Sunday, November 15, 2015

Welcome back! Hang up your coat and stay awhile.

Yeah, it's been way too long. Life, ya know?!

So, I'll pick up where we left off.

Remember this? The boards I was prepping for two separate projects?
Well, I'm proud to say that I did complete my mudroom coat hangers about a month after my last post. And I have a couple of tips that I learned the hard way when that I would like to pass on to you.

#1  If you are staining wood, make sure to do it in a more dust-free environment than a 100-year-old chicken coop. I would suggest a cleaner area, like a garage or basement. Unfortunately, my wood stain picked up dust, hairs, and a bug or two. What to do? After it is dry, sand those areas down and reapply stain.
 #2  Don't be too eager to finish you project. When the can says to allow hours of drying time...they aren't joking. In my hopes of making quick work of this project, I applied the second stain too soon and it left the stain tacky to the touch for a very long time (See pic below. The dark areas are the tacky spots.). I had to Google the remedy for this because I was in all new territory. The solution I came across was to wipe up the excess with paper towels, lightly sand the wood again, and then reapply the stain...allowing the stain to have enough time to dry correctly this time. Fun, right?
#3  Buy a great stud/electrical finder. I bought an inexpensive stud finder at Home Depot that also alerts you if it detects electrical wiring. I never though of that particular hazard until it beeped at me multiple times whenever it swiped it near the stud. Apparently, the wiring was attached to the sides of the studs. I would have hated to drill into the wall and found out the hard way that there was live electrical wiring in there too. So, being careful to measure over and over again, I marked where the stud was and my best estimate of its center. Unfortunately, after many pilot holes, I realized that since this area of the house was a late add-on, the builder installed the stud supports in a bit of a maze. So, instead of a stud running the whole height of the wall, it would run about halfway down to a horizontal stud, then they would finish the support further over. Picture how a bricklayer would layer the bricks, overlapping. That's what this framework was like. And this is what my wall was looking like.
So, after much drilling, I found two good studs to drill anchor holes into. When hanging something like a coat hanger that will probably be holding a good amount of weight, you want to anchor into a stud so that the object won't just fall off the wall when the screw you only put into the drywall can't support all the weight. Thankfully, the exploratory holes were going to be completely covered when I put up the rack. Otherwise, I would have filled the hole with spackling and spot painted them.

As you can see in the picture below, I already measured out how many hooks I wanted, where I wanted them on the board, and pre-drilled the holes for the hooks. Since I don't want the screws I use to attach it to the wall to show, I did not attach the hooks yet. Instead, I placed the board in alignment with the studs and screwed the board to the wall, right where the hooks will hide the wall screws.
After the board was attached to the wall, I screwed in the hooks. And that brings me to my next tip...
#4  Use a level. I just eye-balled where I wanted the racks to end up, but when I went to mark the spots where to drill for the stud holes, I used a laser level. I simply marked where the first hole would be and then turned on the laser. I kept the bubble centered in the level and marked my next spots for holes on the laser line.
This project was a lot simpler than I thought it would be (minus the many, many pilot holes) and makes it much easier to hang things up as we come in the door, instead of on couches, counters, and chairs.
Keeping it real moment: The mudroom doesn't look nearly this neat now that winter is here and more items are used on a daily basis. But, the racks are holding up well and I'm still loving them. Also, because we had to replace a large section of the wall when we redid this mudroom (months before this project), there was a spot where the drywall texture isn't completely flat. This meant that the right side of the lower coat rack isn't 100% flush against the wall. But it's close enough and you can't tell at all. 
If we waited for perfection, nothing would ever get done. Instead, we Simply Do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

And now for something more beautiful...

