.  It had to be big.  And cheap.  And modernish.  And good colors.  And not solid brown (see above). And not matchy with the walls.  But not too orange either. And not too busy.  Basically perfect.

We went everywhere in the city that carried rugs and came back with nothing.  It may have had something to do with how picky I was being.

Overstock had some great and cheap ones, but the colors and sizes were not matching up.  I then stumbled on Rugsdirect.com and found a couple that met all of my criteria.  And free shipping and returns. 

It was a very exciting day.

We ended up with this one.

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And I am amazed about how something so simple can complete the space.

Some friends commented that it was brilliant that the circles of the rug complemented the circular coffee table so well.

Ummmm….yeah.

I was totally thinking that when I picked it out.

Issue# 3 Throw Pillows

You also may notice we now actually have some throw pillows on the couch and chair.  There are still some more half finished in the sewing room, but we at least have some color on the sofa.

But I have a confession to make.

I asked you opinion on throw pillows a long time ago.

About whether I should use the home dec fabric I already had or go with more modern cotton prints.

And the majority of you said to stick with what I had.

Well I didn’t.

Sorry….but I did listen on your advice on the kitchen curtain color, so you can’t stay mad.

Right?

 

So what do you think?  Hopefully I am not the only one that gets the itch to change things up.   But I think I am satisfied with the space and will be able to enjoy my time hanging out in there and not thinking about what I want to change.

For now at least.

Happy Birthday?? (and some ugly pictures)

Derek’s birthday just might be cursed.

Last year the dryer busted a couple of days before.  So he was the lucky recipient of a brand new washer and dryer.  Every man’s dream.

This year he was fortunate to get something even more expensive. 

Any guesses what glamorous item it was?

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ohhhhh……

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ahhhhh…..

At least we got a cool new touch screen thermostat out of the deal (and some touch-up painting).

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So yes we have a new furnace and AC.   And I bought Derek some of his favorite candy and wine (wrapped of course) in case that beauty in the yard was not thoughtful enough…

And for anyone who has had to decide on a new system when it was 102 or minus 10 outside you have my respect.  There were so many options and so many choices that I don’t know how we could have made a decision quickly.  I think we made the right decision both financially and comfortwise (at least according to our spreadsheets)…..but who knows.

So in that thread I wanted to share before pictures that don’t have an after.  And won’t anytime soon.  Unless maybe we find a winning lottery ticket.

Why?  Because I don’t want to just show all the pretty parts of our house on the blog and pretend like the others don’t exist.  And because the master bath was next on the to-do list until it got bumped by a non-working AC.  So to look on the bright side, it’s ugliness is going to be celebrated.  And I want to make you smile on Friday.

Because I know pink always makes me smile….

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No? Or maybe some red to go with the pink and teal?

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Or maybe some pink and blue vinyl and nasty carpet around the vanity, tub and shower?

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If that did not do it, the Baskin-Robbins wallpaper that I shred occasionally for stress release could.  Obviously working out is not relieving stress since my motivational calendar is from last August..

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I know…the the shiny brass and scalloped sinks can brighten your Friday…

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We have talked about doing some minor things to make it a little better like replacing hardware, stripping wallpaper and getting a new window covering.  But we are planning a major overhaul involving moving the tub and shower so we worry that anything we do will just be throwing money away before the real remodel.  So it looks like the day we moved in….with some new wallpaper shredding. 

So did I make you smile….or maybe cringe?

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The TV Question

So since the bed is done, I have been working on accessorizing the master bedroom so that it complete.   Not just 90% but completely finished.  Which you all know is a big step for me.

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But in trying to complete this process I have come across an obstacle that I have not been able to wrap my brain around how to successfully hide it’s ugliness. 

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You see it?  Yep the cable box (the speakers aren’t my favorite either but they don’t bother me as much for some reason).  I don’t think the reed diffuser is masking it. 

So how did the cable box find its home on the dresser?  Isn’t there a better place for it? Let’s back up a bit.

It all started when I declared that I did not want a TV in the bedroom.  Growing up we did not have cable and TV was not a big part of our lives.  We were not allowed to have TV’s in our rooms and we all had to figure out how to share one.  Sounds like fun huh? Derek on the other hand really enjoyed having a TV in the bedroom and assumed when we got married that we would have one.  Because that is what people do.

