Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Closet Case (Part 1)

Closet space... something you always need more of.
When we moved into our house, all the closets had those white wire shelves that are handy, but not attractive or the most versatile.

After doing our homework, we decided on a built-in closet system from Easy Closets. They are on-par as far as price range goes (which is still really $$$) but the simplicity of designing and ordering the system online was pretty slick. You can even get your design reviewed online to make sure everything fits and is spaced correctly.I don't know what I was expecting, but I was stunned when the postman showed up with 24 giant, heavy boxes of closet kits!

I can't yet comment on the quality or ease of assembly yet, but that will come in another post.

First, we had to take out the old shelving. Here is a picture of DH (Dear Husband) working on removing those stupid wire shelves.

Then we had to fill the bajillion holes left behind. Ok, maybe not a bajillion, but DH counted at least 96. The biggest one (see right) actually needed a patch because so much of the drywall had crumbled around the hole.

 I used this patch here, (see right) and let me tell you: I was not impressed. It is a circle of drywall attached to a larger circle of paper. You cut out your wall to fit the drywall circle, insert, and spackle. I think I must have used 6 or 7 coats of spackle to finally get it smooth enough for my "discerning" eye.

 While it did end up working, it was much more hassle than our silver-dollar-size hole warranted. I should have used this one instead (see left) which is a metal plate with mesh over it and it sticks to the wall. Then you spackle around that too. Easier yes, but you wouldn't be able to put a nail/screw in it like the other patch.

Result: If your hole is baseball size or larger, OR if you want to hang something in that location later, then use the drywall plug. If it's a smaller hole and out of the way, use the metal plate sticker.

DH was more than sick of the spackle-sand cycle, but we were just getting started. After the walls were smooth, it was time to work on the ceiling. If you have forgotten how much I detest abhor popcorn ceilings, here's how I removed it last time. We followed the same process here.
It kind of looks like a crime scene with all the plastic taped up to the walls. That thing hanging from the ceiling is just the wires from the light taped off. We didn't really want to get those wet. ;)

After wetting, and scraping the ceiling, we were back to spackling and sanding. So many holes to sand kicked up a lot of drywall dust, so we could only do a little at a time.

After a quick wall washing, we are finally ready to tape, prime, then paint!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thrift Find

I was toodeling around the "antique" store with MD (sis-in-law) the other day, and this was one of my finds:
A basic wooden box/tray.

Now I am always on the lookout for thing that can help me organize my junk stuff. I loved the shape of it, but the finish didn't exactly match our decor (or at least the direction we are trying to go).
As long as I was painting a couple other pieces of furniture, (see right) I figured I would paint the tray to match.

Step 1: Clean!
I used a TSP cleaner to get rid of any dirt and oils that may have been on there for who knows how long. This is the same type of cleaner you use on your walls before painting.

Step 2: Sand!
Ok, so I cheated on this step and only did a tiny bit of sanding to "rough up" the surface since I knew I was using a heavy duty primer.

Step 3: Prime!
This is my first time using this primer, but I think I like it. It is pretty thick, but leaves a solid surface for your paint to grip onto. The key here is that it says "bond coat" on the label. Two coats gives a solid, non-streaky base. (The picture below is after just one coat.)

Step 4: Paint!
I was using this same paint on a couple other piece, so I stuck with this Black Satin Enamel paint. I am going for that rich "Pottery Barn" black finish.

Step 5: Wait!
Since this will be pretty heavily used, holding our plethora of remote controls, I have to be patient and let the paint "cure" (fully harden) before using it. 14 days, oh the agony!

Step 6: Display!
Finally it can be put to use, and all of our remotes have a home that isn't between couch cushions.

Here is the end table that I used the same process for. I think it turned out pretty well!

 Before: (with some "roughing up")

After: sleek and smooth!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First Snow

Last weekend, before the snow hit, I was able to spray paint a couple coats on my latest thrift find: a mirrored tray.
I picked this up at a local antique/thrift shop for a whopping $4. A design trick is to place things together on a tray to make them look more cohesive, like they belong together. It is tough to tell but it started out a very pale gold,which does not fit my color scheme.
I scrubbed it quick to get any thrift shop ickyness off of it. After it dried, I sprayed it with a couple coats of grey primer.

Then I used a "brushed nickel" spray paint to give it the right finish. I like the way it turned out, even though it isn't quite as "lustrous" as I would have hoped.
Now it will hold all the guest bathroom fru-fru's

Well we just got our first snow of the season. You would think it would be a nice little dusting, but no... not up here with the lake effect.
According to the tape measure, the snow on the deck was 11" and that was after it melted a bit. Official forecast said 13".