I can't leave you with the disgusting last image of my trash can mess any longer. I need to share something beautiful. So, I give you my current projects...aka the reason I haven't posted sooner.
 First, the wood project. These are actually for two projects. The longer boards are to replace the seating around our fire pit in the back yard. The original boards were so old and weathered that they splintered and my son finished off the job with a small sledgehammer, as seen below.
The plan was to simply stain and polyurethane some new boards and screw them into the previously utilized stumps. However, if I do this, it will be temporary because I have convinced myself to go ahead and find plans to build a prettier base/legs for the benches. Just need to find the time, plans, and patience to do more staining and poly on the legs.

The second half of this project is the shorter boards. They are the backing for the new coat hooks I'm putting up in our mudroom. And it's about time...the mudroom was redone months ago. So, with the winter months coming up, we will have an organized dumping ground space for our coats and bags.
Next, is painting my living room. I have been putting this off for two years a while because of the area you can see in the back of the pic. That area above the stairs. Yeah, I will need to use a ladder on the stairs to reach the high areas and detailing. And I have a thing with heights. A fear thing. I know I probably won't fall, but whenever I have to use the ladder to get high, especially on these stairs, I break out in a cold sweat and get really shaky. Even the thought of it is a bit much.

So, I have decided to break this project into sections. I am doing one half of the room, then the other half, THEN the stairs section absolutely last. This is also to help my husband not be too overwhelmed with the chaos that all of this brings.

I will post final pics of both these projects when completed for a final reveal. Until then, be glad you don't have to stare at my trash anymore. I know I am.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Talking Trash Today

I have a dirty secret...under my kitchen sink.
It's gross, embarrassing, stinky.
Brace yourself.
It's where I keep my trash can.
I admit that I haven't cleaned this out much at all since moving in a couple of years ago. And it's been made worse by a few under-sink leaks that are now remedied. But you know what you get when you mix trash and water?  A sticky, stained, warped mess.
I had to tackle it so I wouldn't have to cringe and hold my nose every time I opened it to throw something away.
First, hot water and a scrub brush. I scrubbed and wiped the bottom, sides, doors, and top until all the ickiness was gone. But, I was still left with some stains, the warping, and now some spots where the paint was rubbed off.
Second, drying as much as possible.
Third, pulling out some spare stick-on vinyl tiles that were left by the previous owners in the basement. I eye-balled it on measurements by laying out the whole tiles first, then marking on the others with a pencil where to cut for notches and measurement.
In the end, not perfect, but a far sight better than what it was. I will likely reinforce the tiles with hot glue for now. I plan to later tear out the bottom and replace it completely. But, for now, it will Simply Do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fireworks Season: The Aftermath

So, in most areas of the U.S., the occasion for fireworks is usually just on July 4th. Sure, people do some on New Year's Eve, but usually, it's just the 4th of July that you buy copious amounts of fireworks.

Well, it's a little different in Utah. We do celebrate the 4th with many, many fireworks shows. However, we also have the 24th of July and then we have our individual city celebrations during the summer. The 24th of July is Pioneer Day, to commemorate when the pioneers headed west and settled the Salt Lake Valley. The whole of Utah marks the occasion. The city celebrations are usually week long events that differ within each city in our area, including parades, talent shows, and yes, fireworks.

We're just a bunch of pyromaniacs up here.

This year, we decided to join in on the fun and loaded up on pyrotechnics. For the younger kiddos, we ended up with a large box, containing about 250 of the small boxes of poppers. You know, the ones you throw on the ground that explode and make a loud bang. They make the kids happy and keeps them away from the big fireworks. There is a downside to them, though.
They. Make. A. Mess.

After sweeping a few times, I knew that it would be hopeless to clean them up until every last one was popped. So, two weeks of popping later, we finally tossed the last spent poppers. I swept and hosed down the driveway like a mad woman. And I was left with a dilemma.

