Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bunk Bed Project - Part 3 - Footboard and Legs

This project might end up being a million posts long, but it's really not a difficult project at all.  Just time consuming.  And there's that whole full time job that likes to get in my way.  Plus, I try to be a good neighbor and not use my loud power tools after 9 pm.  So, I basically get in about an hour every weeknight after cooking dinner, playing with my kid and watching television.  But I'm not making excuses, because I've actually got a lot done since my last post.

I built the footboard.  Which is exactly like the headboard, only upside down in this picture.

Then the plans called for extra leg supports to be added.  I was so excited that my measurements were spot on, I had to call the boyfriend out to the garage to show off my super carpentry skills.

I added the supports and started on the real time consuming part - filling the holes and any uneven spots on the wood (especially the knot holes). 

The now-beefed-up legs are actually two 2x4's screwed together.  I want them to look like one seamless piece, so I'm experimenting with a two part process where I caulk the seam, and then go over with wood filler after the caulk has cured.  It's one of those things that takes no time at all to do, but then you have to wait at least 2 hours in between each step.

I keep reminding myself to go slowly and do the steps carefully and to the best of my ability - it will pay off in the end.  But I'm so excited to see the finished product and it's getting very close to us being able to put it all together for a test fit!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bunk Bed Project - Part 2 - Headboard

A couple of months ago, I bought a new toy.

My first miter saw.  Isn't he handsome?

After much research and waffling, I ended up going with a 10" DeWalt Compound Miter Saw.  10 inches because it was lighter than a 12 inch and most of the crosscuts I make are on wood less than 6 inches wide.  I chose DeWalt after reading all of the stellar reviews.  It basically came down to me choosing between a much more basic DeWalt or a fancier saw from another brand.  (By fancier, I mean, a sliding miter saw with a built in laser.)  Although bells and whistles are nice, for $200+ I wanted an investment piece I wouldn't have to replace in a couple of years.

It came out of the box almost completely set up (all I had to do was unpack, put on the dust bag, and plug it in).  The blade was even squared and ready to go.  They send it with a pretty average blade, but for my project it has been cutting beautifully, so I haven't upgraded to a nicer blade yet.

First, I measured and cut all of my lumber for the main bed frame.  I am waiting to cut the guard rail and ladder until after I put together the bed.  I sanded the pieces for the headboard and put them together with countersunk 3" screws.  (I actually bought a Kreg Jig specifically for this bed, but decided since the vertical legs were going to be covered up anyway, it would actually be less work to screw through them instead of through the 2x6 horizontal boards.)

It must weight 200 pounds - solid as a rock and perfectly level.  So excited!  Now I have to do the exact same thing for the footboard (less exciting).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bunk Bed Project - Part 1 - Shopping

A little over two years ago (yes, two years), I decided to make bunk beds for my son's room.  Well, those bunk beds are officially started!

I went to Home Depot yesterday and picked up my lumber and some other supplies.  For this project, I'm following Ana White's plan - Side Street Bunk Beds.  I'll also be adding a ladder and a railing on one side of the top bunk.

I went to a fairly quiet Home Depot and was pleasantly surprised by the first-class service I received.  I had two guys pulling boards for me and checking them for straightness.  Another man went back and forth picking out my screws, bolts, and some other accessories.  And yet another guy loaded it up for me.  I joked with the boyfriend that he was no longer allowed to go with me to Home Depot - since obviously they thought I was completely helpless and did all the hard work for me.

I picked framing lumber (pine) for the 2x6s and whitewood for the 2x4s and 2x2s.  The whitewood looked better than the other choice, yellow pine, although I swore to stay away from whitewood after my kitchen rolling storage fiasco (still have to blog about that one...).  I ended up picking up some pre-primed 1x3 pine for the railing.

By the way, for anyone who is reading this because they are looking into making this plan - the lumber list is currently wrong - you need 4 2x2s.

I borrowed my friend's Suburban to get it all home.

Currently, there's an oversized pool table taking up most of our one-car garage (aka my workspace), so I'm going to have to move all of this to the patio and work there.

Atticus asked if he would be able to sleep on his bunk beds tonight.  I laughed and told him definitely not, although I'll try to get them finished in a week or two.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rachael Ray Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into my local Salvation Army store and everything was 50% off.  A thrifting miracle - right?  Unfortunately, I wasn't the first cowgirl to the rodeo and quality furniture was nowhere to be seen.  So I ended up buying a whole bunch of cookbooks (12 or 15, don't remember now, and they were like $1 or $1.50 each).  Just went kind of cookbook crazy.

