Monday, December 28, 2015

Picture This: Week 52, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

December 21, 2015

Cleveland street art on utility boxes- I like it.

December 22, 2015

Ponsettia and rosette apple pies for Christmas. I was intimidated by the latter, but a Madeline slicer made all the difference.

December 23, 2015

Christmas with the Cavs.

December 24, 2015

The fullest moon en route to Pittsburgh for the holidays.

December 25, 2015

A very blurry Dinah bear.

December 26, 2015

Christmas with my family means games.

December 27, 2015

The furbs were not pleased we left them. Henry forgives easily, and loves presents. Copper was less amused.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Picture This: Week 51, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

December 14, 2015

Dentist time! I truly love visits to the dentist.

December 15, 2015

Henry's become the morning lookout in a strange power shift.

December 16, 2015

Henry, trying to leave with her favorite, Adam.  I didn't realize this week had turned so cat-centric so quickly.

December 17, 2015

Family fun van truck!  My parents and sister picked us up en route to my youngest sister's master's graduation.

December 18, 2015

So proud of that weirdo!

December 19, 2015

Sid missed his grandpa, but was more confused at his lack of treats.

December 20, 2015

It's been roughly 8 years in the making - I finally made it to Straight No Chaser! They did not disappoint, but maybe, definitely, picked up more corny dad jokes along the way. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Picture This: Week 50, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

December 7, 2015

Contact instructions: look into your eyes and say, "Dang, I really am awesome in every way."

December 8, 2015

Copper is always ready to pose.

December 9, 2015

My sisters sent us to Zip City, an indoor trampoline park.  It was so fun, my favorite being the foam pit.  I only wish I was allowed to flip.

December 10, 2015

I can't be mad at this sun in December.

December 11, 2015

We decorated the tree Friday night, finally.  I love our ornaments.

December 12, 2015

Cleveland has its very own Clark Griswold. 

December 13, 2015

Ladylock palooza! I'm happy I live closer to Pittsburgh on these sorts of days so I can drive home and help with a years-long tradition with my neighbors that are family.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas village tree.

This post is quite particular.  I debated writing, but opted to when I didn't find any tutorials in a very brief search when I first started the build. 

My grandma has several light-up houses from the St. Nicholas Square village collection.  I don't know much about it - it may not even be a collection.  It may just be things.  Regardless, she has a lot of these things and in the past, she's bridged several banquet tables around her sunroom and created a vast village.  It was impressive, but incredibly time consuming, and she'll be the first to admit she didn't like doing it.  She loved looking at it.  She didn't love setting it up. 

My mum approached me with an idea she found on Pinterest of Christmas villages set up in a display that mirrored a Christmas tree.  It was round platforms stacked on each other, wrapped in lights, garland and ribbon, with the Christmas villages twisting throughout.  It was perfect for Grandma, but I still lamented being handed another project. 

Thankfully, my mum helped brainstorm.  We decided on a porch column in the center with plywood levels supported by 2x2 pieces of varying heights.  

To start, I built a support for the porch railing that we cut to a 6-foot height.  Using 2x4's and 2x2's, I made triangles that I attached with hidden pocket holes on the bottom and screws at the top.  This was more for balance as the post was super light and wouldn't actually be a support.

Next, I traced an opening in the middle of each of the plywood boards using the scrap piece of the post.  I added an allowance as these would be sliding up and over the post, as well as where we would drop the light switches.  

We used four sizes of plywood, and this determination was random.  My mum gave us a 4-foot square, so that was the bottom.  We purchased a 3.5-foot square, then found a 2-foot and 1-foot square in our wood pile. 

Then we debated heights for the shelves.  This was difficult as we do not own any of the village houses and though the obvious answer would be to google, we didn't do that.  Hindsight is 20/20.  We settled on 2 feet for the first platform (this was the most thought as we didn't want my gram bending down too much), a foot and a half for the second, and a foot for the third and fourth.  A foot turned out to be too short for some of the chapels.  

The leg heights are on the right side, the base sizes on the left.

We screwed the legs into the platform with 1 1/4" wood screws.  We didn't screw the platforms into each other (meaning the legs sitting on top of the platforms aren't screwed into the one below).  The number of legs per platform varied:  on the two bottom platforms, we did 8 legs; four sufficed for the top.  

I rounded the corners of the bottom pieces, though it it not obvious after I upholstered them in batting and trimmed them with garland.  A staple gun made that fast work.  Quick thought on making this round versus square, because that is the first lament of two of my uncles: yes, Christmas trees are round and the obvious (I'm using that word too much here today) would be to make this round.  However, that severely cuts out the surface area for houses.  I would do that if this was going to the ground.  Being that it wasn't, I'm glad we didn't because Gram wouldn't be crouching down to see the bottom. 

At the very top, I glued (apparently off-center) a simple finale I painted and glittered.  

Even before it was assembled, Gram was mingling about and setting up the village.  That's why there's a pond, a couple churches, and garland wrapped around the legs in the creation of a "forest" in my before set up picture. 

A couple hours and several critiques later, we were complete.

We then fished the wires through the center and into four power strips.  One power strip hides in the back of the first platform while the other three are on the ground and need a quick toe to turn them on.

This village has its lake, shopping, fancy shopping, dining, and plenty of church options.  There's a schoolhouse and a fire house and a few horse-drawn carriages. 

