Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays!

So, I just wanted to drop in to say that we're still here. We've been so busy with a new baby plus the holidays that we just haven't had a lot of time for house stuff. I've done some bamboo clearing in the backyard, we painted the remaining room (we'll share that sometime), and we've done a few other piddly things but not much else has happened. Rest assured, though, that we will be back at it soon. We'll get back in the swing of knocking things off the list and sharing our progress.

In the meantime here's a little Christmas greeting from our family I whipped up in Paint (Yeah Boy).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I've got a Sinking feeling

Shortly after we moved into our house we noticed that our bathroom sink was a bit of a slow drainer. It didn't seem terribly serious, probably something that we could take care of with a little baking soda and white vinegar.

I kept meaning to give it that treatment...

It got worse...

Finally I did it, but either I just waited too long or it was too big of a job for that method because it didn't seem to do much for it at all. Now it seems like it backs up every time we use it and it takes forever to drain. I feel like the fact that it still ends up draining is a good thing but it's still definitely something that needs to be taken care of.

Finally I broke down and decided to disassemble the u-bend behind the sink to clean it. In preparation I read up on the process online didn't shave for a week to show the sink I was manly and meant business.

Now, if you've been following our blog here you've probably seen pictures of our bathroom before and might have even noticed how ridiculously close our pedestal sink is to the wall. In fact it's so close that the plunger apparatus has actually scratched the wall where it sticks out the back. (That's something I plan on fixing by cutting it shorter so it clears the wall without a problem)

I managed to shift the pedestal of the sink and open up the space slightly but I still couldn't fit a bucket under the pipes. Instead I ended up putting some plastic bags under the pipes with some towels under that. It actually worked well.

The process was really pretty simple. I just unscrewed both ends of the u-bend pipe.

Then it popped right off... and smelled foul.

Then I unscrewed the nut holding the plunger apparatus in and finagled it out of the hole.

Then I looked around for a toothbrush. Meredith reminded me that mine was looking a bit ratty so I downgraded it to cleaning tool. I picked up the u-bend and what do you know?

Nothing in it. Not a hair.

I tried brushing out the pipe going into the wall and got nothing so I stuck a coat hanger in there. Still nothing.

I stuck the toothbrush up the drain pipe and didn't feel any resistance so I got up and looked through it.
I could see right through.

Well crud.
There's no crud.

Which left me at a dead end.

I figured the next step was to get a plumber's snake and try that so a few days later I tried again with one I borrowed from my uncle. I had shaved my beard so it came as no surprise when I could only get the snake to go a couple feet down the pipe.

It was at this point Meredith decided to show the sink (and apparently me) we meant business and took over the job. She got the snake to go in it's full length, but when she pulled it back out this is all that came out:

Yup. Dirty water. That's it.

I decided to go down into the crawlspace to see if I could open it up down there and use the snake (in case it just wasn't reaching the clog). When I got down there this is what I saw (sorry for the bad picture):

Aside from the supply lines the only thing that could possibly go to the sink is that 4" iron beast on the left and it disappeared into the floor above. There was no way I could open that up and snake it. I think we've reached our first project that went above a DIY solution.


We're going to try a couple more things before calling a plumber, namely: I'm starting that sink on a vinegar and baking soda regimen (just in case repeating the process might loosen it), we're researching alternate declogging options (has anyone tried anything like this?), and if all else fails we might actually try some Drano. *gasp* I know, I know, harmful to the pipes, the environment, etc. Maybe we'll try an all natural one like this first (in fact I might try this before anything else), but if it doesn't work... so help me.

On the bright side, if we do have to call a plumber to get this fixed and they have to replace any pipes (yeah I know, this bright side is a stretch) I might see how much it would take to get them to move the toilet since that's one of the bigger (read: third tier) things I'd love to do, and it might be a little less if we can get it done with some other work. We'll see.

Has anyone else solved an issue like this? Did you have to resort to calling a professional or did you find a wonder product that took care of everything?

