While He Sleeps….

October 26, 2011 07:58 by ehouston


…I sneak off and this is what happens…

It would be so nice to have a “before” and “after” shot for you of all the projects that are currently under way around here, but so far things are still in process.  I did want to offer up a sneak peak….


I drug this thing home from the thrift store yesterday and although I promised The Mister that I would just clean it up and put it in place, it was a lie.  Right now Senor Mini- Hutch is sitting, unassembled in the garage.  But it does have a first coat of stain at least!  I can’t wait to get this finished up and set in place.  Next step will be to figure out what exactly to display in those glass cases….don’t you love getting a reflective glimpse of all the crud in our garage?  nice!

The Little Guy also talked me in to going a different direction for his Halloween costume this year.  Here is a shot of where we are so far. 


Can you figure out what he will be?  Stay tuned for an update early next week.

One last thing, I think I have our table trays for the Family Room all figured out.  Hint, it involves one of these…


I know, I know, you are totally shocked that I am using another diaper box in a project, right? 

Yeah, right!

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Gardening–Our Veggie Patch

June 22, 2011 05:45 by ehouston

As you may recall, last year I mentioned that we planted a few veggies in an old planting bed behind our house and next to our back deck.  It wasn’t a pretty sight at all, with rotting railroad ties and dirt spilling out the unfinished end toward the deck.  You can jog your memory here and check out a super cute, rolly-polly fat baby helping me with the harvest while you are at it. 



Here are some shots from the deck pre-planting in 2010.  The bed stretched all the way to the pavers at the garage door stoop.  Just beyond the pavers you can see our Rubbermaid tool shed.  (Lovely, I know!)

This year I decided to get off my duff and make a slightly nicer raised bed to house our mini crops.  Of course, as soon as I started discussing my plans with The Mister, he suggested I add another planting bed on the other side of our garage door.  Initially I had been convinced that I could just plant other things in the sunny spots around the yard and harvest when ready.  He reminded me of the deer that live in the woods to one side of our property, coupled with the plethora of chubby squirrels would result in nada if I didn’t keep my edible plantings near the house.  He was right (don’t tell him I said that) because I have been losing strawberries to something that I’m guessing is a squirrel or rabbit just before they are ripe enough to pick.  What’s funny about this dilemma is that the Little Guy and I will spot the ripening fruit and decide to give it one more day to sweeten up and the next day it’s gone!  I am sure whichever animal is taking our goods is watching and listening to our every move when we are out back tending to our little veggie patch.

Ok, back to the details.  With calculating help from The Mister, I decided to build two boxes 4’ X 8’ with corner posts extending down about 6” into the ground.  Basically we went to Home Depot and bought 6 - 12” X 8’ boards and cut two of them in half to create the short sides of the planters.  Then we bought 2-  10 foot  4” X 4” posts to cut down for the corner pieces of the planters.  Don’t double check the math too closely on this one.  We messed up and ended up with more post wood than we needed.  It didn’t help that I changed my original length to 18” posts instead of 24” as recommended by a DIY site I glanced before going to the store.  All was well in the end because I used the leftover wood to help construct a new landing pad from our back garage door. 

I used our compound miter saw to cut the 4” X 4” posts down to 18” in length and to give them an angle on one end to help ease them into the ground.  Then I simply laid my pieces out in the yard, forming a large rectangle, and used 1.75” deck nails to screw the whole thing together.  Piece of cake.  The hardest part for me was just moving the longer sides of the lumber around because they were super heavy.  Then, once the frames were built I had to do a crazy shimmy, shimmy with them up on one end to get them in place.  I know the neighbors had a good time watching me almost kill myself while trying to do all of this on my own.  Once they were in place over the beds I had pre-dug, I just backfilled them and then added more soil to bring the level up to about two inches from the top of the side rails.

I finished the raised beds two weeks before Easter and placed the last few plants the week following Easter weekend.  Here are some shots of the progress at the beginning of June.


A similar view to the before shots from the deck above.  This new raised bed sits next to the deck and to the left of the garage door.  You can see our leggy spinach and some pretty nice lettuce already coming in.  I put sunflowers along half of the back and the other half of the back side is planted with green beans.


Above you can see the carrots coming up, along with some sage.  I put a “stepping” stone with my son’s handprint over the plumbing drain that could not be covered up.  Now there is a nice, useable opening to the coiled hose between the deck steps and the planting area.


Old bed plantings circa 2010.


New bed plantings for 2011.  As you can see the new beds are smaller.  I wanted to keep the dirt pulled away from the brick foundation and make a little more space on the ends for walking around the bed.  It’s still just big enough to be hard to reach the center, but with my height and long arms it’s still possible.


