Monday, April 30, 2012

Staining the Fence

Wanna know a great way to lose an extra few pounds and your mind at the same time??  No?  No one else wants to go crazy too?  Well, it's a rhetorical question, so I'm gonna tell ya anyways!

Decide the afternoon before one of your best friends is coming in town with her 9 week old baby to restain your entire 400 linear foot fence.  All while the house is a disaster.  I at least started on it while Kalia was napping, and she thankfully took a two hour nap before waking up!  Chris was on baby duty while I finished up.

We're re-sodding the back yard (post soon!), which is one of those projects where in order to do that correctly, you have to get other things done.  If anyone has ever stained a fence, you know that the stain kills anything and everything around it.  So I wanted to stain before we re-sodded.  So at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, I started.

Here's what the fence looked like previously :

We installed it when we first moved in...literally that first week.  I don't know why we thought that would be a good task to take on ourselves, but it's one of the few things I wouldn't do again.  Building an entire fence with two people while you're moving is quite a bit of work!   I did one coat of stain on it a few weeks after we built it, and never got around to doing the second coat.  I actually started staining using a paint brush, and only made it about 12 ft before Chris came home with a spray gun and let me know that was absolutely ridiculous.

The sprayer is so so much quicker and nicer, but it's a pain to clean.  We've got a system that works for us -I stain the fence, Chris cleans the sprayer.  My legs were sore sore sore from staining this.  In order to keep your stain from streaking, you have to do nice and even coats, which means you need to go up and down the fence panel with your sprayer.  I think I did about 1000 squats.

But hey, my sisters wedding was yesterday, and I've been trying to get back into pre-Kalia shape for it!  I get my workouts where I can these days!

The work was definitely worth's what the fence looks like now :

Chris snapped up a few action shots of me moving my stain.  As always, Kodi was helping!

Chris : "smile!!"  Me : "Seriously?!?!"
And here's a good one to show you a side by side comparison of before and after with what a huge difference the new stain makes!

I promise it'll look so much better when the sod is actually laid instead of that huge dirt patch that's in the back.  Stay tuned for a post on that!  We do have one area of grass that's decent in the back, so here's what our nicely stained fence will look like once we get finished installing the sod :

We're actually on a big kick to get a lot of the exterior projects to the house while it's not too terribly hot out.  Anyone that lives in Florida knows that doing a ton of exterior house projects in the middle of the summer can be brutal!

Anyone else getting exterior projects done while the weather is still nice, and not too hot?  I have a feeling the hot summer months are going to slip up on us before we know it!

Happy Monday everyone!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow up Friday : Kalia's Bookshelves

I'm not sure if I'm going to keep up with this idea of follow up Friday, but I get a lot of questions and emails on the same posts, so I'm going to attempt to answer them all at once here.

A lot of you guys became readers because of all of our hard work with Kalia's nursery, and especially her bookshelves.  They are honestly one of my favorite things in her nursery, and I absolutely love everything that we did in there, so that says a lot!

Without further ado, answers to some of your most burning questions...errr...this is a family blog, promise!
  • How far apart did you space the bookshelves?
    • They are 13.5 inches from the bottom of one shelf to the bottom of the next.  I took the largest book we had (12 inches) and added 1.5 inches for some head room.  I didn't want there to be a lot of extra space.  I like the look of the bookshelves completely filled.
  • What length are the book shelves?
    • 5 feet long.
  • What about climbing?  That would never work in my house, I have too active of children!
    • Kalia's climbing, and has been for a little while.  She's just now starting to understand the word "no".  We can pull with all of our might on those bookshelves, and they don't budge.  We screwed them into the studs in the wall.  Each shelf has two screws.  After we screwed them in, I covered the hole with caulk, lightly sanded it, added another coat of white on top of the installed bookshelf, and another top coat of poly.  We consider those shelves built-ins.  If we ever leave the house, they stay with it.
  • What size screws did you use?
    • I'm actually not 100% positive on this answer, but I can give you a minimum that you should use.  You need to use screws that are long enough to get through the shelf (3/4"), the drywall (1/2"), and into the stud (1/2"), so I would go with at least a 2 1/2 inch screw.  I think we used 3" ones.
  • How far from the wall are the start of the bookshelves?
    • ~ 2 inches.  Most walls are not straight though, so make sure you use a laser level and mark points along the way.  That way they all line up with each other, even if they vary slightly from the distance off the wall.  We started the bottom one 2 inches off from the wall, and did the laser level from there.