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Moment with Grayson

Grayson with a "drink drink".
  Our house has been busy with prepping for that moment when the new baby will arrive. We've still been doing some things around the house and we'll probably still share those things with you but the home improvement/blog side of things has been slowing down to allow us to focus on other areas. In fact, when the baby does come I can't promise we won't just take a week off.

I know Meredith usually posts these Grayson moments but I wanted to share one of my favorites.

The other day we were getting in the car and as usual I was buckling Grayson into his car seat. Meredith was sitting in the front flipping through radio stations trying to find some music he might like. As I set him in his seat he just looked towards Meredith and said, "I can lift you up. Show you where to be. Remember that?"


Meredith looks over, flips the radio back a couple stations and what song is playing? Safe and Sound, by Capital Cities. He immediately started bobbing his head to the music and we both busted out laughing.

In case you're unfamiliar with the song, the lyrics go:

I could lift you up
I could show you what you want to see
And take you where you want to be
You could be my luck
Even if the sky is falling down
I know that we'll be safe and sound
We're safe and sound

What kind of plans do you have for the weekend? I've got some more painting to do and I might crawl under the house! More on that later.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Workin' on Our Night Moves

....err, stand. Nightstand, that is. 

(I just couldn't resist the Bob Segar reference. And now I'm paying the price; that song has been stuck in my head all day.)

So, last weekend we were doing the thrift store rounds (I think my dream day involves picking up some coffee, a loaf of some kind of fruit and nut bread and trolling thrift stores....where I find an amazing vintage table/painting/ceramic rabbit, which leads me to a taping of Antiques Roadshow, where they breathlessly inform me that my furniture/art/tchotchkes is worth millions!

And then we would go get ice cream.)

While this particular Goodwill trip did not yield our million-dollar find, we did spot this pretty nifty nightstand.

Solid wood. Unfinished. $10. 


This is where our story takes a turn. Kind of like West Side Story. This first half is all singing and jazzy snaps. 

And then somebody stabs Russ Tamblin

And, as far as I'm concerned, that's where the movie ends. 

So, if you're like me, you may want to close this browser window and pretend this nightstand story has a happy ending, with Joseph and I dancing around it, ala The Jets in happier times. (Lots of jazz hands.)

I thought it would look great to paint the (poor, innocent) nightstand in the color I had originally intended for the closet.

Close to this:

I still maintain that this deep blue-green would look great with our light grey/yellow color scheme. 

But I'll probably never know. 

This time around, I thought the color I had looked at before (Peacock Tail by Behr) was a touch too blue, so I found something with heavier green undertones.


Tropical Skies by Behr

(Have you gathered that we have a fondness for Behr? We like that their basic flat and eggshell finishes are No VOC and their Kitchen and Bath is Low VOC.)

Because my husband is very supportive, and when I get a project in my head I'm crazy-annoying, the next day he was out front priming and painting our newest addition.

In hindsight, a primer intended for darker paint would probably have been better, but we just used what we had (in fact this step might be solely responsible for our troubles). After one coat, it looked like this:
Ah that sweet, sweet sponge painted effect.
And my face looked like this:

Yay facial expression reenactments!

Joseph said it looked like it belonged in a doctor's office circa 1992.

But a second coat, a second coat we assured ourselves, would fix everything. 

Back to painting. 

And, in the end, it looked like this:

And my face looked like this:

So, not the happy ending we had pictured, but not....terrible. (Kind of like the end of West Side Story. This nightstand is our Maria.)

It's definitely more teal than Juniper. It still has shades of the 1990s. But once we put the knob on and covered it with our's not bad. 

Its not great. 

But it's not bad. 

Maybe it'll grow on me. 

Maybe if I pair it with some faux potted plants, mottled gray carpeting and burgundy office chairs. 


Friday, September 6, 2013

Every Day I'm Shovelin'

So, as a brief, but incomplete, update to our Bushwacked adventure, we have cleaned out the old beds in front of the house, laid some mulch, and sectioned it off from the rest of our dirt yard with some 1x4's landscaping timbers.

I'm still surprised that nothing can look better than something. Though, I suppose when the "something"s are overgrown, scraggly, who-knows-what's-living-in-there bushes, it makes sense. (It also makes me want to CHOPDOWNALLTHETHINGS! 

