Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Baby Number 4 has Arrived!

Our sweet little girl arrived at the end of september, thanks to a wonderful and merciful doctor, who induced me a week early!  And boy was it a good thing he did!  She was our biggest baby yet weighing in at 8lbs, 6oz.!  She is two weeks old now and so much fun to have around. We were able to bless her in her little blessing dress this past weekend, while the grandparents were here.  So, here are some pictures of her all fancied up for the camera! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blessing Dress

Can I just say that my oldest daughter is turning into quite the project junky herself.  I mentioned to her a month ago that i thought it would be fun to make a dress for our new baby girl to be blessed in after she is born.  Like a Christening dress, a Blessing dress is usually fancy and white, but it doesn't have to be.  And in the spirit of wedding dresses with a splash of color, wanted to do something a little different for our Autumn baby.  So I told my daughter, we could make it out of cream fabric, and add brown tulle or a few tan ruffles in places for a twist on the normal Blessing dress.  So she stopped me before I gave her all my ideas and said. . ."Mom, i have just the dress we can make it out of."  I was kinda surprised that she would automatically look for another piece of clothing to make it from (since for once I was totally planning on buying fabric for it) and was nervous about what dress she was wanting to slice up.  She came back with a hand me down dress up dress from her dress up bin, that I think at one point in it's life span was a very cute little girls dress, but had been picked up at a yard sale, given to my sister in law, and handed down to me for playtime.  I looked it over and saw enough salvageable material, that I was getting pretty excited.  It was lined with satin, had raw silk, and organza. .  . which gave it lots of potential.  I messed around with it for a few days and with some inspiration from my friend Cindy at Cranberries and Capers, who customized and shipped a beautiful Blessing day headband before I had even fully formulated the my dress ideas. (Here's what she sent. . . . she. is. AMAZING.) 

I came up with a sweet petite fall Blessing dress, that has lots of different textures and warm woodsy colors that I am just LOVING!


And the best part, is it was totally free, thanks to my little project clone!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Beginning

It is time to really buckle down and get ready for this baby to come and live with us!  So, we started rearranging things.  You know, I am learning, with each subsequent child, all the unpractical notions of a perfect nursery, just the right bedding, or a dream space for your new baby,  leave your head.  Because you learn (and it has taken me 4 kids now to get it) that all the fluffy bedding, will be on the floor most the time, and you will use all those hospital blankets to keep them swaddled tight at night.  And in a few short years you will want to change all those hand painted details in their room to fit a different gender baby or to go with their personality more.  I know now that the best investments are the essentials, like good crisp sheets, because that is what people will see when the come into their room, or cuter recieving blankets because they will poop through them, and a good swaddle is your saving grace at night.  All the pomp and frills are so fun, and I would do them again, but this time, I know that she will probably spend most her nights sleeping wherever will give us a good 3 hour stretch at a time.  And as she grows the same sleeping arrangement won't always work, so we will switch her her around sharing with her siblings until we find just the right fit for two little personalities. . . and that is okay!   All that being said, I have been sluggish putting her stuff somewhere, because i want to have the best access and  with three bedrooms, she doesn't have the luxury of her own room.  But i made it official the other day that she is going to start out living in the corner of our bonus room.  That is her space.  She has a dresser, and space to be changed and a space to sleep, and there is a comfy rocker to rock her to sleep.  And she will just be a cute little nomad for a while. 

But, baby stuff aside, as I lugged this old dresser across the upstairs  from my bedroom to the bonus room, I realized this brown beauty was my starting place in home projects and refinishing: 

This old dresser was hand made for my dad to use when he was a boy.  It was old and rickety with a cherry finish. When my husband and I were newlyweds we acquired it from my grandparents house, and after a year or two we decided it needed a face lift.  So, I went--completely unknowledgeable of what I was about to undertake--to Walmart and picked up some bison brown paint and some poly, and went to work.  We added new knobs and although it was still old and rickety, it had a nice chocolate brown finish to match our bedroom.  And we had a great feeling making something, we already had, work for us.  I look around our house at our furniture--a vast majority of which is hand me downs, or garage sale, or more recently, made by the hubs--and it has all had our love worked into it in some way or another.   It all started with this first little dresser whose refinishing work pales in comparison, now that we have learned more through trial and error.  It has been such a blessing in our lives to have started working on these little skills of reworking old furniture and clothes to be something that is new, fresh, and exactly what we want.  It started out by just giving it a shot. . . there wasn't much to lose.  The dresser couldn't have looked any more out of style, so we just plunged in, and here we are 5 years later with a house decorated the way we love, and full of pieces that tell a story and have a little of our blood sweat and tears (literally) finished right into them.  And this rickety dresser, our baby of the furniture, so to speak, is all grown up, and will probably need some more TLC soon, but it feels good to see it in it's current form, being used for our new baby for a while.  We had we thrown it out long ago, we would have been one dresser short right now.  So, if you are a blog peruser and you look at the things people are doing and think I could never do that, then think again!  Your first few things may flop, but you will learn from it, and be so glad you have the know how to turn that $20 garage sale bed frame, with all it's cute little details and a bad stain, into just the thing you need for your little girls room! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wishing Well

