Thursday, February 24, 2011

Basement Plans

We have lived in our house for 5 1/2 years. We had this house built which was a first for us, and like everything you do for the first time, you learn from your mistakes. One big mistake we made was not having the builder finish the basement for us. We tried to save money and figured "Oh, we can do it for much cheaper than the builder will charge!" Ha. Big mistake. Because we have lived with only a 2/3 finished house now for half a decade and it's been a challenge.

With a new baby on our heels, we have felt intense pressure to get this project underway. I am thrilled to say that we now have a CAD drawing (thanks to my incredibly talented engineer father) so we know exactly what we are looking at. We have spent hundreds of hours down in that basement, dreaming and scheming over the years, of what we would like it to become one day. "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if one day we..." Now that day is here!

We have framing scheduled for about ten days from now and I couldn't be more excited. Who would have thought the idea of having hundreds of pounds of lumber delivered into our driveway would thrill me so? Friday after next can not get here fast enough. After the framing, we are having all of the electrical done. Then the city comes out to inspect it, then we will possibly have it re-insulated. Then the first thing to be fully finished is Ethan's bedroom. Our sleeping situation in our current three bedrooms is interesting, and poor Ethan has been dying for his own room for months now. Or mabye even years now. I have so many fun decorating ideas for his bedroom and I can't wait until we are to that point!

After Ethan's bedroom is completely finished we will do the family room, which will also be fun. We are making a cove in the wall which will house our television with built in shelves below it. But my favorite part about this room will be the large walk-in storage closet and neighboring work station. The work station will consist of a large built in desk with cabinets below, and shelves all the way to the ceiling. It will be a great place for the family computer and for kids to work on projects. Then on the other side of the bathroom door will be a floor to ceiling built in bookcase. We will also be replacing the current sliding exterior doors (upstairs as well) with nice French doors.

The bathroom and the laundry room will be the last things finished, probably within a few months of finishing everything else. Since it is still very livable being unfinsihed, we don't feel the same urgency to get them done. Ethan can hoof it upstairs to use the bathroom and shower when he needs to.

Stay tuned for fun things we are doing to our basement! It's going to be quite the adventure!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Valentine Shelf Sitters

I know Valentine's Day was a week ago, but I am just now getting a chance to document a couple little things I made for the holiday. I always have 2x4s or scraps of 2x4s sitting in my garage, and I love to find uses for them. I made a couple of shelf sitters and I only used what I had on hand. Scrapbook paper, a little paint, distressing tools, Mod Podge, and ribbon. Notice I did NOT mention vinyl. Do I have a vinyl cutting machine? I wish. It's on my long list of things I'd like to have. Maybe for my birthday I will splurge a little and buy something like that for myself!
Doing faux vinyl on something like this is super easy, and when it's all done, you can't tell the difference. I simply fed my paper into my laser printer and printed off the words. If you have ample ink in your cartridges, it seriously looks just like vinyl letters. When you go to Mod Podge the paper onto the wood, brush all around the lettering and then at the very end give a quick swipe over the entire word surface, just to make sure it has the same sheen as the rest of it. If it gets too wet or you brush it too much, the ink can streak just a tad. But still, it takes quite a bit of glue application to even make it streak in the slightest.
I made a set of these "LOVE" blocks for each sister I visit teach from church. I love that this project didn't cost me anything! Go out and buy yourself a couple of 2x4s because they are very cheap (about $3 for 8 feet) and they are great to have on hand for when you get the crafting bug!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tea Party Chairs- Complete!

Another project completed! Still a ton to do before the end of March when I officially need to be off my feet in preparation for this baby's debut. These chairs were extremely easy to do. I made the first one from start to finish before I even began the second one. When building something I have never done before, I always like to make one "prototype" in case I make a mistake or don't like a part of the plans. But there wasn't anything I would change about these plans. You can check them out here.

They are said to be "$4 chairs", but builder beware. I did only spend about $3.85 on lumber. But then I added in three cans of spray paint at about $4 a piece and about $8 in screws. Plus there is the wood glue, but I already had that on hand. For paint I used Rustoleum Sweet Pea satin (about 1 1/2 cans) and Rustoleum French Lilac satin (about half a can for the seat slats). I also used all 1 1/2 inch #6 Philps head screws, about 40 for each chair.

I built the entire chair base and painted it before adding in the seat slats. Since I wanted them in different colors, I painted them seperately. And it worked out great since the slats are the very last thing to go on. I distressed the slats and had every intention of distressing the pink on the chairs, but I am tired and worn out and SICK of sanding. Maybe one of these days I will distress them further, but for now I am happy with them.
The girls were very excited to see them completed last night! Today they wanted to have a Valentine's tea party lunch with their "new" table and chairs. I am very pleased with how the set turned out!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kid Sized Ballet Barre

My little ballerinas have been getting ready for their upcoming recital next month. The other day Hailey was practicing in the living room but kept losing her balance during one of the moves. In frustration, she said "Mom, it's not fair that I keep falling! I never fall in ballet class!" I told her it was because they used a barre in class to keep balance.

