Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mudroom: Stage 2

Stage 1 can be found here. 

I will be honest guys, I am a little bummed by our progress in here.  I wanted to have more done today, but the weather is not cooperating.  It is just a case of me being impatient, but we have made a LITTLE progress in the mudroom. 

Last time you saw it, it looked like this...
...which was a vast improvement, but there was still a lot that we wanted to do to make this into a more welcoming entry as well as a functioning mudroom.  Last night after the boys went to bed, Matt had practice (he plays bass) so I got to work in the mudroom. 

I swept it all out twice, and then I vacuumed...
...and then I hosed it all down with a garden hose and used this degreaser/etcher by Valspar to prep the concrete. 
I would love to have been able to have pictures of this step, but I was working on my own, so...sorry about that! Basically you put the cleaner in a plastic watering can, and sweep it back and forth to cover small sections of the concrete.  If the cleaner DOES NOT fizz when it hits the floor - it isn't working.  I then scrubbed each section.  Next up, you just hose it all down, and let it dry overnight. I also scrubbed down all the cinderblocks and the window sills. 

And this is where Mother Nature is not working with me.  It rained last night, so the air is super humid here, and it just does not want to dry.  I really wanted to get the first coat on the floor while the boys were napping, but if your concrete is not totally dry, you really cannot paint it and expect your paint to last!
Half painted.
I did manage to get a coat on the half-wall though, and man! It is already so much brighter in there! A coat of paint really can make a huge difference!
So there you go.  Some underwhelming real time progress!

     A disappointed DIY-er

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tweaks in the Boys Room

The boys room was the very first room to come together, because it was important to us that they felt like they had their own stuff in their own space.  Moving is hard on little ones (and big ones for that matter), so that was our way of making the transition easier on them.

That said, after we plopped down their beds and dressers, we kind of stalled out in there for a little while.  I had accumulated a few little treasures that I wanted to hang up in their room, so one sunny afternoon last week I hopped to it.  First up was the wall behind their beds.
 It's okay, but it's a little bare, and much like our bedroom, it just needed something on the walls behind their beds.  When Matt's mom cleaned out their basement (when she gave us that cool trunk) she also found a few boxes of things that had graced Matt's childhood room, including a bunch of really cool baseball pennants. I loved the thought of them being used in our kids rooms too, so I hung them up!
Sorry for the crappy picture - it's a rainy Monday here in PA!
I was worried that they might be able to grab them, so instead of tacks or nails I just used double-sided tape to hang them.  So far that is working okay, but I have had to rehang the Boston one twice now, so I will need to figure out a better solution!

Next up, I turned my attention to this big ol' blank wall. 
I had a bunch of framed things that I wanted to hang up, and because my frames are all different sizes, I just did it gallery style.  I laid them out of the floor in a few different arrangements, and then I just went for it.
 A better blogger would probably show you how they made paper templates or something, but really? I just held them up and then pounded in a few nails.  I'm so not a perfectionist - I just know what I like.  I think people get intimidated by gallery walls because other people make them in to such a production.  I'm not saying it's wrong to measure it all out, but if that isn't your style, don't worry about it. Here is my take - if you like it, hang it up.  It will make you smile. 

The 'art' in the gallery wall is numbered so I can blabber about it a little...

1. A print that used to hang in my Nanny's farmhouse kitchen.  It was there for as long as I can remember and it shows two little boys saying "you been farming long?"
2. A print that my mom found at a thrift store of pioneers crossing the Rocky Mountains.
3. Luke's first haircut certificate.  As soon as I find a frame I am going to add Jack's as well.
4. A schooner sketch that I found at Goodwill for $3.
5. My miniature collection from when I was little.  I love that thing.
6.  The boys framed bow-ties

I left some room to the right for the gallery wall to expand as I find more treasures for their room.  I did try to take a picture so you could see it in context a little but better, but this was the best I got...

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Things You Do

I totally failed on this last month,  so this is sort of March and April rolled into one.

Jack: You started telling jokes.  Some of them don't make sense, and some of them are so ridiculous that I wonder where you learned them! For example : I was laying on the floor and you ran over and said "Mommy, do you like showers?" I had no idea what was going on so I said "Umm..yeah?" and you proceeded to spit ALL OVER ME.  It was gross, and naughty, and seriously SO funny.  I still want to know where you picked that up!
 Luke: Dude.  You have got MOVES.  All of the sudden you love to dance, and any time a tune of any sort comes on, you break it down!