I am a big fan of the Taste of Home cookbooks and have several that have been my go-to's for the last couple of years.  However, I had gotten to a point where I was making the same dishes a lot, which, even if you really love the end result, makes cooking much more of a chore than an adventure.  So I wanted to be more experimental and daring with my cooking.

One of the cookbooks I picked up was Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats, which came out 8 years ago.  I like Rachael and have watched her shows before, but was never really inspired to try any of her recipes.  So I decided to do a mini Julie & Julia challenge and do 2 weeks of nothing but dinners from this book.

The only rule I made was that I had to cook her recipe - no substitutions.  I did end up cheating on one dish - it involved mushrooms and no one in this family likes mushrooms even the slightest tiniest bit.  But all of the rest where done to her specifications.

I'm now a Rachael Ray fan (at least of this cookbook), and I'll tell you why:

1.)  Everything has been tasty.  Most have been dishes I would cook again.  A few have been ones I crossed off as repeats, but they were still tasty - just not great enough to demand it again.

2.)  Portions are big.  Almost all of them say they serve 4 and actually serve closer to 6-8.  This works well for my family of 3 because there are usually leftovers for lunches or extras for people who happen to drop by during dinnertime.

3.)  I like that most are a meal - or at least the meat and one side.  I'm a big fan of one-pot cooking (cause I hate doing dishes), but it's nice to have a complimentary side included with the main dish recipe.

4.)  She includes a lot of fresh ingredients.  You can tell she is used to buying her groceries by the day, or maybe only a couple of days ahead.  This has been a fairly big adjustment to me - since I go grocery shopping once every 2 weeks.  Besides a few fresh herbs I have growing, I tend to use dry herbs.  And I like to pre-make as much as possible so I can cook really quickly after work.  (They are "30 Minute Meals" - but mostly if you have all of your stuff prepped like you're on a cooking show - or you're a super-fast veggie chopper.)   I still used these strategies, just had to make sure I cooked anything with a fresh, non-freezable veg - like lettuce - soon after my shopping trip.

5.)  Lots of variety and fairly easy instructions.  Not many pictures, but that kind of forced me to actually read the recipes and not just pick them based on visuals.  She has some ingredients that I had to google from the store to see where I should be looking for them, but nothing too highly priced (dashes of saffron everywhere, or truffle oil, for example).

The negatives:

1.)  She never gives amounts for salt and pepper.  I understand everyone is going to prefer a different amount and you should taste as you cook - but in some cases, like adding it to raw meat, it wold be better to have a suggested amount.  I wish she would also give dry ingredient substitution amounts for herbs.

2.)  My main beef - she messes up a lot of dishes.  It obviously varies by recipe, but many of them require 2-3 pans/pots and then a couple of bowls on the side.   

So far, those are my only complaints.  After finishing the first two weeks, I extended it for another two, so I'll have cooked through an entire month of nothing but RR soon.  We'll see how long this cooking experiment can last.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Project Sofa Rehab - Part 1 - The Fabric

We're FINALLY moving forward with the sofa reupholstering!  I am very excited!!  The boyfriend is decidedly less so.  He thinks the sofa is beyond saving, and he might be right, but I'm am optimistic it will be gorgeous and people will come from miles around to snuggle and pet the soft, soft fabric.

I bought 20 yards of this black velvet:

Antique Cotton Velvet @ Fabric.com

It's rated at 100,000 double rubs, which is a good rating for sofa upholstery, and it was only $10.98/yard.  With free shipping , a 15% off coupon code, and tax, it totaled $200.19.  (19 cents over budget, but we'll live.)

I decided on cotton velvet because 1.) I'm pretty sure the original fabric is cotton velvet and it's lasted the last 40 years (admittedly, it is on its very last legs);  2.) I've been happy with the way the current velvet has stood up to my six year old;  and 3.) Velvet was recommended as a good-wearing fabric on several sites I checked.

Next step:  I've talked to a couple of upholstery shops and like one in particular.  So we're going to go check out his work in person and hopefully drop off the sofa sometime next week once the fabric comes in.  Not sure what we're going to do without a sofa for 2 weeks.  Maybe I'll get one off of Craigslist and then resell it?  Or just use one of the 300+ chairs we have floating around the house.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On Disappointment

Hiya, guys.  Yesterday sucked.  Plain and simple.

I mentioned at the end of my last post that it looked like we were going to be moving soon.  Well, that's not happening. 

