Whew! We have been super busy getting our dining room into a usable state for Christmas. It has been two weeks since my last update, but we're nearly there!
I got all of the dark wood trim painted with the usual four coats to cover the wood, and at the same time I also painted below the existing chair rail in semi gloss white.
And this weekend my husband gave me my Christmas present: picture frame wainscoting! Originally I just wanted us to build our own (Centsational Girl has a great tutorial), which made my husband a whole lot more reluctant for something he didn't really feel would add that much to the room. So when we saw that it would only be about $60 more to buy the pre-made frames, saving us about a day and a half of time, he was happy to splurge on them (and get out of getting me a gift for Christmas too!).
Installing the frames, while I worked on cutting in for the wall paint above the chair rail.
Just wanted to share a quick update on what we've been doing to turn our empty dining room into a usable room by Christmas!
Last month I shared our vision for the dining room and some inspiration photos. Well, since then I've been concentrating on building the dining room table, which is a knock off of the Salvaged Wood Beam Table from Restoration Hardware. I used plans from Ana White (although my table is a foot longer than the plans) and also referenced the build notes and tips on Shanty 2 Chic to make sure I was doing everything right. This was only the second piece of furniture I've built by myself, and although it's not 100% perfect (mostly due to warped wood), I'm really happy with it so far.
I won't go into a huge amount of detail on the build process, because it is covered really well in Whitney's post that I linked to above. Just a few progress shots of the build...like the cut 4x4s for the legs. Fun fact about 4x4s in our area, Lowes and Home Depot don't stock untreated 4x4s for some reason. So I had to call around to multiple lumber yards to find one that had the untreated 4x4s. And then when we got there, there were only about 10 to choose from, so I had to make do with the least-warped ones I could find.
Even with some warped wood to deal with though, the frame came together pretty easily. Note that I said easily, not quickly! I am still super slow at carpentry, especially when it comes to screwing in large pocket screws--my arms and shoulders were sore for days. In this picture you can see that I followed Whitney's suggestion to use Gorilla Tape instead of clamps on the diagonal pieces, which worked wonderfully. However, one place where I did deviate from the plans is I flipped the table base upside down to screw the diagonals in from the bottom, instead of down through the top, as it was in the plans. I wanted to make sure that I had no screws showing that I'd have to patch with wood filler, because I'm still having issues in a few spots from the wood filler on the coffee table I finished last month (which I'll get around to posting about at some point).
And the completed table base, other than the side 2x4s that the table top will be screwed into. Yes, our garage is a mess. Just keeping it real, building furniture isn't a very clean and tidy activity!
I haven't done a recipe post for a while, even though I've still been trying new things and cooking almost every night of the week. But making food look good enough to photograph is usually too much trouble, especially on a week night.
But today I wanted to share two quick things, since it doesn't really matter so much what they look like!
First, a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini. A few months ago I tried one at a local restaurant, and I've been craving it ever since. So I set out to figure out their recipe, and it turns out it is incredibly simple and just as yummy as I remembered. Only three ingredients, Cake flavored Vodka (my first time trying it, and it is pretty amazing. Totally tastes like cake.), Grenadine and pineapple juice.
For our in-progress dining room makeover, I've been contemplating using chalk paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint!) on the side chairs before I reupholster them, and on the yet-to-be-found thrift store buffet. I've heard really great things about the paint, like how durable it is, and how it sticks really well to furniture, meaning you don't have to spend hours sanding and priming.
But since the paint is on the expensive side, I was a little hesitant to jump right in with no experience. Luckily, there are chalk paint workshops offered all over the country (found here), and so I attended one on Tuesday night at a charming antique and thrift shop, Two Old Birds. I was so excited to get to try out the paint without a commitment, and learn some tips and techniques along the way!
The class was limited to eight people, and lasted a little over three hours. We used wooden baseboards to paint our samples on, which gave a nice flat surface, as well as some curved detail to work with the different effects.
We started with just a basic layer of paint on half of one of the boards, as the foundation for a two color distressed finish. Nothing special here, just regular old painting, but I really did like the oval Annie Sloan brushes we got to work with.