As for how Kalia likes them, she loves them as well.  She pulls off the books that she wants to look at, flips through them, then says "all done" and we clap our hands when we put them back on the shelf.  She's just starting to learn how to put things back.  Even when she leaves books on the floor, it takes a maximum of three minutes to put them back on the shelf.  As any mother knows, most babies leave a wake of destruction wherever they go, so whether it's in her room or in her playroom (post on that soon!), it's all the same to me!

Do you see the blue cushions poking out from the corner above?  Here's a closer look :

I added floor cushions that used to live in my living room for a little nook for Kalia.  I snapped a few pictures of her 'reading' on different days.  Such a big girl already!  Happy baby = happy Momma!

Because Kalia hasn't learned how to "respect paper" yet, we have all of her hard, edible books on the bottom two shelves.  She can only reach those, so those are her safe books that are pretty indestructible.  The shelves above that are for books that we read to her either early in the morning, before nap times, or before bedtime.  She honestly doesn't have much patience for long books other than her wind down time.

Are there any other questions on her bookshelves that I left out?  Feel free to ask, and I'll update the list above with answers!

Happy Friday everyone, hope you guys have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Painting the House Part 3 : The Front

I would love to have titled this Painting the House Part 3 : The End, but we still haven't finished painting.  We just haven't finished the final side that is pretty close to our neighbors house.  You can barely see it when you turn the corner, and painting with a new baby is quite challenging.

When we first moved into this house (April of '09), I wasn't blogging.  I don't have a great before picture of where we started, but I did find the listing agents picture from when we bought the house.  This picture is actually a lot nicer than what we really moved into.  After we went under contract, they stopped watering the yard or pulling the weeds, so everything that was supposed to be green was dead, and everything that was supposed to be dead (weeds) were over grown.  
We installed a 400 linear foot fence around our yard that very first week we moved in, and very shortly after that did some landscaping to the front, to wind up with this :

The new landscaping made our front yard feel so much bigger and less cluttered.  The paint color wasn't bad, but it kind of felt like a dull concrete color, and I knew we could brighten it up.  It also wasn't the best paint job - you could tell they only did one coat instead of two.  And the previous color that they covered up was pink.  Just like the pool deck before we redid it.  I think one of the previous owners thought she lived in a Barbie house.  ("I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world" just got stuck in my head!)

Anywho, painting this big of a house with Kalia was a bit of a challenge, but we still managed to get it done.  It just took a little bit longer than most things.  We also had a friend come over and help (thanks Chris!), which was amazing.  Chris did most of the big stuff, and I did most of the trimming during Kalia's naptimes.  If she woke up while we were painting, she happily laid under those palm trees and kicked around.

Thank goodness we tackled painting the front before she got way would she do that now!

And after so much work, here's what the front of our house looks like today :

Ignore the spray paint and the not so healthy grass.  Of course when I went to go take pictures of this, the cable company had to do work right across the front of our home.  I wasn't waiting to take pictures again!

From the landscaping, to the new doors, house numbers, lighting, and finally the paint, we're both really proud of how much work we've done, and how much better it looks!

Oh, and did you notice the blue ceiling in the entryway?  We really love the blue ceiling that we painted out on the pool deck when we started this whole house painting project forever ago, and decided to carry it through to the front.  And yes, the pendant is missing.  We finally found one that we both really like and won't break the bank this week, so I just need to order it.  Don't worry though, I'll be sure to update you guys when it comes in and we install it!

Minus the pendant, the one remaining thing out here that drives me bonkers is that fountain.  It is getting redone, hopefully sooner rather than later!

For those of you curious about the details, we used Behr's Exterior Paint in Satin.  The house color is Sandstone Cove, the trim is just their basic Ultra White, the garage doors are Harvest Brown, and the ceiling is Tide Pools.  Home Depot runs promotions on a regular basis of $20 off the big 5 gallon buckets, so we snagged up enough paint to do the entire house on one of those sales.

So what do you think of our new bright exterior?  So much work, but so worth it!

Hope everyone is having a great week so far - Happy Wednesday!
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Painting the House Part 2 : Lighting

First off, thank you guys so much for your kind words about Kalia and my previous post.  It's so nice to be welcomed back into the blogging world with open arms!  Your kind words really do mean the world to me.

As promised, here's a project post!

When we got to the front of repainting the house, we knew we needed to do something about the sconces.  (As a side note, I had to google that to not call them scones.  Apparently my subconscious is really craving a pastry right now!)  They were the original builder grade ones and had paint chips and rust all over them.  In order to spray paint them, I knew we'd have to take all four of them completely apart, which I was definitely dreading.  So we did some searching for new ones to buy, and the cheapest ones that I only sort of liked were $50/piece.  Well, for $200, I could deal with the hassle and work with what we already had.  It's funny how the price savings can be a huge motivator!