Basically, a couple of weeks ago, the boyfriend's mom was laid off.  She came to us, very worried that she would no longer be able to make ends meet and proposing that we find a house we could share.  The sooner the better. 

Before any of this happened, I was Ms. Contented Where She Lives.  I really love our duplex - it's in a great neighborhood, right across the street from my son's school where we absolutely love everyone, I walk to work, it's not looking like such a hot mess anymore as projects are finally getting wrapped up, etc., etc., etc. 

But family is family.  You do what you need to do.  So we started looking.

It was all very surreal, actually.  Because my mother-in-law (I call her that even though the in-law part is not actually legal) pays quite a bit for her current rental, when you combined what we pay with half of what she currently pays, we were looking at McMansions.  The first house we liked was 2700+ sq. ft. - which was kind of laughable really.  I would have felt like such a poser living there.  (Not bashing people with big houses.  I'd take it any day.  It's just such a giant leap from our compact duplex to a place so enormous.)  Then, we found what I thought was a perfect house - smaller (2000+ sq. ft.) and therefore less upkeep, but laid out in wings so that we had our own sections of the house and wouldn't be stepping all over each other.  Completely redone with bells and whistles galore.

I made a house tour video for the blog.  I went crazy on Pinterest.  It was all so exciting - like new things are.

Then, my mother-in-law changed her mind.  Got cold feet.  Whatever. 

I'm not mad at her.  I'd much rather her change her mind now than after we sign leases or started packing up stuff.  She's kind of an emotional wreck right now and shouldn't really be making big life decisions like picking a new home, anyway.  She thought she needed to, but it looks like she won't have to anymore. 

But I'm still sad and disappointed (like when you wake up from an awesome dream to realize it was all fake), but in a weird way.  I'm relieved.  I don't have to pack or move (which are some of my least favorite things ever).  We're staying in the neighborhood we love, in the house that is home.  I can stop coming up with polite ways to say "your microfiber Ashley furniture is the bane of my existence and needs to be put somewhere other people can't see it."

So - all good things.  However, I'm still kind of sad.  Because for a week there, we were going to pay the exact same amount of money we currently do, but be living in a much, much nicer home.  It made me not-so-content with my current place, which is in turn making me feel violated in a very personal way.  Like my life isn't good enough. 

That is definitely how I do not want to feel.  So, instead, I'm going to focus on the positives until I'm back in my contented zone.  One of the nice things about touring new homes is it makes you rethink and re-evaluate your furniture.  What works, what doesn't, what I'm willing to part with, what has to make the cut.  I feel a new rush of inspiration and the desire to finish decorating spaces (and enjoy them) before we have to move out of it (for real this time).  It might not be a McMansion, but it is pretty special to us.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dining Room Wall with Art

The impulsively bought art arrived last weekend and I immediately hung it up.  That's not an exaggeration - it went from a tube on my front porch to hanging on my wall in less than 15 minutes, and that includes deciphering Ikea instructions (yes, they have instructions for a picture frame - and thank goodness or I would have never figured it out) and cutting the print down to fit my square frame.

These are cell pics, so pretend you have glaucoma or something.  Obvs, the colors are not true-to-life.

Wait a sec, I'll give you an even bigger crappy cell phone pic so you can see my Ikea Vittsjo shelving units. 

I didn't even have to style the shelves for these pictures.  When I installed the shelves about two months ago, I spent an entire weekend arranging/changing/driving the boyfriend crazy until I was happy with the results.  Then I (and this is the most important step) forbade anyone in the house to touch anything on these shelves - ever. 

In this next pic, you'll see the problem that I immediately noticed after hanging up the picture.


I thought - maybe it's just me being too anal.  So asked the boyfriend what he thought of the new art.  To which he replied (without missing a beat), "How can I tell with all that glare going on?"

Obviously, I should have taken it into conisderation that I was going to hang this cheapo-glass frame (meaning, it's not one of those fancy non-glare ones) across from three windows and a big sliding glass door.  But I didn't. 

My initial reaction was - "Shucks, I guess I need to find art on canvas to replace it and then move this one to the opposite wall where glare shouldn't be a problem."

Then I thought about getting a round mirror.  What do you think - would a round shape be prettier in contrast with the square shelves?

But, in the last couple of days, reality has set in.  Which means, there is talk of us moving soon and since it took me 2 years to put up this picture, I doubt I'll put replacing it high on my list. 

I like the piece though, so it's a keeper.  And it looks awfully pretty at night.