Next, we painted the other side, where we were trying out a smooth, more modern finish. For the smooth finish, you first dip your brush in water and shake it off, before putting it in the paint, to thin things out a little. We also learned that using synthetic brushes instead of natural bristle brushes tend to leave fewer brush strokes.
October has certainly been a month of busy travel for us. We kicked off the month with a long weekend in Albuquerque, my husband had to travel to L.A. for work and I just got back from a girls trip to Austin.
But before too much time slips away, I wanted to share some of the beautiful scenery from Albuquerque. My husband's parents just moved there in late spring, and when we found out that our good friends from Washington State were going to be there visiting their family, we decided it was the perfect excuse to make our first trip out. And it was really a gorgeous place; so much more scenic than I was imagining the desert to be!
First, a hike in the foothills on a cloudy evening, near my in-law's new house:
The coffee table I'm building is coming along nicely. In fact, I'm hoping to finish it this weekend! We just need drawer faces, the top, wood filler, sanding, staining, polyurethane and drawer hardware.
But of course, since I have project ADD, while working on the coffee table I haven't been able to think about anything except the next project, our dining room. We are going to be hosting Christmas dinner for the first time ever, since we do the every-other-year holiday trade off between my family and my husband's family. This year it's Christmas with my husband's family, and since my BIL lives in North Carolina too, it just makes sense for his parents to come out here, rather than all four of us travel there.
So that means we need at least a dining room table, since currently we have a pretty empty dining room.
And I finalized the plans this past weekend, so wanted to share.
I know, I've totally slacked off on blogging this summer. I think I have house project ADD or something, I can't seem to fully finish anything enough to have pretty pictures for a full "reveal" blog post. But I'm owning up to it. Fully admitting I've got a problem, because without fail, halfway through a project I'm already daydreaming about the next one, and lose motivation to finish what I'm working on so I can move on to the next exciting thing.
So. Now that you guys know I have a problem, here's a sort of 'Friday Fly By' post to share what I've been working on, but not shared yet because it's not finished!
First, our garage makeover project. This is like 90% done. Although I kind of fear I'll never get around to cleaning up everything for nice "after" photos. But since I last posted about the garage, I've built and painted this firewood storage cart.
(Built = making it up as I went along until it looked roughly like I wanted in my head)
But I still haven't gotten around to painting and attaching the top of it, to make a shelf space on top for storing citronella candles.
These photos are from the hikes we took near Lake Lure, NC. First, up, Chimney Rock State Park, which was only a few minutes drive from where we were staying. After a winding drive up the mountain, we parked near the base of Chimney Rock.
Another vacation post! We've been traveling a lot this summer, and have several more trips planned over the next few months. But before fall officially begins this weekend, I wanted to share a quick recap of our trip to beautiful Lake Lure.
Lake Lure is in the NC mountains, about a four hour drive away from Raleigh, and where a lot of the scenes in Dirty Dancing were filmed. We spent four fun days in a house we rented right on the lake, hiking, swimming, canoeing and relaxing.
Time for the second part of our vacation recap, the activities!
As I'd mentioned yesterday, this was not a typical vacation for us. Usually we I try to cram as much as possible into our trips, since I've got the mind set of 'who knows if/when we'll ever return, so better experience it all the first time.' But this time my husband wanted a mostly relaxing vacation, which is what prompted me to pick Couples resorts, since not only do they offer all of the pampering and laying around on the beach doing nothing that you could want, they also have a lot more activities included in the price than any of the other All Inclusives I looked at.
One of the first included activities we did was a catamaran cruise down the coast. We knew ahead of time to make our reservation at check in for the cruise, which was a good thing because it was already completely booked for the first three days of our trip.
The boat trip lasts about three hours, getting back to the resort just after sunset. Well, if we'd had a sunset that night, but as you can see, we ended up going on a cloudy day.
Before summer completely slips away, I wanted to post about our 10 day Jamaica trip that we took to celebrate our third wedding anniversary!