Jack: You still love to watch Jeopardy, and you now have a favorite commercial.  It is this one...

...and I do not know why you love it, but you laugh SO hard when that kid says "I'll never forget that Accord". 

Luke: You, my friend, have a temper.  You are at a stage where you REALLY want to be independent, but you are a little to small to do everything that you want to do.  So if I hold your hand when you don't want me to?  WATCH OUT MOMMA.  Also - you bite.
Jack: You are very protective of your little brother.  A few days ago you thought you found a snake (it was a worm) but I was so impressed that you called for me and you held Luke away from touching it until I could come.  Luke was pretty angry - but you held on to him for all you were worth to keep him safe from the 'snake'.

Luke: You had your 18 month check up, and you are looking good! You are 26.4 pounds, 2ft. 7inches tall. 
 Boys:  You really love to 'help' Daddy and I when we are doing work around the house, and you were especially obsessed with our hammers, so we picked up two very small 4oz. hammers and safety goggles for you guys.  You both LOVE them, and because they are your first 'real' tools you are not allowed to play with them any old time you want, so when you get to build something you get SO excited.

Boys: You guys LOVE anytime we do anything 'special' for dinner.  Like in the above pic, it was Taco night, so I made a goofy sombrero centerpiece.  It is funny how even the littlest things like that can just make dinner into an event for you guys. 

I know there are just a ton of things that I am missing, you guys seem to change every day! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ghosts of Colors Past

I recently started pulling down some of the paneling in the hallway, and even though I know I will find the old paint colors - it still surprises me every time.  I wanted to make sure I threw up a quick post with a few details of some of the colors that we have uncovered, because I think this is one of those things that I will definitely forget!

At current count, we are up to eight colors of paint....
The traces of fuschia and blue were hidden under all the green paint and glue that we had to scrape off.  Oh yeah - remember that?  That was so much fun.  We still need to skim coat all of those walls, but we want to do it all in one big day - so that we can just get it over with.

But before we could even get to the paint, we had to go through the paneling.  At one point in the hallway there were eight layers of paneling.  Yes, EIGHT.
How do you like them apples ...er...patterns?

Although it is a lot of work, and it can kind of feel endless, I really really do think it is fun to uncover the phases this house has gone through.  Someday when I am long gone I wonder if someone will uncover some of my choice and think "what. the. heck?"

*Not pictured - five different kinds of carpet!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vintage Steamer Trunk

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law texted me a picture of some things that she had been storing in her basement and asked if I wanted any of them.  Well... you know me, OF COURSE!

There was this funky cool bench/trunk thing that caught my eye right away...
I loved the detail on the front, and even though the top needed some love, I thought it would be a great piece to have in our mudroom (you know...if I ever get around to finishing the floor). 

I started taking the seat cover off when I noticed something...

There were little bolts holding the seat on, which told me that the seat itself was an add-on at some point.  I got a bit excited at that point, because that meant this might actually be a real steamer trunk! I started pulling more of the padding off to find that this add-on  must have been done a while ago...because this? 
This is real horsehair padding! This is when I learned that horsehair smells like...well...horses.  And it is super messy. 

I decided to just go for it and see what was under that seat, and wouldn't you know?  The top is beautiful!
The trunk isn't in pristine condition, and it definitely could tell some stories.  In fact, I later found this Morocco label inside, and MAN! I wish I could know where this trunk has been. 
From what I can tell from online research, this style of steamer trunk was made around 1880-1920, and the patterned paper is probably an original feature.  I never knew that steamer trunks had such pretty decorative features. 

 Most of the original hardware and leather handles are long gone, but I am so excited to add this piece to our collection.  I love things like this that clearly have their own story to tell. If I wasn't worried that the boys would destroy it I would say it would be an awesome coffee table!

*For the safety conscious - yes, this is what I would call a 'finger chopper' so we will definitely be securing the lid so the boys can't open and close it.  I don't plan to put it in an area that they have free reign (they don't go in the mudroom alone) so it should be ok!