I lost the battle 5 years ago.

But until recently this is where our TV was located in our room as I did not want to crowd a dresser with it and a new flat screen was planted firmly on the “want” list and nowhere near the “need” column.  It was classy as well as dusty.

 

However when we went to the furniture store to buy a mattress, somehow this magically followed us home.

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Amazing how that happened.

So you can see that there is no place for the cable box where the TV is located.  The box currently is near the location of the original cable outlet.  So Derek ran the longest wire ever through the attic and down the wall to the TV.  In order to change the channel, you have to point the remote to the box on the dresser and not the TV. This took some getting used to and still is a little strange.

But that leads me to the problem….I can’t cover the cable box with a basket or something else because of the remote issue.  And that is the same reason it has to be in a prominent location and not stuck on some shelf somewhere.

So do you creative people have any ideas about how to fix this?  I will admit that the TV is really growing on me and maybe I was even……wrong.    Or are there more “no TV in the bedroom” people out there?

While you are thinking here are some other sneak peek pics of the other things I am putting together in the space-

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Organizing Like A Man

I have been informed that not every organization project needs to involve “girly” things like pretty labels and a label maker.   Or even color coding.  Which in my opinion takes all the fun out of organization. 

But for our latest organization project we were in Man Land (also known as the basement) and all my decorating and organizing powers suddenly disappear when we walk down there and Derek is in charge.  Oh so he likes to think so.

A little background on Man Land-It was finished when we moved in and other than doing a mini-makeover on the workout room, we have not touched it so far.  Other than to dump our old furniture (and a new must have poker table) down there.  Derek has big plans for Man Land, but other projects have taken our time and money so it keeps getting further down on the list.  There is also an unfinished portion of Man Land that is really nice for storage and to keep all of our DIY supplies.

So why bother with organizing a space we are not really using?  Ummm well because this is what it looked like.

Embarrassing.

Basement OrganizationAll of Christmas waiting to be put away

Basement OrganizationThis picture pains me.  As DIYers our tools and supplies should not look like this. 

Basement OrganizationRandom Unorganized Crap

Basement OrganizationMore Crap.

So we had a lot of organizing and purging to do.

As a disclaimer (because I will hear about this later)- Derek is actually the clean/organized one in our relationship.  Especially the clean one.  I have a bad habit of leaving things out.  Like the clothes that I wear to work I like to stack in a pile over the course of the week instead of put them in the hamper or hanging them back up.  I have been threatened with husband hacking of the blog and an expose of my piles.  So now you know and if you ever see pictures of my piles posted you will know who is behind it.  Just saying.

In the world on Man organizing, all you need is a couple of tools- a Sharpie, some tape, and boxes for organizing (not required to match).

One of the main things we needed to organize was our paint.  We had tons left over from the previous owners, our previous house, and gallon cans that were an 1/8 full that were taking up space.  So sorted through all the paint colors that we would never use again and dropped them off at our community’s household hazardous waste site.  That took over three big boxes.

The paint that we still have in our house and were more than a quarter gallon full went into this newly hung cabinet that was harvested from the old laundry room.  Finally a place for honey oak in our house.  All the paint was properly labeled with painters tape and a sharpie.  No girly labels here.

Basement Organization

The other paint that did not have much left in the can but that we could still use for touch-ups was dumped into quart containers.  And labeled with the ever popular sharpie.

Basement Organization

Basement Organization

But how should we store all the paint, not to mention our painting supplies?  How to organize it?  Did we need to buy new shelving?  Nope.  Since the basement is also the place where we store random furniture, we moved this dresser over as our new organizer.  And added more labels.  Obviously dusting is not very manly.Basement Organization

On the top of the dresser went paint trays and my box of spray paint.  Also it is the new home of my multi-use paint (like primer, trim and cabinet paint). 

In the drawers are various categories of manly tool stuff.  This one holds sponges, painters tape and protective items like gloves and face masks.

Basement Organization

And the drawer of paint…

Basement Organization

We did buy some plastic bins to sort some of the remaining items on the work bench….

Basement Organization

And added some hooks to the pegboard….

Basement Organization

So now we can actually find things that we are looking for….

Basement Organization

I do have to admit that organizing the Man way was very inexpensive.  We spent less than $25 on materials and made a large contribution of random stuff to charity which will be a bonus on next year’s taxes. 