....just for fun...)

Not that you really need a blow-by-blow of how things went down, but I took a bunch of pictures so you sit there and you look at them. And you'd better "Aww" and "Ooh" at the appropriate times! *brandishes hedge clippers*

(Can you tell it's getting close to my due date? I'm having some control issues. I apologize.) 

So, first we cleaned out the beds of all the yard junk that had accumulated there since we took out the bushes. 

Look at that pregnant lady raking. You go, Glen Coco pregnant lady. When you finish I bet someone will tell you to go spend the rest of the afternoon on the couch, rewatching Firefly and drinking tea.


Or you can dig and haul some rocks, like an old school convict. 

(Guess which one happened?)


But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Then we threw down some cardboard to act as a weed barrier, first measuring and cutting holes where (someday) we will plant replacement bushes. We then covered the holes with the cardboard we had cut out, figuring that was the easiest way to plant the bushes, but still keep weeds out in the meantime. 

After the beds were clear and the cardboard in place, the men (and boy) folk unloaded all the free mulch we'd received from our benefactor my grandmother (she'd ordered some for her flower beds, but they wouldn't deliver less than an entire truckload, so who reaped the benefits? We did! Hahaha-ha! But, really, we were very grateful and super excited.)

Special "Thank You" to my brother for helping us haul and unload.


In order to keep all that pesky mulch from  escaping and running amok all over the yard, Joseph put in some 1"x4"s.


Digging trenches. 
Some shanties were sung.  


Well, almost. Mostly, it still looks like dirt. But it's our dirt, that we put there.

We also, as I mentioned before, used some of the mulch to redo the tree beds. We dug up the old landscaping rocks, raked out the beds (in an attempt to make them slightly more level. Ha!), threw down some brown paper bags, filled in with mulch and put the stones back in to hold it all together. 


And just for comparison, here's a before shot:

And here's an after:

I kinda like it. For now. (Oh, yeah, see that skinny tree in the middle of the yard? We also took that down. And we liked it. You other trees better watch out.)

Oh, before I forget, I have a question.

We noticed one of the shutters on our "picture window" (I think that's what you call it....the big, front window), had started to bow. (They're not nice shutters, just some kind of plastic.) So, being the impulsive, pregnant lady that I am, I decided it had to come down. Actually, we had discussed whether or not to take down the shutters, I just decided I wanted to do it nooooow! (Veruca Salt and I are kindred spirits)

Now our window has one shutter. 


So, my question is: to take the other one down or put the first one back up. The logical part of me feels like tiny shutters on a window that size look silly. They don't function. But the smaller window on the other side still has black shutters. Our eventual plan (right now) is to paint the door yellow and replace the shutters (on one or both windows, depending on the verdict of whether or not to leave the big one shutter-less) with something that's a little higher quality that also spans the full height of the window.

I think we're a little concerned that no shutters might make the house look naked (and not in a classy renaissance painting way), but, as a friend suggested the other day, once we put bushes in, that may help. 

So, I ask you, shutters or no shutters? 

That is the question. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Our Personal Painted Pallet

So, everyone's got one right? It seems the whole DIY/Blogging culture has embraced pallets as the perfect source for building and decorating. To be honest I'm not a big fan of making furniture out of pallets. Most of the ones I've seen are dirty, broken, full of nail holes, etc. They always seem like way more work than they're worth. Frankly, I wonder where people are getting all of these pristine looking pallets I see online.

That being said my wife ran across a piece of art that someone had made (sorry, but we lost the link) that we both thought was really nice. It was a pallet that someone had painted and hung on the wall, and it looked pretty darn cool. Soon after we saw it I ran across an adorable little pallet at work that was too small to be any good so I snapped it right up.

All I had to do was pull these feet off and it was ready to go!

Look at that. I couldn't believe my luck on this pallet. It's one of those pristine ones!

My wife set about painting it (she's the real artist, I just pretend sometimes and she's nice enough to indulge me). The quote is from Inevitable by Anberlin.

It sat on top of our dresser for a while.