Have you ever inherited a cool piece like this from your family members? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, April 22, 2013

It Gives You Wings

That title is awful - but it was all I could come up with.  SO ANYWAY - when we last saw our bedroom I hadn't yet hung up anything in the realm of decorations or window treatments, because I still needed to paint a second coat on the walls.  I got the painting done on Friday, and fell in love with the color all over again.  That second coat made a big difference.

 This morning I suddenly got a wild hair to do some work in our bedroom, but I just don't have the money to buy little stuff when we still have so many big things to do.  I decided to root around through the things we already have to try to fill out our bedroom a little bit.

First I hung up a woven blind that we have had for over a year.  I then popped up some sheer off-white curtains that used to be in our old living room. 

I felt like the room looked very off balance this way - do you see what I mean?  Everything is kind of right in the middle with nothing to balance the sides out a little bit?  And yes - my kids are usually right where I am, no matter what.  In the pic above they are checking out my alarm clock:)

But back to the off balance bedroom.  I rummaged around through our picture frames and various wall crap, until I happened across the metal wings that we have had since our very first little apartment.  So up they went!

The boys were under the bed for this one!
I am sure there are many, many tweaks to come, but I gotta say - this room has come a long way - don't you think? From dark and cave-like...

to light and bright!  If you missed any of the steps to this point...here is one, and two.

I still want to figure out the right window treatment for the little windows (there are two) on the left wall of the room.  I am not sure if I should treat them like regular sized windows and hang long curtains?  Or something else?  Any suggestions??

I'm linking up with House of Hepworths! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Earth Day 2013

In keeping with past tradition, I wanted to make sure that the boys got to do a little something for Earth Day this year (I was clearly confused...it was actually three days later on the 22nd!).  Traditionally we have planted something, but since we just planted a little vegetable garden last weekend, I decided to keep this Earth Day project more in the arts and crafts realm.  (Also I forgot to get anything for it until we were grocery shopping and I suddenly remembered - oops).  I grabbed this little birdhouse for $4 and squeezed out some craft paints for the little dudes.
I spread some craft paper out for them to paint on, just to try to keep the paint off of the mudroom floor.  You can get a roll of this stuff at the Dollar store - and you can use it for everything from wrapping gifts to well...painting. 

I handed them their brushes and away they went!
I didn't intentionally give them only shades of blue, but they mixed the colors together and we ended with a pretty little blue birdhouse.
Happy Earth Day little birdies! We hope you love your little blue house!

Earth Days past: 2010, 2012

Are you doing any Earth Day projects? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Restoring Character

This is one of those posts that really only applies to very few people, but I am going to ask you to do me a BIG favor and pin the heck out of it.  I googled and pinterested and searched high and low and really couldn't find much on restoring antique brass door hardware, so maybe this will help someone else.  You probably already have all of the things you will need on hand, with the exception of a Magic Eraser.

So on to the actual post...We have this great door in the living/dining room.  It is SO pretty, but like a lot of older features it needed a little love.  One big area that I hoped to restore was these really great doorplates and knobs (complete with skeleton key!) that had been painted over at some point.  Here is one...
 And here is the other...
It's such a little detail, but all those 'little' details are what really give a place some character, at least in my opinion.
Like I said - I really couldn't find much on how to get the paint off of the brass without damaging the metal itself, and then my sister off-handedly mentioned that she thought she had read somewhere that you can boil them.

I figured 'what the heck' - so into the pot they went.
I used an old pot, I would not recommend using your everyday cooking ware to do this, and one thing I did NOT anticipate was the SMELL.  Urgh.  It really stunk up the house.  Afterwards I learned from Old Town Home that adding a few drops of dish soap can help with the smell. 

After about 15 minutes of boiling, I used a pair of tongs to check on my knobs - and wouldn't you know? It worked!
I also learned that at some point in this little house's history these knobs were also red.  I used the tongs to hold the fixtures and just used an old rag to wipe off the paint.
A word of caution:these suckers will be hot, don't use your fingers!
 Once all of the paint was off I saw that they really needed to be shined up, so I turned to a trusty old Magic Eraser.  Seriously..those things really CAN do it all.

A few minutes later I had them back on the door in all their antique glory!

So there you go - how to restore antique doorknobs and plates in less than an hour - without spending a dime. 