 Eva was born last year so she is used to the snow and charges in like a champ. Too bad this first snowfall is higher than her chest, so had to try and bound across the yard.

  Of course this is the perfect snow, where it is light and fluffy but packs together perfectly for snowballs. This left Eva's fur packed with little snowballs and started bogging her down after fifteen minutes. She was also starting to get cold so it was time to come in... and next time we will try the doggie booties to keep her paws warm.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Corner for Compost

I really didn't think I was going to get the compost bins built this season, so I was being a little optimistic when I bought the material.
But thanks to my sister, SisX, we got it knocked out in one weekend!

As usual, I have materials for various projects sitting around the house. So when SisX came over this past weekend, she had her choice of activities to help with. One option was sitting on the couch watching a chick-flick, but we decided to be a bit more active.

She picked: Building the compost bin! ... but then we had to wait for the drill to charge, so we blanched and froze tomatoes for a bit...

An hour later... back to the bins!

Here is the general idea. But of course I didn't need mine to be so fancy shmancy. All I was looking to do was have three separate piles for compost.
Why three?
The first one is your "adding pile." It's where you put all your fresh scraps, plants and leaves. It's the only one you are adding fresh material to.
The second pile is the "cooking pile." It is doing it's own thing, working hard to break down all those scraps into garden gold (compost).
The third is your "finished pile." It is for fully composted material that you can use as needed.

So when your adding pile gets full, your finished pile will be empty (because you used all that glorious compost), and your cooking pile will be decomposed and ready to use... your piles naturally cycle themselves.

The nice thing about a compost bin is that it doesn't have to be perfect. There are probably no right-angles, the walls are a different height than the back, it will rot away in a few years (untreated pine instead of cedar), and all that is ok.

We started by making four squares with a diagonal support for rigidity. Then SisX cut and stapled chicken wire to them. (Thank goodness because I kind of hate working with chicken wire!)

We did the same thing for a longer back panel, then put it all together! Not an exact science, and hardly any exact measurements. Perfect!

So here it is placed in the garden. You want a site that has a bit of shade so it doesn't dry out, close to a hose or water source, not too close to the house because of bugs and critters. I also strategically placed it withing "throwing distance" of the deck so I don't have to wander out too far.
The far two slots just got filled with fall leaves and grass clippings. They can start breaking down over winter!

I'm thinking it needs a name. I feel like it's a "she," but the real question is what do you name a compost bin? Compy? Binita?
Do you have any suggestions?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Puppy Party

Well this was the week. Our little baby turned one year old!

Of course we had to celebrate with a party, so we invited her "boyfriend," Aiden, over along with his dad, JP. We had treats for the kiddos and the adults.
The dogs got "pupcakes" from this recipe here. The great thing about this was that I already had all the supplies in my kitchen!

Doggie Birthday Treats
1 egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup wheat or white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup honey (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and honey, if desired, in a large bowl; blend well. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour and baking soda and fold into the carrot mixture. Spoon cake batter into prepared pan or cookie sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely
And let me tell you, the puppies went crazy for them. I frosted them with plain peanut butter which ended up being quite messy, but the dogs were more than willing to oblige and clean the tile floor spotless!

The people got a homemade cookie cake. I used this recipe which turned out fantastic. I had never made a cookie cake due to the fear of a raw center, but this ended up being perfect... except that it was much bigger than expected!

Giant Chocolate-Chip Cookie Cake

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(You can omit one cup of the chocolate chips and add a cup of chopped nuts)

In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
Gradually add flour, salt, and baking soda, beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts if desired).
Line a 14 inch round pizza pan with parchment paper. Spread dough, evenly, over the parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 17 minutes. Cool cookie in pan on a cooling rack. Decorate as desired.

Aiden (ok, maybe JP) got Eva a giant smoked bone for a birthday present. She LOVES it, but I only give it to her for a short amount of time so she won't eat it all and get sick.

Dear Husband (DH) got her a stuffed skunk. In under 5 min flat, she had found the squeaker and extracted it through the side of the toy. Now the skunk has had a nip-tuck. Eva nipped, I tucked!... then she nipped again. 


 We gave out Moose Antler Slices as a puppy-favors. Both dogs loved them.  *Please note that antlers are shed naturally every year, so buying from a reputable dealer does not contribute to any poaching.*
I had gotten an elk antler for her and it has lasted a few months. It was a "tine" (the tip part of an antler which is tougher). The moose ones I got are "slices" of the flat part of an antler, which are more porous. The only problem is, with Eva being the power-chewer that she is, she worked her way through the antler slice pretty quick. This is the picture just 20 min after we gave it to her. Two days later... it is too small and I have to take it away. Don't worry, I bought multiple.

Aww my little birthday princess!