Friday, April 29, 2011

Yellow Surprises

Without alarming anyone, I have a confession to make.

I've become a thrifter.

At least, I'm on a mission to find the perfect new piece to add to our living room collection.

We probably all saw this coming. My deep love for finding something unique for a killer price. My desire to take one thing and transform it into something completely different to fit the style of my house. My ambition to create a home. It was only a matter of time before I became a fan of antique and consignment stores.

Hey, wait! Don't leave! I can explain.

I was looking through a magazine a few months ago and saw a beautiful yellow dresser used to brighten up a living room. We've been trying to decide what to do in the living room on the wall with the door. The recently-added chairs are a little more muted than I was expecting, which is good. But they aren't providing that pop of "Wow!" when you first walk in the door. Instead, they are calming and bright and beautiful. I thought they were going to steal the show once they were in my living room. But you know what? They have allowed me to do something crazy in another nook!

Here is just some of the fun inspiration I've found. This particular piece was photographed by Stephanie Fay and is pretty dang close to what I'm imagining in our living room. It might not end up being this yellow. But a bright, cheery, soon-to-be-yellow dresser for sure is being hunted by me this very second. You know what's even more fun? Hubby is all on-board for this project and is helping me look, too. What a difference to have his participation in something! It's made it a heck of a lot more fun. Or funner, as my former North Dakota neighbors would say.

Here's another one that I love. This one was created by Design Sponge from an original antique. The Before-And-After shots are incredible! I particularly like the After shots.

We've been seriously looking for the past week or so. We even went to an antique shop this past weekend, hoping to find that perfect piece of furniture that could still fit in our budget. Another trick to this project is that can't feel badly about painting it yellow. So it can't be too antique...I don't want to be haunted by former owners because I spoiled their mahogany finish, if you know what I mean.

We started by looking at Goodwill and Deseret Industries, but I think what we're trying to find is a little too taste-specific to end up in a store like that. Because everything else in the living room is so clean-lined and retro and classic, I'm actually looking to go a little more ornate with this piece. Something with spindly legs and a beautiful curved front? This will eventually house play toys for the kiddies, so it needs to have concealed storage while being a statement piece in the room.

I went to a fun store yesterday with my sister. Though we found some neat pieces in this "attic," all were double or triple slightly above my budget. As I search more, I may realize that biting the bullet and spending more than my desired $150 might just have to happen. I'm not that desperate (or tired of searching) yet, so for now the budget can remain in force. We will probably spend another $40 for supplies to paint it and replace the hardware, so I'm hoping to keep the entire thing under $200. Now...if I search for months and months and end up finding the perfect piece? That budget is always negotiable. Hubby might accidentally be left home for that excursion, but it will all be worth it.

It doesn't help that I purchased these happy, fun shoes this week at DSW. Perhaps some color inspiration is taking place without me even recognizing it?

So what do you think? Am I crazy?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A New Shed Is Born

It was a long time in the making, but we now have a perfectly-sized shed in the side yard of our home. And we no longer have the world's largest shed eating up half the backyard. Over the past few months, Hubby has spent many an hour in the backyard, dismantling one shed and recycling it into another. And you know what? He done good.

Laying the Foundation

The most important part of the shed-building process was making sure it was on solid ground. We wouldn't want it to wash away now, would we? Hubby buried six cinder blocks into the ground and made sure they were perfectly even with his favorite tool, a six-foot level. He sifted the dirt with his homemade rock sifter to make sure all the gravel was removed to ensure no settling later. Then he laid the floorboards on top of the blocks to make sure everything was a perfect fit. Before building the walls, Hubby installed pieces of wood to block the bottom of the shed. Even though it will be covered with gravel (eventually...still a work-in-progress), we didn't want critters thinking underneath the shed would make their perfect new home. So he blocked it off and spoiled all their dreams. Now it was time to build up the sides!

Building the Walls

After carefully measuring and re-measuring, Hubby got to work using his circular saw to make all the panels for the walls. Since he refused to buy new wood to build this thing, he ended up with several panels joined together to make each new wall. It took several days to get all of the walls up, but they helped to make the building more stable with each panel added. I helped whenever I could but just tried (and failed) to keep my mouth shut so he could do what he wanted.

Raising the Floors and Roof

Before finishing all of the walls, Hubby installed a new floor using the old floor panels from the Goliath Shed. He hand-sawed each nook for the 2x4 frame, and soon a snugly-fitting floor was in place! Next, he added cut panels to the roof to get it ready for the recycled tar paper that was stapled into place. Finally, Hubby cut the metal sheets to size and screwed them into their new home. The roof was on! We no longer needed to worry about upcoming rain storms since all of the wood was protected.