The popper papers like to cling to grass. A lot. My first thought was to mow the yard with the bag attached and just discard them with the clippings. However, alas, our new mower doesn't have a bag or an attachment for a bag. So, after some thought, I found myself wishing that I could just pull out my vacuum and suck it all up. I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me almost 2 hours to connect that thought with the fact that I have a shop vac.
Once that light bulb finally clicked, out came the shop vac. I vacuumed up the grass on both sides of the driveway with the hose attachment, had to clear the hose a few times because of clogs, but successfully cleaned it all up. I'm sure that the people driving by thought that my OCD was on overdrive that day. My neighbor, who just had his yard mowed and trimmed, came out with a laugh and joked that I was resorting to new measures to keep our lawn up to par with his. I also swore to myself that there was no way we would be buying those freakin poppers again, ever.

So, if you are needing a new, unorthodox method of cleaning the yard and making people question your've definitely come to the right blog.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Paint Makes It All Better

Paint is amazing. It is relatively cheap, comes in every color, and can give new life to your home. And if you add in some spackle before the paint, you can repair and renew many things around the house.

For example, baseboard trim. Trim can add a finished touch to any room, make it look complete. However, trim can take a real beating. From pets to kids to vacuums and mops, trim is battered on a regular basis. And it does not always bear the abuse well and can give your room a worn, distressed feel (and we're not talking the "distressed" that is the trend right now). That is the story with many of the baseboards in our home.

Our home was updated by a previous homeowner with crown molding, baseboards, and really good paint. However, that was all over 20+ years ago.

Side note with history: Our home was built by the brother of our neighbor to the west of us. It had been the site of their family barn. The neighbor is still going strong at 93 years old too. When his brother passed away, it was sold a family that lived in and remodeled the home. They then split the lot, built a new home on the back half which they moved into and still live in behind us, and sold this home to the next family. The husband of that family is the son of our neighbor to the east of us. So, we are surrounded by the former owners/family of former owners of our home. That is incredibly handy when things pop up around the needing to know where the AC supply line is and when you find two wedding rings in a basement drain and you need to track down the owners. I love a home with history.

Back to the topic at hand...trim. I will never claim to be an organized woman, that's just the truth of things. So, I do not have a before pic of the area I worked on. I do, however have this pic of a different spot of trim in our foyer that has seen just as much abuse (maybe more) as the trim in the kitchen that I painted.
This may even be a flattering pic compared to how these babies look in person. But you can see the dents, dings, chipped paint, scratches, and general distress of the wood trim. So, what's a girl to do? You pull out some spackle, some primer, and some paint and get to work.

First, prep work. Very important. DON'T skip this step!
Take a wet rag and a little soap and scrub those babies down. You will not be able to get them all clean, that's why we are doing all this. But you do need to get off as much dirt and grime as you can or the paint job will not look good or last long when you're done.

Next, take some joint compound (a.k.a. spackle) and start filling those nail holes, dents, and chips the best you can. Don't worry about putting on too much over the damaged areas, you'll be able to sand it down later. If you have any cracks/spacing where the molding meets in the corner, spackle is great for filling in those gaps and making it looks smooth and joined. Sawdust Girl has a great tutorial for that. Note: I like the spackle that goes on pink and turns white when it's dry and ready to sand.

After it's dry, take some sandpaper in the 120-220 range. The lower the number, the tougher the job it is for. You don't need a strong grit for this, especially if your trim has a lot of detailing. Sand the areas of repair until the spackled areas are flush with the trim and blend in. Then, wipe down with a damp rag to remove dust and vacuum floor area.

Before opening any paint cans, you need one last step. Taping. I LOVE Frog Tape.
I have tried a few different brands; blue painter's tape, Scotch brand, masking tape. None of them performs as well as Frog Tape. Place the tape along the wall as close to the trim as possible. Make sure the tape seal is tight to the wall to prevent "bleeding". Then, do the same on the floor below the baseboards. I also like to put a drop cloth on the floor in case of drips from my brush.