Lookit that adorable wittle owl!
 Once we were ready to hang it, I grabbed some strong wire and some eye-hooks. I screwed the eye-hooks into the support pieces opposite of each other and strung the wire through them.

Grayson helped color the back.
 We glued felt onto the bottom of the support pieces so they wouldn't scuff up the wall

I tried looking up how to hang a pallet, but only found one or two links actually dealing with hanging it as artwork (most of the results were for creating a pallet wall which is cool but just slightly different). The one I did find (here) talked about using a special bracket so it would be, you know, really safe.

I didn't go that route.

As far as pallets go ours was pretty small, so I wasn't too worried. I've seen pictures bigger than it. I happened to have some pretty big nails in my tool box and I figured one of them should be more than strong enough to hold it so long as I made sure to nail it into a stud. To find the stud I knocked along the wall until it didn't sound hollow. Then I hammered the nail in.

On about the third tap the nail sunk deep. I had definitely missed the stud.

I knocked on the wall and discovered that the wall sounded even less hollow about 4-5 inches to the right. So I hammered the nail in there. And missed again.

At this point I thought there had to be a way to figure out where this thing was that didn't involve nailing more holes into the wall or buying a stud finder. I know my studs are 16" on center so all I had to do was find one stud and I could measure from there. I did a quick internet search that revealed that I was completely overlooking the obvious. Directly below where I was hammering was an outlet. Outlets are always attached to studs so all I had to do was remove the outlet cover to see which side the stud was on. Lo and behold that stud was right in between the two nail holes I had made. I nailed it in, hung the pallet, and presto changeo, WALL ART!

What do you think?

Friday, August 30, 2013

O Grayson! My Grayson...

Happy Friday!

I am so incredibly pschyed out of my mind for this three-day weekend. After a week of not much on my end in the DIY/Home Improvement department, I'm looking forward to finishing up some projects that have been "in-progress" for a little too long. (If you're not actually making progress on something, does it still count as "in-progress"?) 

I feel the tide turning a little bit from "I must paint all the things!" to "Let's settle down a little bit and get ready to have this baby." But I'm not giving in yet! It's been wonderful to channel my nesting/nervous/excited energy into our home, I feel like it's made this pregnancy a very joyful, and quick, time. 

On that note, I wanted to share a cute moment from earlier this week. Monday we had our "home visit" from our midwives. (We are planning another Home Birth for this little one. We loved the experience we had with Grayson (even though, due to complications, we ended up going to the hospital; which is one of the things that makes us comfortable with a homebirth: if things get a little hairy, you have devoted, experienced, wonderful midwives focused only on you and your baby and they can say, "We need to go to the hospital.") and we are so excited to bring our little girl into the world in the home that we've put so much love and energy into over the past few months.)

So, during the "fun part" of our appointment (listening to the baby's heartbeat, feeling what position she's in) Joseph, myself and the midwives were in the bedroom and something (I wish I could remember what it was!) made us all cheer.


Grayson: (comes running in from the living room, arms raised) She popped out! 

Oh, I wish. 
Though, I'm sure when she's ready and does "pop out" there will be cheering. I hope Grayson is just as excited to really meet his little sister as he is about the idea of her. (He'll probably be interested for about five seconds before remembering the very important game he was playing with his Nana (my mom, who is also attending our birth so that Grayson has someone "just for him" to meet his needs in case Joseph or I can't.) 

Grayson, the budding photographer, took this pregnancy portrait.

Well, that took kind of a different turn. Hope it wasn't too off-track. I just thought the Grayson bit was so cute I wanted to share it and, of course, I didn't know how without also doing some potential over-sharing. I promise we will return to our regularly scheduled painting/mulching/whatever-silly-thing-we-decide-to-tackle-next blog A.S.A.P. 

Speaking of which, anyone have any good tips for dealing with a popcorn ceiling? We've looked at how to take it off, but it seems very messy and like a lot of neck-breaking work. (Which we're not against.) I was wondering if anyone had ever heard of covering it? Or just had any tips about taking it down? 