We stayed at Couples Swept Away in Negril, and it was an absolutely wonderful place to experience the Caribbean for the first time. It was our first real stay at an All Inclusive (although we did 2 nights at an AI in Puerto Vallarta in 2009, but weren't there long enough to really take advantage), and it was a nice change of pace to be able to just leave your wallet in the room safe. Couples resorts don't even allow tipping, since they have an employee bonus system built into their room prices, so it was really a cash free resort.
So, we had a kind of crazy experience on Saturday afternoon!
I was standing in the kitchen, assembling chicken kabobs about an hour before friends were coming over for dinner, just as a thunderstorm rolled in. We had been watching the weather radar all day, to make sure we would still be able to grill outside, and it was looking like the storm would pass over in about an hour, followed by relatively clear skies.
We don't tend to get much wind at our house, but when we do during storms, it's a pretty neat sight to see all of the trees in our woodsy backyard waving in the wind. And we have the typical-of-a-wooded-yard large amount of sticks and branches that fall when it's windy out.
But as I was prepping dinner on Saturday during the beginning of the thunderstorm, I saw out our kitchen window a larger than normal branch fall on our clothesline.
Photo of the downed clothesline taken from the deck the next day.
The branch startled me, but wasn't a huge deal, especially since I'd been wanting my husband to take down the clothesline (which we'd inherited when we bought the house, had never used, and referred to as the "zip line" since it ran from the side of the house to a tree) forever.
This fallen branch was just the opening act though. But it prompted both of us to go over to the sliding glass doors to peer more closely out at the storm for a minute. Putting us in prime location for the main event, watching with mouths agape as an over 50 foot tree fell into our yard!
Yes, this giant log below is what we got to witness falling toward our deck. And yes, we definitely heard the tree fall, it was loud, and took out several smaller trees on its way down!
I've recently gotten back into taking ~2 mile walks/jogs around our neighborhood a few evenings a week, just to stretch my legs, but not do anything too strenuous in the heat of summer. And while on one of my jaunts around the neighborhood, I was inspired by a neighbor's simple-but-cute mailbox flower bed. So I made my own in our yard!
Still no lounge chairs (final prototype version 3 is built though, we just need to finish the garage project to have room to build the rest), still no new outdoor dining table (also planning on building), but we finally agreed upon and ordered some dining chairs!
This past weekend we made good headway with some of the storage solutions we're putting in our garage. Starting with buying three shelving units (pictured without the shelves installed yet). Each of the five shelves is rated to hold 800lbs, so even though we'll likely never need to hold that much, at least we know we've got really sturdy shelves to work with!
Since it seems like I'm ending up painting just about everything that goes into our garage makeover, I spray painted two of the three shelves, so they wouldn't blend into the grey wall color so much. The third, unpainted, shelving unit is just going in the workroom, which isn't painted (or even drywalled, for that matter), so I wasn't worried about it blending in.
Let me tell you, these used a lot more spray paint than I thought they would! Four cans of semi gloss just on the slim metal frames.
Saturday started off with a fun game: see what random things around our garage we could find to stack to the right height to hold up our old cabinet from above our kitchen peninsula. After about 10 tries we finally found a combo of items that worked to prop the cabinet up on to get it about 18 inches taller than where the top of our workbench would be, since it was way too heavy for either of us to hold it by ourselves while the other one attached it to the wall.
But once we got it into place and level, it wasn't too much work to find four studs to attach the cabinet to. It is already looking better after I painted it last week, but we still have to put the cabinet doors on it. It was much easier to mount it with the doors off though!
The breakfast nook is one (of many) places we still haven't really done anything to in our house. It's a somewhat narrow space between our kitchen and family room, and other than set up a card table, some old chairs and stools when we moved in, we haven't touched it since.
But because I'm going to be stealing the old ugly bar stools for our garage makeover, it was high time we upgraded to new stools. Just about anything would be better than the old ones that we inherited in college, that were similar looking but not a matched pair, and had dog teeth marks from an old roommate's dog.