Here's what we started off with :
Look at all that rust!!
We carefully took apart all four lights, sanded down the chipped paint parts, and wound up with about a million pieces to be spray painted.  The picture below is only close to half of everything that needed to be spray painted.
Because of all of the rust, and because we live in Florida where exterior things get pretty beat up on, I went ahead and sprayed these with both a primer and then the actual color, which was a paint and primer in one.  I have no desire to ever take these lights apart again to redo this project!  Here's what I used :
I also think the primer is cheaper than the paint color, and I only needed two light coats of the actual oil rubbed bronze.  There was a garage sale in our neighborhood when I was working on these, and we had several people stop by asking if the lights were for sale.  Too funny!  We've had numerous neighbors compliment us on our new lights too, and they're shocked to find out that we spray painted them.

The key, as with everything paint related, is to do really light coats.  Like so light that you're worried you're not getting enough coverage.  It dries really quickly and you can do another coat right on top to get the coverage you need.  My general rule with most things I spray paint is to never hold the trigger down for more than 5 seconds.  It's so easy to want to do a thick coat to just be done with it, but you'll regret it in the long run.  Trust me on this one!

Here's what they look like today :
and here's what it looks like with our house numbers that we added to the front almost a year ago (really, a year?!?  Is this how life is with babies?  Where did the time go?!).
Which is so much better than the ugly off white, rusted lights that were there previously, and they tie in so much better with our front door hardware too!
The pictures of the finished product give you a sneak peak at our finished paint job.  Stay tuned for that post!

So what do you think?  Worth the $200 in savings?  I actually started to tackle that fountain that has driven me bonkers since we moved in three years ago this weekend, but then the rain storms came in before I could get very far.  Hopefully I get to cross that one off the to-do list shortly too!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Happy Monday!
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Friday, April 20, 2012


Gosh, how I've missed this blog...

I write posts in my head to it all of the time. Occasionally I sit down and actually start a post on a project, but then Kalia wakes up from her naps and needs me, and the moment and train of thought are gone. To be completely honest, I kind of have writers block with this blog right now. I mean, where do I start off? Do I just talk about my projects and ignore the fact that I've been M.I.A? Do I tell you about what I've been doing in the meantime?

For those of you that are strictly here for projects, those posts are coming. We've done so much to the house over the past few months, all of which I do plan on posting about.

For those of you that have emailed and commented asking how things are going, this post is for you.

Last month was a big one. I quit my job, turned 30, and became a stay at home Momma. I'm breast feeding Kalia, and she's never taken a bottle. So working (albeit from home, which was both nice and a nightmare at times) while being my little girls sole source of nutrition left me at the breaking point a few times. My sister in law asked how I was doing with it one day and I told her it was like a juggling act, but I kept dropping all of the balls. I didn't feel like I could give 100% to either work or Kalia, so something had to give. Being an Electrical Engineer isn't exactly a mind-numbing career, and trying to design and debug computer chips while nursing Kalia was just...beyond challenging.

I am so blessed and fortunate that we're in the position for me to walk away from my job. One of the reasons we waited 5 years before starting to build on our mini family was so that I could take this option if I wanted to. If you knew me in high school or college, I used to say I was never getting married and never having kids. I've got a million private reasons why I used to say that, but the bottom line was I hadn't met the right man that I could see forever with. And then when I did meet him, I wanted to make sure we were solid before expanding. I honestly don't think I ever realized how amazing all of this could be.

Now don't get me wrong, Motherhood is much more challenging than I ever thought possible, but it is also much more rewarding. So much more rewarding!

As for Kalia, she's growing like a weed and doing all sorts of fun things these days. She is 10 months old and started taking her first steps last week. She can crawl faster than Kodi can walk, is very energetic, doesn't sleep a lot, eats a ton, is quite animated, laughs a lot, is a complete goof ball, and is like a bull in a china closet when she plays. She's every bit our daughter, and there's not a single thing I would change about her. Well, maybe I'd like it if she slept a little bit more, but I can say she comes by it honestly!

So for all of the holidays I've missed on posting about, Kalia says :

Happy Thanksgiving!

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy 30th Birthday Mommy!

and finally...Happy Easter!

Thanks for all of the sweet emails checking in. I promise project posts are coming up next! Hope everyone has been doing well, and I'm excited to 'be back'!

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