Just on the other side of the garage door is the totally new bed.  I moved the storage shed down the wall toward the driveway, creating a nice little pocket between the neighbor’s view and our garden, where we can hide our safety orange wheelbarrow (a $7.00 yard sale score, so the color mattered little.)  The concrete pavers from our old garage door stoop were recycled as a stable, raised base for the new storage shed location, and so far the inside has remained pretty dirt free.  Yeah!  I planted some yellow squash along the left side of the back, just in front of a line of sunflowers that spans the entire length of this bed.  On the very end of the bed I planted some cucumbers, with the idea that they would end up trailing out and around the edge of the bed, rather than across all the other plantings.  The small plants in front of the squash and to the right of the cukes are basil and cilantro.  I intended to transplant the seedlings to the other bed once the spinach and lettuce had their fun.


On the opposite end of this bed I have the tomatoes, green peppers and jalapenos.  Sprinkled around the bottom are marigolds and some thyme runs along the front edge.  The rickety looking metal fencing you see along portions of both beds are in place to keep the dog out.  For some reason she thinks she needs to lay in the cool dirt of my freshly tilled garden, so I have to do ugly things to keep her out.  I also learned that toddlers like to join their big sister dog in rolling in the dirt, so the fencing has served two purposes.


This shot shows the new back stoop, with a trellised pot of sugar snap peas and marigolds, plus two pots of strawberries (the ones that keep getting eaten!).  The overturned pot tray that doesn’t make any sense was left alone because our resident toad has been using it as a house.  Plus, he scares the be-jezzus out of me every time I go to move it.  It’s yours Mr. Toad, all yours!  (Yes, that is Miss Roxy poking her head out of the dog door.  She always hams it up when she sees a camera!)

One last share and I will wrap up this novel of a post.  As you could see in the before shots way up at the top, the garage door stoop consisted of concrete pavers set in a rotting wooden box of sand.  The pavers looked really bad and had been inching their way out of the wooden frame since we arrived at this home.  Plus, the wonderful workers at Verizon were kind enough to run (through a flower bed, mind you) the wires for our cable and FIOS all of about 5 inches into the dirt and across our backyard.  I was blow away in 2010 when I discovered them laying so close to the surface.  I knew to be careful when digging, but I was sure they would be further down.  Lucky for us, I did not slice through anything, but to save a headache in the future for us or other owners we decided to extend the back stoop into a spacious landing, and cover up those wires with something no one would likely be digging in to.  I used 4” X 4”’s again to create a simple frame at 4’ X 7’ and rather than screwing them to each other, I drilled holes and pounded 12” long bolts through and into the ground at the board ends.  This might not last for eternity, but it seems pretty stable for now.  Then I added a couple more bags of sand and about 5 bags of gravel to level this area off and create a mud free zone.  To make a little bit nicer path to the door I added large flagstone pieces, which also match the pathway from our driveway to the front steps.  See!  Some thought did go in to this!  Anywho, eventually I would like to create some kind of panel to hinge across the utilities.  You know, a door type thing that can be opened and closed in order to hide their ugliness.  In the mean time I decided to position a trellised pot with snap peas in front of this messy part of the wall.  Plus, the pots add visual interest by the back door.

It’s still a work in progress and I will share more photos the beginning of next month.  But, I just wanted to let you all see how things are coming along so far back there this year.  Pretty big change since we took over this little patch of Earth, eh?

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DIY–Dining Room Lighting

December 1, 2010 09:13 by ehouston

So, we have ended up here again…


Although we really loved the IKEA light that I put up about a month ago, it just felt to big.  No matter how much it had grown on us, we had to admit it seemed to be pushing the limits of the space. 


Plus, a week after purchasing the PS Maskros ceiling light I found out that IKEA had just come out with a smaller version.  Open palm, hand to forehead and in the words of Homer Simpson, DOH!  So, I disassembled the beast and drove up to Woodbridge, VA to make the exchange.  I guess they measure things a different way in Sweden because the smaller version was supposed to be 22 inches as opposed to the 32 incher that we had already tried out, but it looked itty bitty.  So small, in fact, that you would really need two or three to have any kind of impact in our dining room.  They also did not have the other new fixture I had seen online, the PS Vava

IKEA PS VÄVA Pendant lamp natural Diameter: 21 " Height: 8 " Cord length: 5 ' 11 "  Diameter: 53 cm Height: 19.5 cm Cord length: 1.8 m

We looked all over, but could not find it.  So, with our stomachs full of meatballs and lingonberry jam we hung our heads and left the store in a bit of a huff.   I was SOOO disappointed!