My in laws have this pipe coming up out of their front yard. They were thinking it was a little unsightly, so they enlisted my husband to make a faux wishing well to cover it up.  He gathered supplies before we went down there, and a couple of days into our vacation he had this little cedar beauty sitting in their yard.  I love how it looks in it's natural wood state, all surrounded by the forest.  I am never very good about thinking of outside decor or landscaping.  It is something I wish I was better at.  I thought it was such a great idea my mother in law had to get rid of an eye sore that isn't removable.  It makes me want to drop a penny in and make a wish :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Goodbye Summertime, You Will be Missed.

Whoa, where did summer go?  Even though it still feels a bit like summer here.  Kids are back in school, and life is slowing down.  And I am getting back into a normal routine.  I feel like the biggest slacker on the blog front.  It is one thing to have the posts and the pictures in mind, it is a wholly other thing to find a minute to sit at the computer and publish them.  We had such a fun summer.  And one of the most exciting months was July, where we went absolutely nowhere.  I enrolled the kids in a little imaginative movement class for one day a week, and a friend of mine and I swapped Tuesdays to present a craft class at our houses once a week.  We filled in the rest of the days with swimming, when it was warm, and activities when it was rainy (which wasn't too much. . .it was a pretty hot July!).  But the activities and crafts we did added so much to our daily routines that I wanted to share the ones we did.  Most of them we found on crafty little blogs, and the cost was minimal, but made for hours of fun!  They would be great to do for bday parties, rainy days, science projects, or just to add some flare to the week. 

Here are the links:

The Idea Room:  Bouncy Ball

The Idea Room: Marshmallow Guns

You Tube: Cute T shirt Cutting- (we used this one Here)

You Tube: Tie Dying Designs

Make Your own Bubbles

Family Fun: Sand Castles that Last

Here are some pictures of the fun:

The finished bouncy balls.  She noted this in her post, but they really aren't that bouncy.  She has another one that we didn't try that is suppose to be more bouncy ball-like.  We still had fun making them and letting them bobble across the kitchen floor for a few hours :). 

Mini Marshmallow Guns.  Not only were they fun to assemble, but my friend Kayla, who was in charge of this fun little activity, had targets to shoot at, and bottles to knock down.  She even painted them at the end.  My kids still sleep with theirs by their bed.

Make your own Bubbles.  This is really a trial and error process I found.  There are tons of recipes out there that are all basically the same ingredients but in looking at the comments on most it seemed like there was never 100% success rate for those using them.  We could only get a few of the really big bubbles to come off our homemade wands.  But the little bubbles worked great. 

Sand castles were so fun to play with and make but my advice: Use a pot you don't care about to cook it in , and the lastablilty was a bit questionable, because once they dry they begin to crumble, so if your little
ones want to touch it after it's dry, it really won't "last" too long!

I wish i had pictures of the tie dying.  But it was a bit much for me to get pictures while keeping my 2 year old from dying herself pink.  But maybe i can get my daughter to model her shirt for a picture later.  We cut our T's (for the girls) before dying them and they use them as cover ups for their suits, or layer them with a tank top.  They turned our adorable!

Not all of the projects had the outcome that we thought, but they were all worth it, and the kids loved them all, whether they flopped or not.  It's really all about doing something different and switching up a mundane routine. Anyone else do any fun summer projects with the kids?  I would love to hear about them! 

The next few weeks will be major baby prep!  This kiddo is due in 5 weeks!  We have some desks to assemble, rooms to rearrange and dressers to repaint and pass around to different kids, so look for some crunch time posts in the weeks to come :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rock-a-bye baby

So, it is really getting close, the due date of this little bun in my oven.  Just over 2 months away!  Time sure is flying fast.  And after that doozy of a project on the stairs and hallway I just finished, my ideas have turned more baby-minded.  As I have started pulling things out from storage I am feeling like it is all looking a bit old and worn, and some of it just a little blah.  Sort of like this:

Okay, so there is nothing wrong with this, and actually this isn't mine, but it has the same blah and boring look of the swing I had that was destroyed by a 3 and 4 year old jumping on it and playing all sorts of little games in it the last time it was out.  But I am sure anyone who had a kid 6-8 years ago will remember those navy blue and cream plaids that Graco was shelling out for their swings, carseats, pack-n-plays,etc.  I was happy to accept a hand me down from a neighbor to replace my old one, but the pattern wasn't much more exciting.  The swing my friend gave me had the bonus of little dancing teddy bears in overalls.  I was very grateful for a swing--teddy bears or not--because, hey, that's more money in my pocket that I can use for diapers, but I still wanted something a little sassier.  I have noticed, with the coming of number 4 to our house, that our house is all about kids.  We have toys and baby stuff everywhere.  I love it, it makes our house home to have our kids things planted here and there, but with all the little nick nacks I am collecting are really a part of my decor and I want them to look cute and match my decor, dang-it!  So, for a very minimal fee (I think it was about $15-- and could have been even cheaper if I could ever lay my hands on the 40% off JoAnn's coupons when I go) I got some awesome brown and cream zebra home decor fabric (I believe I only used about a half yard, but you would have to measure your own swing cushion), a yard of tan trim for the straps, and a yard of avacado-green ruffle.  Although I spent a little bit more because I didn't measure for what I really needed (and i didn't even use a half a yard of the fabric) I think you could easily pick up the supplies, if you measured everything before you picked it up, for about $10. 

My project began when my mother in law was here, and she pretty much did all the work on it while I got some rest (thank you a thousand times over).  But what we did for the swing makeover was cover the cushion in the same fashion i did for the ironing board.  My mother in law just cut it out using the cushion as a pattern and zig zag stitched around, adding the new ruffle in place of the old one.  We changed over all of the old navy straps to nice fresh tan ones.  And finally took the plastic off of the metal swing poles and sprayed them Krylon's oil rubbed bronze.  Once it was dry we put it all back together and set it up in my living room. It's sophisticated with sort of a whimsical baby charm.  I am loving it!  It looks great, it matches and it's functional. . . yeah!     *Just a note:  Knowing this is for a baby, I didn't attempt to paint or change the tray or the seat or the toys.  Luckily the seat, and trey and plastic bits all seemed to match what I was doing. . .the toys did not.  Those darn toys actually are pretty stuck on there, and are still a bit ugly, but better safe than sorry with remaking baby stuff. So no one get too carried away with the spray paint ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm Pooped!

It's DONE, can you believe it!?!?!?  It has been a long two weeks.  But we finished the stairs, AND the hallway. . . AND added a new little pottery barn style bench for the foyer.  I must say, that the hard part was that we had to do all our work at night so the kiddies wouldn't touch the walls, or be in the middle of a mess, or have the exposed outlets all around.  So after they would fall asleep we would work like elves until we dropped, then we would have to put everything away until the next night when we could do a second coat, or more poly or whatever the next night needed.  It was tiring work for a prego lady and a busy husband, but we are so thrilled with the outcome.  It was a while ago that my hubs and I pulled up the hallway carpet, so let me give you a reminder of the "before" upstairs hallway: 

The new floors were nice, but still hardly enjoyable with the tattered, pale walls
until. . . .

{Ahhhh} MUCH better, huh!?  And here are the stairs new stairs:

And, some close ups of the bench (good thing my mother in law was here to whip up an awesome cushion for it in no time):

I can't say enough how much I am loving the final product, and how much I am loving having this project behind me.  It really add to the look of our house, and seems to make all the rooms around it look a little more put together.  We have been working towards updating our hallway for a while (see Here and Here) and It feels like it is officially done, and I have never been so exhausted in my life :)

Some things I have learned while doing the stairs:

Most carpeted stairs have a pine tread that is not "stain-grade" so use a wood conditioner before applying the stain.  It will soak in more evenly and richer on the soft pine wood. 

Also, if you plan to paint as well, do in this order: pull up carpet, paint walls/trim, sand stairs, stain, poly, then apply a pre-painted beadboard and finish with touch ups.   The order we did our project in wasn't the smartest.  Doing the stairs first was what we needed to do to realize what really needed to be done with the surroundings.  But I wouldn't recommend that.   Our plan was sort of unfolding as we were working, so we had to do some touch ups on the stair treads after we were done. 

Don't get hung up on the knicks or cracks or stratches in the wood.  I was so worried about all the imprefections until I saw the Thrifty Decor Chic's stair project and read her advice.  It is true, Once your stairs as a whole are finished you won't even notice it.  Even with our lighter stain, now that the whole scene is finishes you can hardly notice that totally damaged stair near the bottom.  It all blends in and it all adds character and charm.  I didn't even fill the holes left by the staples.  Stainable woodfiller really isn't as stainable as they say.  It never stains the same as the wood, so we left it out, and the holes are much less noticable that way.