So you do what that means?  Time to start some new DIY projects since we can find everything again!

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Cold Feet

Have I mentioned that I am just a little bit tired of winter?  

I guess I have.

But one thing that I did not go into in my past grumbling is that my hands and feet are always icicles during the winter months.  No matter how many slippers and thick socks I wear my feet are frigid.  Until now, the only thing that worked was every evening filling up the bathtub part way with hot water and dunking them.  Just a little time consuming.  Or sticking them on my husbands bare leg while we are laying in bed.  More fun ? Yes, but I bet you can guess how happy he is when I do that.

Then I heard one of my parent’s friends mention that they have like a beanbag filled with rice that they heat up and it keeps their toes cozy all night.  My mom was very intrigued (cold feet are genetic I guess) and I thought it was brilliant.  I had all these visions in my head about how I would construct it and then make an awesome tutorial to share here.  And then everyone else would be so excited that I put this new idea together in a cute fabric sort of way.

Then I googled it.

Definitely not the first person to think about this or put together a tutorial.  Rats.  Guess I have been living under a rock.

But I am happy to report that if you can sew a straight line you can put one together super quick.  Really.  No major skills required.  I put mine together in less than 10 minutes start to finish. 

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Basically all you need is a cute fabric scrap, lining fabric, some rice, some Velcro and possibly some scented oil if you want it to smell nice.  I used stuff that I had laying around except for the orange scent I found in the soap making aisle at a craft store.

Since there are so many great tutorials out there I am not going to add another one, but this one at Sew, Mama, Sew! Blog was what I used for inspiration.

In a nutshell, sew together your lining fabric on three sides, fill it with scented rice (I used about ten drops of oil) and then sew it closed.

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Then make a slightly larger pillowcase for your rice with velcro on the end.

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Smush it closed and now you have a pretty little foot warmer.

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I have found warming mine in the microwave for about 2 minutes does the trick.  I also read that some people suggest to also put a cup of water in the microwave while you are warming it to make sure your rice does not scorch.  Not sure if this is true or not but I thought it was better to play it safe because while I have never smelled burned rice, I do not imagine it to be very pleasant.

Also a hint that I learned…there is a reason that it has a removable cover.  When you set it in the microwave, make sure you take off the pretty fabric so it doesn’t get all gross sitting in there.  Or maybe that it just me and it is a sign that our microwave needs to be cleaned.  Lesson Learned.

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This might be the best winter invention yet.  It is keeping my toes toasty warm as I speak type.  And it has been going strong for over an hour.  And as a bonus, the fabric matches some of the pillows in the family room so it does not look out of place.  It can just be a mini pillow. So if you are like me and  never heard of such of thing you really need to try it out. 

I know Derek’s legs are appreciating it at least.

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An Open Letter to February

Dear February,

I always tell people that you are my favorite month.  You see when you are married to a huge sports fan it has potential.   Football has ended, baseball has not started (although I have been informed that pitchers and catchers have reported), and March Madness is still around the corner.  ESPN watching at the Anything Pretty house does not have the same intensity that it does all the other months of the year.  Which I have to admit is really nice.  More time for HGTV watching.

And you are the month that contains Valentine’s Day.  A good holiday filled with love letters, flowers and candy.  Or at least it used to back in the dating days.  Now it is more like a nice dinner and getting a bed built. And buying yourself “day after valentine’s day sale” tulips for $5 at Wal-Mart. IMG_0582

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But I have to admit that I am lying.  You are not my favorite.  Not even close.

Snow is no longer pretty or fun.  It is annoying.  Especially when it is not enough to get off of work but enough to make you shovel your driveway and dust off you car.  And make your dog look like this each time he comes in.

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Yeah the snow sticks to him and at this point I just tell him to go defrost on the carpet instead of yanking at his fur to attempt to get a portion of it off.  I am a bad dog mom.

I miss my garden.  And spending time outside.  And driving to work when it is actually light outside.  And BBQs.  And riding my bike outside.  And cut flowers from the yard.  And sunshine.   Sigh. 

So February I am ready for you to be over and for spring to arrive.  Even if it brings more ESPN, brackets and fantasy drafts.   Hopefully this clears up any confusion.  Sorry I lied and hurt your feelings.  Okay maybe I am not if it brings Spring any faster.