I'd had my eye on these Tabouret Metal Stools from Overstock for a while now though, so when the time came, these were in my shopping cart in a matter of seconds.
So apparently I only blog on Wednesdays now? I guess that's what happens when I stay up late painting every night!
We've been making some good progress on our garage makeover project though, and are going to start building workbenches this weekend. Last weekend we spent all of Saturday cleaning and organizing things, with a trip to the dump to get rid of a ton of useless junk. And we got everything away from the walls so I could start painting.
Guess who has a super awesome husband who fixed their broken computer! :)
It's running pretty slowly, but it works! Makes me so happy, and fingers crossed it will limp along for another 6 months until I'm ready to buy a new computer. Sadly my Jamaica pictures didn't get backed up for some reason, although I still have them on my SD cards, just lost all of the time going through them and deleting duds so I can post a reasonable amount. So instead, I'm going to jump right into posting about our garage makeover plans!
I'm pretty excited about this next project too. Surprisingly, in fact. I mean, it's just a garage, how exciting can it be? But it's going to be so refreshing to not see unorganized piles of tools everywhere, and it means after we finish, I can finally start building all of the furniture I've been eying on Ana White's site!
This past weekend we didn't get much done, with my husband being laid up with a bum ankle. But that just meant I had lots of time to finalize our garage plans, make the 'to get' list, lay out the schedule (WBS to any project management nerds out there :) ) and go on an online shopping spree for the majority of what we need. It's looking like it will take us about 4 weeks to get everything done...yes, I know I'll be eating my words later, since house projects always take longer than expected. But I gotta start with a plan before it can go off track, haha! We're also looking at a budget of about $1500 + lumber for the workbenches, which actually is pretty good considering how much we're cramming in there.
But enough talk, let's see the plans! First, a look at the general floor plan, to see what we've got to work with:
Welp, my laptop is apparently dead. It has refused to boot up all week, even though I keep trying every few hours. Cue sad face. :(
I have so much to blog about, including our trip to Jamaica and finally finishing our fireplace facade build, but I really try not to do personal stuff on my work laptop, and typing this on my Kindle Fire HD is not very conducive to blogging, especially since I can't easily get my photos on my Kindle. Luckily just by chance I did a big hard drive back up on Sunday, so at least I didn't lose much!
I'm still holding out hope that my husband might be able to fix it with some tips I found online about soldering the power source back to the motherboard, since I'm not really in the mood to spend money on a new laptop, or learn how to use Windows 8 at the moment. I hear it's a lot better with a touch screen, but touch just seems awkward to me on a laptop, with constantly having to reach over the keyboard. I might not have much choice though, if my old laptop can't be fixed soon--I'm already having withdrawals and it's only been a few days!
In other news, my husband sprained his ankle playing soccer on Tuesday. We think it's sprained anyway, not that he's actually been willing to go to a doctor yet. So yesterday I went out and bought him crutches, so we could still use our tickets to see Dave Chappelle last night in downtown Raleigh. This was the second time we'd seen him live, and he was just as funny was he was back in 2004. Fun fact, the first time we saw him it was for the taping of his live show at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and you can see us a couple of times when they show the audience in the video, since we were sitting in the fifth row. Last night we were only in the 10th row, but it was still a great show.
His ankle might put a damper on our weekend plans though, since we were planning on kicking off our garage makeover on Saturday. We've decided that tackling the garage just makes the most sense to work on next, since I have all of this furniture I want to make, and we're constantly in and out of there when working on all our other house projects. And as you saw in my last house tour, it definitely needs some help in the organization department!
Together can never be close enough for me
Feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I'll wear out the words I love you
And you're beautiful
Now that the wait is over
And love and has finally shown her my way
Today and every day
I have a deep love for shoes, anything with garlic on it, and all things DIY. Just a West Coast 30-something adjusting to life in the South with my husband and 3 kitties. To pay the bills I'm a marketing communications professional, but my true love is crafting and working on decor projects. And now that we are homeowners, I love taking on bigger renovation projects side-by-side with my husband, as we strive to make our new house a home.