Sand really good.  Even if it's a pain and even if you don't want to, just do a little more.  It will look so much better.  Also, use an orbital sander.  Your life will be much easier.  Our corner cat sometimes leaves vibration marks on wood that are hard to get rid of, but the orbital sander is fast, smooth and easy to use.  We borrowed one, but I think, after seeing how well it worked, it will be our next tool purchase. 

For those of you who are Interested the process for the stairs went as follows:
 1. Remove carpet/padding
 2. Use pliers to remove all carpet staples from the stair treads (if you are putting bead board up you dont need to remove the staples from the risers because it will all be covered, you can just hammer them in). 
 3. Use a sander (orbital is preferable because it works fast, gives and even sand, and can get right up to those edges where all the paint from the trim is dried to.  I like to feel each stair as I go to know how much sanding i need to do.  You want a smooth surface to stain.
 4. Clean stairs with a vacuum and damp cloth to make sure all the dust is up.
 5. Apply a wood conditioner per the instructions on the label.
 6. Stain stairs desired color (we needed ours light so we only did one coat, but you may need more coats to get the richness you need).
 7.  After stain has dried (per the instructions on the label), place a high durability polyurethane over top.  (we wanted to use the poly/stain combo, but the lady at home depot said that it was not great for high traffic areas or floors, so we opted to do a separate poly and stain.  But the poly will say on the back label if it is suitable for flooring. 
 8. Repeat coats of poly several times sanding in between.  We did 5 coats of polyurethane on our stairs. Make sure to do it at a time where you have adequate time to let it dry without stepping on it.  Doing it before bed worked great for us, it was plenty dry by morning. 
 9. Paint bead board desired color.
 10.  Measure and cut to fit the size of risers
 11.  Apply with finishing nail gun. 
 12.  Caulk any edges  that don't quite match up and fill all nail holes with wood filler
 13.  Finish up with a little touch up paint over the filled nail holes and cracks, and you are DONE!!!

Now, let's here those carpets being torn from the floor!!! ;)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Painting myself in a Corner

(pardon the dusty steps, we are still a bit under construction, but i just had to share the progress!)

Actually, I have been polyurethane-ing myself upstairs, every night for the past 4 nights.  It is a funny feeling to be stuck in your upstairs for 8 hours, but, with 5 people living here, is the only way to live in the  house, and still do the stairs.  The stairs are really taking shape now.  It was touch and go there for a few days, wondering if i would need to just order new carpet in the end.  But now that they are gleaming from gloss and that rich honey color has sunk in, I am starting to look past some of the imperfections (like the one pictured below. . . that i found on the second to last step that I stained) that were bugging me while i was pulling out staples, and sanding the heck out of the treads. 

Since the weekend, Hubby also put up chair rail in the hallway and stairwell, and put bead board or wainscoting on the risers.  It is really taking shape now, and I am so glad i pushed passed the staining and poly stage to give it a chance, because I have hardly noticed the stairs that seemed so glaring with uneven stain soak-age, or surface blemishes.  We are still trying to decide on a color for the top half of the wall.  I want something in the brown family, but it can't be to dark, and I want it to match the existing tan that goes throughout the main level. . . . AND. . . I want to have it all done by Saturday.  Hubby and I are exhausted at the end of each night.  Not because of how much of the day we are spending on it really, but because now that school is out and the kids are home,and it is a main traffic area, only time to work on the hallway is after the kids go to bed, which lately has been 9:30-10 at night.  So, we will be glad when it all comes together. 

And since ADD always gets the best of me during projects and I can't just focus on one thing at a time; i started looking up some entryway benches wishing i had a cuter one than the one i removed to paint.  It is one of those things i got years ago at a yard sale and painted black and set there, and haven't taken a second glance at since.  But now that it is out, and everything else is looking so upgraded, I started thinking a nice cushioned, pottery barn type bench would be nice.  So I sent my hubs THIS link, and last night before i went to bed, it was put together just waiting for me to sand and paint.

 I can't wait to go to the fabric store to look for a cushion fabric!  Isn't my hubbers the best?  I love a guy that loves a good spontaneous project!  Thanks Babe! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Call me Crazy

No, seriously. . . this time, it may be true.  This nesting stage always gets to me.  I have done some pretty wild and detailed projects during this past stage in my pregnancies, but I think this idea takes the cake for maybe one of the oddest. . . and possibly most detrimental if it doesn't turn out the way I think it will.  BUT. . . if it does work out the way I see it in my head, than I just saved myself a couple hundred buckeroos and, will finally rid myself of the horrid covering, that currently two days ago inhabited my stairway.