Love,

 

Jenny

Canopy Fun- Part One

While there were a couple of moments where it was considered....no bonfire was necessary this weekend.  Whew.  Thanks for all your votes of confidence.

In case you missed it, we I decided that there was no time like the present to follow Knock-off wood's plans to make an awesome canopy bed.

Derek had his doubts in his carpentry abilities, but I had confidence in his skills.  It was a long weekend in the cold garage but I am so happy with the results so far. 

On Thursday night Derek whipped up the headboard (this is the back side with all the knots)-


On Friday night we went out and partied put together the footboard -



Saturday started with moving our old bed into guestroom (where we will be sleeping for awhile).


And then one of the most difficult parts of the project (in my opinion at least)....moving the pieces upstairs.  You would not think the seperate pieces would be that heavy right?  Well let's just say that halfway up the stairs I started crying and decided that I just could not lift it anymore.  I bet you can guess how well that one went over.  Sadly, I don't have any pictures documenting that moment of fun. 

They are super super heavy....I am not just a big wuss....I swear.

Anyway we finally got them upstairs.  Where they had to be sniffed.


Then it was time to build the bed frame.  This probably should have been the easiest part.  But because of slightly bowed boards this took awhile.  Ana mentions on the plans that bowed boards are the worst thing to deal with.  Listen to her.



But my carpenter husband figured it out (with my help of course) and we got the main bed together by the time it was dark.


And then finally it was all together. 




Another picture that did not make the cut was the first canopy.  Let's just say it was way too tall.  Derek had it all together and it just did not look right.  The bed looked ginormous.  I wanted the scale to be bigger to fit the room but it was way.too.big.  So I rechecked the plans and then measured as Derek was putting in the final screw. 

J: Why do the plans say 83" tall but it is 99" tall?
D: You said you wanted it to be tall.  83" is for rooms with normal ceilings.  Also the picture above the bed will fit perfectly.  It would not fit if I had made it smaller.
J:  I can put that picture somewhere else in the room....if it "fits" perfectly it will look way to big for above the bed.  The canopy just looks way too tall.  You really decided the height by the picture?  Thank you of thinking about it but it just looks like a bed for giants.
D: You're serious?
J: Yes.
D: (edited to keep the blog family friendly)

In the end he took the canopy down and all the posts, took them back to the garage to cut them and then put it all back together again.  True love.  Or he just did not want to hear about how it was too tall for the rest of his life. 

Now you see why I did not document that particular step by pictures.

For the next week I will be working on finishing it...we are going with black but I am on the fence about whether to paint it like the kitchen cabinets or glaze it like I did the bathroom cabinets.  Hmmmm..... 

Stay tuned next week for the final reveal!
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The Snowy Recap

Well we are home safe and sound from a great Christmas.  I can't wait to share some of my gifts but for now here is how our second Christmas went with the in-laws.

We filled the car completely with dogs and stuff.  I have no idea how we are going to travel for Christmas when we have a baby as well...might be renting a Suburban....

This Christmas marked the dogs first time staying in a hotel.  If you are traveling with pets, the La Quinta was perfect.  We had to sign a pet waiver, but there was no charge for pets, even dogs over 50 lbs.  They also put us in a room right next to the back door which was perfect for us to take them out.

Jack and Winter did not know what to make of the room....they looked around and then scratched at the door to leave.


We had a couple of inches of snow at the in-laws, but not a whole lot.  The pups liked romping around in it anyway-

Then of course there were presents...lots of presents-

Jack again was an expert present opener and enjoyed sticking his head into everything-

We gave Derek's brother a sweet pair of boxers that I "won" at a white elephant gift exchange.  This was his "excited" face.  (Yes that is puffy velvet lips...this might top the santa clause boxers and matching hat we bestowed on him lat year)

The dogs also received a present they loved....

Yep a Bud Light Tailgate Approved Beer Vest.....


And then there were cookies.....




(recipes here and here)

 After all the family fun was over it was time to say goodbye start our journey back home.

The roads were clear when we set out.  Then it started looking like this...


Which turned into this....


And then we got stuck trying to get up the driveway.  Wish I had a pic of that.

But we managed to get unstuck, parked the SUV in our neighbors clear driveway and then Derek shoveled out two spaces for the tires while his ever helpful wife snapped pictures.