And then it hit me. My friend Alicia made a simple ballet barre as a gift for her niece. I remembered seeing it once and when I looked at the picture again, my mind imediately started modifying and building it. Thanks, Alicia, for giving me the inspiration!

I had several 2x4s in my garage, along with some scrap pieces of 1x2s and plenty of screws. All I needed was a rod, so after a quick trip to Ace and forking over $5.99, I had everything I needed to make my girls their very own ballet barre. The design is very simple, but I learned a few things as I went and after some tweaking, this is what I came up with. I still need to sand and paint it. I have the perfect color of off white paint that I'm going to use to keep it nice and feminine.
I used 2 1/2 inch #8 Philips screws for everything except drilling the 1x2 braces into the side beams. I started by drilling the bottom 51" piece into the side beams (27" pieces). Then I drilled the rod into the top using a single screw on each end.
Next I drilled the 24" base beams onto the 51" cross beam. I thought I was done, but nope! Upon flipping it back over, I found that it was very wobbly. So I then used two more 12" 2x4s to make the braces on the bottom beam. I thought I was done. Nope! Still wobbly from front to back.
So I grabbed some scrap 1x2s and made four more 12" mitered braces for the front and back. Aaaaahhh, perfect! It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing design because of all the braces, but I didn't want it to get twisted and broken when a kid decides to hang from it, rather than use it for what it should be used for.

When it's painted, it's going to look great. I tried to get a picture of both girls in front of it to show that it's the perfect size for two small children, but alas. Lauren wouldn't stop playing outside to come in for a picture. Hailey has already informed me that she wants a "dark purple" stereo for their room so she can play her own ballet music while practicing (don't know where I'll find a stereo in THAT color...) They are quite the little divas!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine Ice Cream Pie

We had a yummy and VERY easy treat for family home evening tonight (for FHE the kids made valentines for the classmates). Not a whole lot to it and this is all you'll need for this variety-

1 graham cracker pie crust

3 cups softened vanilla ice cream

2-3 Tbsp strawberry lemonade powder (depending on how strong you like it)

1/3 C cold water

2 cups Cool Whip


Disolve the drink mix and water together. Add in the icre cream and beat with an electric mixer until just blended. Stir in the Cool Whip by hand, then pour it into the pie crust. Put a few sprinkles on top and then freeze for about an hour. This was really yummy and PINK! I should have added a little bit of red food coloring for that extra something. You can do this with anything...I think for St. Patty's day I will use an Oreo pie crust and mint chocolate chip ice cream instead, with a little more green coloring in it. You should try it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tea Party Table Complete!

One more thing marked off my list! I am so happy with how the table turned out. The top was completely beaten up, but it was very salvagable and I couldn't deny what good shape the structure of the table was in. You can see what it used to look like here. Still can't believe this beauty was only $5.
I sanded it a lot, mainly on the top and the apron sides. The aprons were already distressed looking, but that is the look I was going for anyway. I still sanded the apron sides, but left quite a bit of the "cracked" look. Then I primed the whole thing (I used spray on the legs because I didn't want it to drip and look streaky on those ridges.) Then I used "heirloom white" spray paint from Rustoleum. After it dried completely, I distressed it quite a bit, then glazed it with Ralph Lauren's "manchester brown" (which is the same glaze I used on my six foot wall ledges). Obviously I was wanting the table to look antiqued and I think I accomplished that.

I left some of the cracking on the surface as well, and the glaze filled right in those cracks adding to the distressed look. Too bad you can't see the detail very well in these pictures.
The girls were very excited about it! Now if I can just find some time this week to finish their chairs. When I finish them, I will use the same technique with the distressing and the glazing. They are going to be light pink and lavender in parts. Talk about girly!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Entertainment Buffet

This has been a very difficult couple of weeks at our house because everyone has been sick. Well, I have not been sick, but I've played nurse to everyone and it's been exhausting. Being 30 weeks pregnant while doing it is really hard, so unfortnuately many of my projects have taken a backseat to the sickies around here.

I have been able to get a few things done, like tonight I put the finishing touches on the tea party table. It's completely done, and I must say it looks awesome. Lauren saw it tonight and she squealed with delight! Tomorrow the glaze coat will be dry and the lighting will be good, so I can take pictures. The 40 pieces of lumber are cut for the chairs. I intended to have them constructed by this weekend, but alas. Real life hit. If everyone would get healthy again, maybe I could find a few minutes to finish them!

In other news...

We have been using the same piece of garbage Sauder entertainment center that Cody bought for $99 on clearance when we were dating. I hated it then, and I've hated it even more since it's been in my house ever since we married. Sauder is terrible furniture, but it's cheap and I guess you get what you can afford. Well the thing always held our 32 inch TV, until that thing died and we upgraded to a 42 in flat screen. Obviously that doesn't fit into the same cubbie as the old TV, so we now have the TV tower going. Know what I'm talking about? Not only do I hate our Sauder entertainment center, I hate even more the white trash look of a really nice TV sitting all the way on the top, with a huge gaping 35 inch hole down below where the old TV once resided.