 Just so we are all on the same page. . . everyone think for a minute of that thing you said you would do first when you moved into you house.  Was it change a light fixture?  Repaint?  Change flooring?  Fix a hole in the wall?  Well..... is it still there????  I find I have a few simple things I thought, we can fix that, we can replace that, and some days i stare at those things realizing that it has been 3 years, and i am just as accustomed to them, as I assumed the previous owner was.  Who knows, they probably hated it too, but other things take priority, and suddenly that rusted, vent cover doesn't seem so bad to live with for a while.  Well here is a picture of what my item that bugs me everyday, but I have yet to do anything about (I really hate to even claim these):

(I was already taking a peak at what was underneath the carpet, that was actually not like that from the beginning. . .I'm not that bad) 
In case it is hard to tell the dark encrusted stains that have taken up permanent residence on them, here is another view:

And although we did take action on some of the carpet the first week we lived in the house, by getting it out of the entryway it is a long slow process to rid ourselves of all of it in a cost effective way, while keeping some sense of uniform-ism to our house.  But this staircase is that last high traffic area that has the white carpet and other day I was staring at it thinking, this. is. gross.  I couldn't take it anymore.  We caught a glimpse of the wood underneath when we redid our hallway, so I tossed the idea of ripping the carpet out, and staining the treads underneath to my Hubby and got his thoughts.  We figured worse case scenario-- we replace the carpet.  So, I started ripping.  Meanwhile, Hubby sends me this link to an awesome blog (who knew he could get into this whole blogging thing?) The Thrifty Decor Chick, and she has recently done the same thing to her stairs.  It was great to see it done, know it can turn out good, and know not to worry about little imperfections. Plus, I LOVED her walls with white and and the brown (well, she has tan, but there is brown too, it's a great combo), so I was definitely getting some inspiration from that.  So, the staircase has been my night and day project for the last 4 days, and isn't finished (not even close).  I will post updates as I go throughout the next week.  I am hoping to have the stairs and the upstairs hallways done within two weeks (we have company coming, that always speeds things along. . .no one wants to visit a construction zone ;) ).  Wish me Luck!  And if it sucks, i may need to learn how to install carpet :).


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dresser Love

Oh, was it years ago I told you I got an awesome dresser off craigslist that I was going to refinish? I had my idea in mind before I even picked up the pine-topped, crackle covered, country dresser from the house I was buying it from.  I put it in my garage, and then {let the excuses begin} winter hit, and of course it was too cold to go out, and then the holidays, and then I found out I was pregnant and was too tired, and when I started feeling better, it was spring, and I was too busy with the kids, and then end of the year school stuff. . . . aaaannd then my hubs gave me an ultimatum. . . "If it's not done by the end of May, it is going to the dump."  Well, turns out that was all I needed to get my tush into gear (He should have said that about 6 months ago when I bought it, haha).  It was finished by the end of May, I went to put the drawers in place, loving my finished product AND. . . . the top drawer wouldn't fit.  In fact none of the drawers would fit in that top spot.  It must be the warm weather, because I'm pretty sure that wasn't a problem before, but I really wanted it to be a cute AND functional piece of furniture.  So, the hubs stepped in, and trimmed down the tops of each drawer so they all slide in and out with ease.  We just touched up the paint, dusted it off and brought it to our room tonight. I have been laying on my bed trying to blur out the mess of mismatched furniture around it because it adds such a regal touch to our room.  I need a matching one now to replace our other, now sad and droopy looking, dresser.  There are so many wonderful details I didn't notice or expect until I got working on it.  Fun little holes and details that give it just the right amount of character.  Oh, and don't get me started on how much I LOVE this stain with poly combine.  It's a dream!  I was worried it would be hard to get even and the finish turned out silky and smooth.  I must say though, I had decided when I started (after seeing a table of my sister in laws) that I would try for a bit of an uneven finish to it.  I know it seems like a weird idea, but there is a depth that that sort of finish creates that I am adoring right now.  So, without further ado. . the dresser that took about 9 months to birth.  It sure does fill my room with warmth :)  I think this new arrival of mine {the baby} has taken less of a toll than this piece of furniture!    
And the AFTER......

Don't you just love those little holes?    Well, now I have a lot more furniture in my room that need the boot or a good creative eye to get it up to par with this piece of furniture or it may just drive me crazy, and no one needs a crazy pregnant lady around ;)

P.S.  Next on my list of things to finish is the girls dresser, for which, I have already purchased a fun raspberry pink, so I am hoping to knock that out this weekend!