But Derek's fun was not over yet....we could not get the back door open because so much snow was piled against it. The gate to the back yard also would not open because of snow, so he got to jump the six foot privacy fence to unbury the door.

The dogs had a blast romping in the snow Jack hopped like a rabbit because it was so high.  I have seen anything more hilarious. Of course we got some great pics and video....but I have a confession to make.   I can't get it off of the camera because I have no memory left of my computer.  I have used over 40GB of space.  Awesome.   Guess I have too many inspiration pictures.

So tomorrow I am going to stop procrastinating dumping tons of photos to the external hard drive.  Should be tons of fun.  Until then just imagine four feet of snow piled around cars and us up to our knees in in the driveway.

Hope everyone had  great Christmas and safe travels!
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    Haul Out the Holly

    Over Thanksgiving we participated in the pups’ favorite holiday tradition….the infamous Christmas card pic. Here is the finished product (ordered from Photoworks)-

    Yes we are one of “those people” who signs their dogs name on the card. Go ahead and make fun. I actually loved some other of the designs with multiple pictures on the site, but I thought if multiple dog pictures were included, we would really be laughed at.

    The plan was to take the picture outside where the dogs are the happiest. You know in front of the Christmasey looking pine trees. That way it was possible that the dogs might actually look somewhat happy. Unfortunately we had to switch the location because of mud and the presence of a neighbors dog that they could not take their eyes off of. The picture on the card was the best out of all of the 25 pics. My dad was meowing like a cat to get Jack to look (and prompt the head cock….I guess my father makes a pretty convincing cat sound). Winter obviously was not impressed and was more concerned with the dog 5 houses down. Most of the other shots looked something like this-so I am somewhat happy with the final result.

    It is also quite possible that the pups inability to cooperate with looking happy for the camera is a direct result of this torture-

    Our second family tradition on Thanksgiving weekend is going to cut down a tree. Tradition is probably a strong word considering it it is only our second time doing it. Last year it snowed during this tradition and Derek suffered frostbite on his toes as a result of not wearing snow boots and a wife who wanted to traipse around the lot for an hour in search of a perfect tree. But of course it was still so much fun that we wanted to do it again. This year there was no snow but we did have a cold and windy day. One of the cool things about the location we live in (at least when you are going to cut down a Christmas tree I guess) is that in 25 minutes you are in the “country”. So we did not have to drive very far to get here-We explored a every field of trees until we found the winner. Of course it was located in the field farthest away from the payment area so we also got our exercise in by dragging the nine footer a very long way. Also did I mention our tree has a slight obesity problem? Seriously we picked a really fat tree. I was worried how we were going to to fit it through the door (even in netting) and if it would engulf our family room once it was opened.

    Anyway we took a self-portrait in front of our tree which turned out to the worst picture ever and I can’t believe I am even posting it. Obviously it is was very windy and contrary to my appearance I am not drunk-So Derek got to cut it down while I helped snapped photos-Then we brought fat boy home and set it up-
    And of course we decorated. We had to change the normal location and block a doorway in order to accommodate our hefty tree. But I am loving the Christmas smell and spirit it brings to the room. Of course it will look better photographed in natural light but I could not wait to share some photos.
    I am so happy that the rest of the house is completely decorated and the boxes are all put away. Can’t wait to share those!


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    Basement Inspiration

    We are slowly running out of rooms in our house to start a new project on (we have plenty to still complete since I am the queen of 90% but that is another story).

    The basement is part of the final frontier and Derek thinks that since it is "man land" that he gets to make all design and purchasing decisions. Our basement is finished thankfully but right now it is pretty boring with tan walls and old carpet. We only use it currently for the exercise room and as overflow for the guest bedroom. It is one of the few rooms that does not have honey oak trim and I believe Derek is thinking about painting all of it black. Glad he is going to learn how to paint trim because I am pretty sick of it.

    Anyway, our basement has two tiny windows so it does not get much light and I want to be able to use the space as a kid area when we have children. So designing this space (on a small budget of course) is going to be tricky.

    For a little inspiration I turned to my all time favorite designer-Candice Olsen. I love everything she does and one of the things she does best is basements in my opinion. So here is what I love in case Derek happens to read this when he is thinking about what he wants to do down there:).

    Nothing like purple couches to say "man land"


    (all photos courtesy of HGTV)