Have a lovely (long!) weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Five Little Pieces

Sometimes I feel so focused on the Big House Projects (the porch needs painting, pulling up the bushes, replacing ALL the blinds with real curtains so the house doesn't give off that "hospital" vibe) that I feel overwhelmed and I find myself forgetting that it's little things that make a house feel like home. So, I thought I would turn the spotlight to a few little things that are making me happy right now.

Our Ropey Grey Hassock

I call it a hassock because I can't bring myself to call it a pouf with a straight face. (Even though it's probably a more accurate term.) I think someone suggested "tuffet", which might catch on... we do have enough spiders...
But I love this hassock/tuffet's texture (I find myself patting it often, it's our resident pet, for now.) and I feel like the chain weave keeps it from being too precious, I think. Also, it's gray. Have I mentioned how I love gray?
Could you just tell?

Robin's Egg Pie Plate

This pie plate arrived a couple of rainy Saturdays ago as a surprise from my Mom. (The hassock was also a gift from my Mom. Are you sensing a theme yet? You will. You...will...Actually, my Mom just has great taste, which is not really a theme...)
It was just the thing to brighten up our house and the dreary day. I bought some frivolous oranges (frivolous because I didn't think anyone here really liked oranges. Grayson proved me wrong by eating two and a half the afternoon we brought them home.) and now this is one of my favorite pieces. 

Old School Rug


Remember these rugs? I think they had a "moment" in the early nineties. We had a huge multi-colored one growing up and my Grandmother had one just like this one: 


Scratch that. It was this one. 

Maybe my Grandmother is trendier than I, but she decided she was over this rug several years ago and it found a new home. In my parents basement. 

Joseph and I have been itching for a living room rug, but we were having a hard time finding something 1) In our price range (read: el cheap-o) and 2) not an oriental style. 
Then it occurred to me that something in the muted colors of our living room reminded me of my Grandmother's house (in a nice way) and *lightbulb* I remembered this rug. 

It may not be the be-all and end-all of rugs for us, but you can't beat it for the price (Free!) and the sentimental aspect. 

Cross-Stitch Owl

How cute is this little guy? I think he's "twhoo-twhoo" cute. (Get it? Cause he's an owl! Ha! Let's never speak of this again.)

(Side note: did you know when you type "twhoo" auto-correct thinks you might have meant "region"?)

Anyway, back to this guy! Joseph cross-stitched him back in the day, when he was six or seven (all together: Aww!) and we found him as we were unpacking a box of keepsakes. It was love at first sight. For me. Joseph wanted to pack him back up and not speak of it. But I couldn't do that! I fiddled around for a while trying to find the right place to hang him (he's tiny, about 2"x3", so putting him up on the wall just looked kind of dinky). Finally, it occurred to me that I could just hot glue some magnetic strips to the back and, ta-da, adorable Owl magnet to gaze at while I fix dinner. (And to judge me while I eat ice cream from the container at 3:00 in the afternoon. Only he doesn't, cause he's an understanding owl.)

Grayson's Art

My last favorite thing (actually, that's a lie, I have new favorite things everyday. I'm like Oprah.) is something Grayson and I did last week. We were having one of those challenging toddler days (Grayson: " I want to take all the clean, folded laundry and decorate the floor with it! Hahahaha!" Me: *sees the last hour of her life turned to nothing*)

The solution for this was obvious: give him some paint. 

Because, why not?

This actually turned out to be a ton of fun. We spread newspaper aaaalllll over the floor and got out the water colors and the drawing pad. 

Oh, the joy.  

I forget sometimes how much fun it is to watch a kid create (and, I suppose, they're always creating. It's just easier for me to appreciate when it's a craft and not my clean clothes.) 

And it was just watercolor, so even when our hands looked like this:


It was okay. (Which is exactly what I kept chanting to myself. It's okay, Meredith, it's okay.)

And Grayson made me this:


Which I think is absolutely beautiful and shows real artistic talent. But, you know, we're not going to push him. 

I slapped that first real piece of kid art in a frame as soon as it was dry and did what any self-respecting mom would do: 

I put it on the fridge.

So, those are a few of the little things I've been focusing on lately when things seem to be spinning out of control. Do you guys have any little things in your home that never fail to make you smile? 

Can I borrow them sometime?