Time to Paint

I decided to surprise Hubby by painting the shed and doors while he was at work. Man, am I the romantic one! I think he was glad he didn't have to spend time painting... so he could work on the fun building stuff. And I realized that I am a messy painter. Apparently, it is asking too much of me to focus on rolling paint into a wooden surface AND keeping the paint tray level to prevent spills. I wasted a lot of paint before realizing that, yet again, I was holding the paint crooked and allowing it to drip all over. It was awesome. That being ignored, I think the paint job turned out very well.

Building Doors

We went to Snowflake to use some of Hubby's Dad's special tools to make notches in the 2x4 boards that would snugly envelope the door panels. Mick even had the 2x4 boards and loved helping us groove the notches into place. I just think all boys like playing with loud, dangerous toys! With the pieces notched, Hubby formed them around the panels (the only wood he bought for the shed) to form two strong doors. They look great and will hold up to lots of use because they are so sturdy!

Final Touches

With the doors finished, it was time to install them on the new hinges. We also added two handles and a locking device as high up as we could. We wouldn't want any future children getting into the shed to drink gasoline mow the lawn now, would we? Next, it was time to add some protection to the ventilation openings. We are all about critter prevention in this household. We wanted the shed to have some breathing room but didn't want birds and skunks to discover safety from storms inside. So we used window screen and a new staple gun to keep them out. It turned out well, and it was the last thing to finish before the shed could be considered complete!

Total cost for a brand-new (to us) shed was rather impressive. After recovering from the initial shock of spending $6 for screws, Hubby made everything else stretch.

Screws: $6
Paint: $13 (would have been less had I not kept spilling...)
Doors: $16
Hardware: $10

According to Micah Math, and you might want to check my numbers, but we got a new shed for under $50! That Hubby is pretty impressive in many ways, but his economical goals are just out of this world! A shed this size purchased from the store would have cost over $600. Believe me...I checked.

I know Hubby is glad to have it finished. And just in time for the heat to start setting in! We now have a place to store the lawn mower, wheel barrow, and yard tools. And we also now have room in the backyard to make a great lawn for playing! It really is the perfect shed. Nice job, Hubby!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Bunny Done Did Good

We had such a nice time yesterday hosting Easter Dinner with family. We had eight...EIGHT...people over for the day, if you count babies. And I count babies! It was great timing because my Dad was in town from Mexico for his six-month visit to the States. He brought our dear family friend, Don, from Phoenix. My sister and her family were there, as was my brother and his family. Including the hosts, we packed ten people around the patio set outside for a Sunday Dinner Feast.

When we got home from church, Hubby and I set the table outside. We borrowed our old dining table to add the additional seating, and it worked out well to give everyone enough elbow room to really dig in. I had purchased and arranged some flowers from Trader Joe's, and I found some neat wicker basket candle holders (from where else...TJ Maxx), that provided some extra lighting as the evening drew closer. T'liese plugged in our overhead dangle lights to help create the perfect mood. It's all about mood lighting to have a successful event!

I tried something new...I delegated people to bring food. And it worked! It meant less stress for me, and others got to contribute to the meal. We all enjoyed the Funeral Potatoes and Caprese Salad brought by guests, and it certainly reduced my workload when prepping everything. Hubby and I provided Ham, (which I cooked in the slow cooker), Rhodes Rolls, Corn on the Cob, and Strawberry Lemonade. There was a ton of food (and now a ton in my fridge for leftovers...perhaps the best part!). And people stayed hours later than they said they could, which meant we were doing something right.

Dad was assigned to bring Easter candy, and I knew right away that I had made the right delegation for that assignment. He made Easter baskets for everyone! I haven't gotten a basket in years, and it was fun to have my name on a beautiful basket full of goodies! Thanks, Dad!

For dessert, I made a Lemon Pound Cake with a Lemon Glaze, covered in Strawberry Compote, Homemade Vanilla Whipped Cream, and fresh Strawberries. It was light, refreshing, and heavenly. Everyone seemed to really like it.

My only complaint was that I wanted the cake to be fresh, so I made it after dinner while the party continued outside. I felt alllllll alone in the kitchen while listening to laughing outside. I was missing out! Next time, to avoid such manual labor during the party, I will have dessert, (something simple and delicious), all ready to go. Then I won't feel like I am left out of some fun conversations and baby interaction! If we were eating inside, it wouldn't have been a problem. My kitchen is next to the dining table and the living room, so I would have been in the middle of all the action. Next time we host dinner outside, I will have everything finished so I can just relax with everyone else.

I did have some great help doing dishes during the party, too. Though I have a few things to wash this morning, it is nothing like the mountain that was washed yesterday by one of my guests. Thank you, Manual Labor! You will be invited to future gatherings, for sure!

With the Alison Kraus Pandora station playing on my iPod during dinner, we enjoyed a lovely time with family and friends. The food was great, and the environment was perfect for eating outside. It was a lovely way to celebrate Easter Sunday.

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