Next, primer. I know that most paints come with the primer mixed in already. However, if you are painting over spackled areas without doing a separate primer first, the areas will "bleed" through the paint. What you will get is spots that are duller looking that the rest of the wall or trim you painted. I learned this the hard way after filling a thousand holes in my son's walls (the previous child must have had a fondness for posters), not priming, and painting, only to be able to see every repair through the paint. His walls looked like they had a rash when the light hit them right.

I prefer to do two coats of primer on any surface and I prefer Kilz primer paint.

Finally, the paint! Yay! I like to do 2-3 coats of the paint. It bothers me a lot to see anything showing through the paint. So, I load it up. Also, when painting trim, streaks sometimes show in the finished product. This a result of brushing over paint that has already started to dry. Paint actually dries pretty fast. So, there are two options. You can load up your brush with paint and brush toward the spot you just painted, not away, and paint an area before it starts to dry.

There is also an additive you can mix into your paint that helps extend the dry time and gives the paint time to "even out". Floetrol is for latex paint and Penetrol is for oil-based paint.
I have tried both options and they seem to work identically if I am careful in loading my brush and painting quickly. If you get interrupted a lot, the additive may be the way to go.

After the paint is dry, about 2-3 hours, you can remove the tape carefully. Be aware that some spots may still be damp. If the tape sticks and looks like it will pull the paint, I use a box cutter razor or sharp pocket knife to cut along the seam for easy separation.
And, there will always be a small setback of some sort...spilled paint, uneven edging, or leaving the tape on for over a week until you get around to painting and then the tape takes off some wall color when you remove it.
Such is life. Just have to pull out that wall paint and touch it up. Cause that's how we roll in life. We Simply Do.

Budget Update (a.k.a To Err is Human)

Yeah, that title should give you a hint of how the budget project is going. First, the good, then, the bad.

Good - I have been keeping all my receipts to track our spending.
Bad - They are all sitting in a purse, not making much of a difference since they aren't being put                       into our budget spreadsheet.
Good - I have been able to reduce and cancel some expenses to lower our bills.
Bad - I am still not able to cancel one particularly pricey subscription and we are still uncomfortably               tight on money after bills are paid.
Good - We were doing great with curbing our extra spending when we realized how many little things               we buy.
Bad - That lasted for about a week and now, I'm pretty sure we are being as careless and mindless as               before.
Good - (Because there is no way I'm going to end this on a bad note.) I am still determined to master                 this part of our life. I will be going through the last couple weeks of spending tracking and                     renew my efforts.

So, that is our progress in a nutshell. On a more positive note, I will be posting about my latest paint project...finishing the last paint touches on the kitchen walls and trim.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Restful Day

Here I sit on at the end of a relaxing Sunday. I managed to handle a few church meetings, the primary kids, a restless kiddo of my own, a yummy dinner and dessert, and even managed to sneak away for a nap...all with the hubby at work today. I don't know how I managed to get so lucky to survive all that, AND also get some much needed rest.

I knew I wanted to blog today and my first thought was to do an update on the budgeting, which is some good and some bad. However, it didn't feel right to post about money on Sunday. Even if you aren't religious, I think Sunday is still a day to rest and relax before starting a new week.

So, I thought I might share a few things that I have enjoyed seeing over this week.

First, let's get the heartwarming, tearjerker vid out of the way:
And the one that will make you think:
Aaaaand, one to make you laugh:
FYI..."Heads Up" is a fabulous app game for family nights. While you are hilariously acting out things, the phone records it all and you can play it back for laughs.

And, a hodge podge of awesome:
These beautiful Adirondack Chairs that are featured on Fisherman's Wife Furniture.
These yummy-looking Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies from Lauren's Latest, that make me look forward to a cool Fall.

And, finally, I would be remiss to not introduce to you an amazing DIY blogger, Kit, the DIY Diva.
She is my DIY inspiration, especially when I feel a job is too big for me to do. She jumps in and gives it everything she's got...and has lived to tell the tales...and most of them are freaking hilarious.

I hope you had a blessed and restful Sunday and that you will have a productive, fun week. Adios.