Can you help me out and pin this if you happen to have a DIY board?  Thanks!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

That Wall

You know the wall that you guys have seen like...I don't know...three or four times now?  This one?
Here is what it looks like head-on...
No seriously.  Our house really does look like this right now.  It's a slow process - but I know how great it will be in the end.

BUT ANYWAY.  On Sunday afternoon I was sitting at our table, staring at the wall (I do that) and Matt looked at me and asked what I was thinking.  'I'm thinking I want to see what is under that paneling'.  He shrugged - because he knows that when I get an itch to do something I just need to do it, and said 'go for it!'.

So I did.  And what do you think I found??
For the record - we shut off our electric for this one, since I had to pull out that light switch.
A solid sheet of plywood.  I was totally bummed when I first saw this, BUT WAIT! Do you see what I see?  Aqua plaster walls peeking through?  Original baseboards? It took me a good bit of work to get that wood off of the wall, but once I did I was pretty excited to find just a little bit more of the original details to love!
The color isn't really my jam, and we will need to patch and skimcoat this wall when we do the living room too, but I am just happy to know that this wall WILL be beautiful.  Someday in the distant future! Ha!  Also...I found a ghost of paneling past...
How about that pattern! I love that at some point - this was awesome to someone.  I think it's so fun to see the history of the house this way. 

And now for the before and progress (eh...it's a LITTLE bit of progress anyway)...
I do realize that that comparison is less than amazing - but I can see it in my head! Also - clearly - I do not bother picking up background toys for these comparison pics. 

Also also - finishing out the doorway that we enlarged is on our to-do list for THIS weekend.  I'm so excited to see that come to life!

So what do you say?  Can I call that progress?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tiniest Garden You Ever Did See

Jack begged to have a garden this year, specifically he wanted to plant carrots.  Now, I love the IDEA of a garden, but in execution we have never had a lot of success with vegetable gardens of any sort, aside from our little container garden last year. 

We have never been ones to learn from past mistakes though, so we jumped in with both feet again this year! On Saturday we headed to the store and picked up a few bags of topsoil and some gardening soil, and then we let the boys pick out a few seed packets.  We ended up with carrots, peppers, pole beans, zucchini, and...something else I think?  I can't remember? This is probably why our gardens never make it.
 BUT ANYWAY...our yard has a slope to it, so Matt built a little raised bed for our veggies and then we set about planting our seeds. 

We filled the bed with topsoil first, and then after that we added a layer of gardening soil.  We figured it was best to give these doomed little plants the best start they could have.  I tried to help the boys plant the seeds, and Jack did great actually putting the seeds in the little holes that I dug.  Luke...kind of scattered them around like he was feeding a chicken, so...you know...we'll see how that goes.
Then we gave them a good drink...
Luke looks so impressed doesn't he? 

We plan on building another little raised bed next to this one for the rest of the seeds, and we also will need to build something for our pole beans to climb, you know...if they actually sprout.

There is a chance, however, that we will have a bigger harvest than our first garden back in 2009, in which we reaped TWO WHOLE CHERRY TOMATOES.

Not even kidding you guys. Two.

How about you?  Are you planning any gardens this year? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Under the Boardwalk

I showed you step one of de-rampify the house in this post, but what I didn't mention is that there was still one more small ramp outside of the house that we lovingly referred to as the boardwalk.  We weren't 100% sure what was under this one, and since we knew that we would need a step there if we removed it, we didn't want to get ahead of ourselves with that project. 
Little did we know, that project was feeling very left out, so on Thursday night as Matt carried a box out of the house he went crashing through the boardwalk. 
That will move a project up the list pretty quickly, so bright and early on Saturday morning I tackled the boardwalk.  I wasn't quite sure how to go about it so I started at the bottom and took off a plank or two, and then I found that the wood was so rotted that all I had to do was give it a good heave with my brute strength (I'm kidding on that...I have spaghetti arms).
But look! Do you see what we found? 
There was actually a normal step under there to begin with! Phew! We did not want to go about building one on our own at this point.  We are planning on repainting all of the exterior concrete at some point, so it still looks a little less than impressive, but at least we don't have to wonder who will go crashing through next. 

We ended up needing to use a shovel to clean up all the leaves and dirt that had accumulated there throughout the years, and although the after isn't anything spectacular - it is progress.

Now...for the big question.  What color would you paint this door?

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