I have been dying to get something different to use as an entertainment center for years. However, we have two significant problems.

#1- Money. Isn't this always the ruling factor? Everything I like is way too expensive.

#2- The wall it sits on. It is a very small area and worse yet, there is a blasted floor vent right below it. I DESPISE floor vents because they dictate everything with furniture placement! Right now, the Eye Sore sits right on top of the vent and we've never had air flow there, unless the whole unit is moved 18 inches away from the wall. Dear Hubs thinks there is nothing wrong with keeping it out from the wall. Yuck. He likes to live in a room as if it's perpetually being painted.

I have been browsing around at the type of piece I'd like as an entertainment center to house our big TV. As I looked around and realized what I liked, it dawned on me that these "entertainment buffets" are nothing more than a glorified dresser! $600 for something like that? I think not!

As much as I like the look of doors in front, the practicality of them with toddlers is non-existent. Doors are way too easy for little ones to open. And glass? I'd prefer to NOT expose that hazard and NOT display my unorganized mess behind them. But depending on the drawer type and hardware, it can be much more tricky for a little one to open and raid a drawer.

So I thought about it and thought about it. One day I was at a thrift store and I came across this dresser. The finish was HORRIBLE. The hardware was even more HORRIBLE. But the overall quality...impecible. The drawers were superb and even dove winged. Everything was super duper solid wood and in very good shape. The best part is the base because the front trim is elevated, as to allow air flow beneath it. All I need is a vent extender and problem solved! The opening at the bottom is about 2 inches, which is perfect. I always carry a tape measure with me just in case I come across a furniture piece that I am considering. So I measured it, and even better, the dimensions were exactly what I'd been looking for in every way.

Oh, and the price? $20. I had gobs of sand paper, primer, and even enamel and glaze in the colors I wanted.
Yes, I had all four kids with me and I still managed (with a lot of rope and help from the workers at the store) to get it home in the van in one perfect piece. You can't really tell, but it is pretty narrow in depth. That's one of my favorite things about it because it's not at all bulky like your typical dresser.
I really love the drawers. They are modern but old looking. Drawers are the absolute best thing to store DVDs in. Ha ha ha, and I am designating one of the drawers for diaper changing supplies because I do most diaper changes in the living room, but everythis is currently stored in plain sight in a basket. Tacky.
You can see the slightly elevated edge here. Can't believe I struck gold like this! I spent three days sanding and sanding this thing. It had a lot of knicks and scratches on the finish but after I was done, it was smooth as a baby's bottom. Then I primed it and painted it Forest Black from Behr.

Why do I not have an after picture? Because it's not complete. I still need to distress the edges all the way around and on the drawer fronts, then I need to glaze it. I did this right before Thanksgiving and well, time has not been my friend in months. The next thing I need to do it find the perfect hardware to go on it. We are still living with the Eye Sore in the family room until this gem is completed. When it's all done and I have the TV and stuff arranged like it needs to be, I'll for sure take "after" pics.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine Candy Cane Suckers

Do you have any leftover mini cnady canes from Christmas? I was shocked to find some hiding in the back of the pantry, so I had to make these cute suckers (taken from The Idea Room). They were really easy to do and I made them tonight while I was finishing up dinner. The simple steps allowed me to multitask!
Grease a cookie sheet VERY well. Lay down wax paper, and then grease the wax paper VERY VERY well. Unwrap your candy canes and lay them out like this around your sucker sticks. Make sure you leave space between cane tops like I did, because you will be bending them into shape.

Heat the oven to 350 and bake them for 3 minutes. It doesn't take long for the candy to soften, and it doesn't take long for the candy to bubble either! 3 minutes was just about right.

Enlist the help of another person because you have to work really fast in this step before the candy cools and hardens too much. Shape the soften candy to form a heart. No need to make it conform around the stick because the melted chocolate will meld it all together.
(I don't know why I picked the most crooked heart to take a picture of! The other ones looked better.) Do NOT remove them from the pan until they are 100% cool, and do NOT put them in the fridge to let them cool. The sudden cold on the hot candy will cause them to crack. Let them cool at room temp while you do something else, for about half an hour. Then carefully remove them from the wax paper.

Melt your chocolate pieces in a bowl. I used pink and red pieces from Wilton, about 1/4 a bag for each. It doesn't take much chocolate to fill in the candy cane hearts. Heat them in the microwave on 50% power for 90 seconds, stir, then heat again until you have a smooth texture.

Spoon the chocolate into the center of the hearts and smooth it out. Then sprinkle with something fun!
Now you can put them in the fridge to let them set up. In about half an hour you can eat them!