The gentlemen tip their hats to the ladies, here, and it's in your best interest to understand that. Also the man that looks like a pedofile in the bushes is actually a policeman joining a game of blind man's bluff. And if you see a lady carrying flowers in a red jacket, that's my grandma.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Picture This: Week 49, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

November 30, 2015

We're back at it.

December 1, 2015

Delaying our departure after the Cavs gave provided the prettiest view in Tower City.

December 2, 2015

It was the most terrifying commute Wednesday, followed by the most expensive bill on Friday.

December 3, 2015

Maker's Mark may intend for the props to be for bourbon, but they work perfectly (purrrrrfectly) for the cats.

December 4, 2015

Copper hasn't been here in a while.  We think he ate some pot pie, and spent the majority of the day in bed.

December 5, 2015

We took a trip to my grandparents over the weekend to build and present my grandma with a Christmas-tree inspired Christmas village stand.  She was first hesitant, then thrilled.

December 6, 2015

Pretty proper Henry girl (and the rug pad I'm forcing to lay flat before new kitchen runners arrive).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Guest room: major progress.

It maybe hasn't been clearly stated, but I've been ignoring the guest room since we plopped a bed in there.  I considered it more of a crash pad, and yes, I knew I'd have to address it, but when you keep the door closed, you can forget about it.  I did just that.  

Over the past six months or so, I'd seen more articles about how to make your guest room inviting.  At first, they were things I would read with only partial attention.  When you see something enough though, it starts to seem like a sign.  It was a sign I was being inhospitable.  I still didn't take much mind because guests tended to be family or friends that were like family.  Then - THEN! - my brother's girlfriend was scurrying around the house to find a mirror to do her makeup as we all showered and did the same.  This must have been pre-mirror in the hallway, but I felt terrible.  It stuck with me.  I bought a mirror for the guest room.  Having a mirror in the guest room was also a must on some list I saw.  It was a sign.

Before I get too far in the babble, here's where we started - 

That's not actually the very start.  The very start included a door with glass windows, which is now our headboardThat would have been an even worse welcome for guests - cats staring at them through the door as they slept. So to start, we replaced the door, hung curtains from my previous apartment bedroom and ignored the room.  There was one side table, which was a folding TV stand, and one lamp.  You are literally seeing it all - wood paneling and tan paint - here in its glory. But I guess you are missing the mismatched wood trim.  Use your imagination.  

I slowly started adding items.  I bought two lamps so that each guest could have a light (my dad was thrilled) and built side tables to hold said lamps.  I built a headboard that I'm kind of in love with.  I bought the aforementioned mirror (at Target).  I got a steal on a rug.  Then I threw splotches of paint on the wall.  

Listing it out, it sounds like significant progress. It was.  It still looked very untouched to me, and I attribute that to the tan paintIt looked as if a mix of flat and semi-gloss was used, leaving the light to catch a random sheen in the wall.  I was irrationally annoyed by it, but again, you can forget when you close the door. 

Then my mother, whom is decidedly responsible for my incessant drive, called to ask if I wanted help with the paneling.  Seriously.  She called to volunteer.  She might also be where I get my touch of insanity.  Kind of kidding :).  She had recently undertaken the painstaking process of filling the crevices of the paneling in her house, before then sanding and painting, to terrific results.  I was eager to do the same in the guest room, but hesitant I was adding too many projects before the holidays, in addition to travel I had planned. I'm kind of trying to realize when I'm taking on too much to prevent unnecessary stress, but alas.  The opportunity was too good to pass up, and free help should never be refused.  She came a-packin'. 

BamI couldn't wait anymore with the babbleThe results are impressive, and the work is not to be dismissed.  My mum prepped and painted the ceiling (which we hadn't done yet because after I removed the quarter-round that was installed as crown, we saw there was wallpaper hiding underneath).  Then she moved onto the paneling, and our wood paneling was special.  Instead of smooth panels with crevices, as I've traditionally seen paneling, ours was wood grain.  You know, because it's important for paneling to look fake and realistic.  I'm not sure what happened with installation, but above the chair rail, there were all these bumps and bubblesI pointed that our with the arrow, because that's what really annoyed me.

My mum filled all of the wood grain and panel lines before sanding and coating in four coats of paint. Four. She even primed, knowing it'd suck up a lot of paint.  The final coats were in BM's Simply White, the same color we use for the baseboards and trim throughout the house.  I followed around on the walls with BM's Greenwich Village.  It's green with some gray to keep the room from too much color when it doesn't get much light.

Zach and his brother then followed us both the next weekend, installing new baseboards and quarter-round to match the rest of the house.  

When he was done with that, I caulked the baseboards and the bumpy line above the chair rail before painting a final coat.  I'm interspersing these words with after shots.  The difference astounds me.

The difference the painted paneling and walls make is the biggest game changer in here.  The room feels better.  It feels welcoming, cozy.  

The towel hooks we made from black piping and wood scraps fit nicely with the handmade wood accents in the room.  Before, I was worrying they looked too handmade, with my trial-and-error stain and paint process that I also used on the front bench.  I really like them now.

This is my favorite picture:

The headboard pops so nicely on the green wall.  The crisp, classic baseboard underneath makes me so happy.  I do need a duvet cover.  There's still a good amount of work to be done in here (to include a closet door - but I've already got the request in for a sliding track much like our pallet door). 

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