Despite the lighting let down this shopping trip was not a total bust.  My mom came along for her maiden voyage to IKEA, so that in itself was  a lot of fun.  She also helped Santa out and bought the Little Guy the DUKTIG mini kitchen as an early Christmas gift.

DUKTIG Mini-kitchen  Width: 28 3/8 " Depth: 15 3/4 " Height: 22 7/8 "  Width: 72 cm Depth: 40 cm Height: 58 cm

He has already learned that he can remove the sink and then throw things down into the cupboard below.  Things like, real food out of our pantry, or the telephone, or the remote control to the TV.  It’s always a scavenger hunt with a 15 month toddler running around this joint!  At least for the time being I can pretty much guess where he is keeping his booty.

I was also thrilled to score the fabric (KAJSASTINA) for our bedroom window treatments. 

KAJSASTINA Fabric gray/white Width: 59 "  Width: 150 cm

On our last adventure to IKEA I was almost in tears to find out that they did not even have enough fabric for one window, let alone two and a hall pass-thru curtain.  I was so afraid that they were not going to get any more since they had a bunch of stuff marked “Last Chance”.  Luckily this time they had plenty and I was able to check this item off my “Stuff We Need” list.  Although the bedroom DIY project is a long way from even being started I have yet to find any other window treatment fabric that I really like and that The Mister likes too.  Also it was only $6.99 per yard, so you can’t beat that!  Well, you can…it was another early Christmas gift from my wonderful Mommasita!

Okay, so back to the issue at hand, the dining room lighting.  We decided to go for the Bel Air Lighting 6-light Chrome Traditional Chandelier from Lowe’s and I hope to install it soon. 

Bel Air Lighting 6-Light Chrome Traditional Chandelier

I started taking the pieces out of the box yesterday, but realized it might be to heavy for me to put up all alone.  I am thinking I better wait until The Mister can help me out this weekend.  As soon as we get the light installed I will post some shots to find out what you guys think.  It’s definitely not as whimsical or fun as I would have liked, but it is a little more modern. 

Did you guys have any shopping adventures, good or bad, over the holiday weekend?

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Making And Crafts–Diaper Box Hamper

November 17, 2010 08:05 by ehouston

As you may imagine we have lots of diaper and baby wipe boxes around here.  (Yeah, I like the idea of being all environmental and stuff, but for our lifestyle disposable is the way to go.  Sorry Treehuggers!)  Anyways, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, boxes.  Lot’s of boxes.  I have a thing about containers and have a hard time getting rid of perfectly good ones.  Unfortunately, a lot of diaper boxes are a bit on the smaller side or just way to big for practical application.  The other con is that they also usually have a large amount of printing on all sides, making them a stand out among otherwise clean and organized storage.  We have accumulated a large number of the Target, Up & Up, Size 3, 96 count diaper boxes and they have been very useful for storing odds and ends, but mainly they have helped us build a mean fort or two from time to time.

Next to playtime and storage solutions there are not many other things I could think of to do with these guys, aside from relinquishing them to the recycling bin.  Then after using one of the baby wipe boxes as a hamper for what seemed like an eternity while I tried to decide on a more permanent option,  I realized that one of the larger diaper boxes could be used instead and prettied up quite a bit.  It also helped that I seem to always come across bits and pieces of contact paper that are just the amount I need for the project at hand.  So, in the end I was able to take this situation…


…and turn it into this more aesthetically pleasing scenario.


I started out with the box on the left.  Please note that I ended up using the new 144 count size box, which was much better than the wipe box and the smaller diaper box for holding all the things the Little Guy gets dirty.


After cutting the top flaps down to about 2 inches I then used some of my trusty ol’ Martha Stewart Wood Grain Contact Paper in Gray and covered the outside of the box on all sides.  The patterned paper was perfect for covering up and disguising the crawling baby and bright yellow of the original packaging.  I also cut around the handle slits so we could still use them for carrying the hamper to the laundry room.  Next I used plain white Contact Paper to wrap the edges of the cut down top flaps to give them a more finished look.  I started on what would have been the top side, then wrapped it around what was the inside of the top flap and down the inside top edge of the box. 


The shot above shows one side of the top flap has been covered in white Contact Paper and then I flipped it down and glued it in place to create a sort of wrapped top edge.  Again, just to add some interest and take away from the fact that it’s ultimately just an old cardboard box.  As you can see I used trusty clothes pins to hold the flaps in place while the glue dried.

After wrapping each of the cut down top flaps and gluing them into place I was left with a gap at each corner.  Luckily I had the forethought to wrap a small square of the “wood grain” Contact Paper up and over each corner of the box before gluing down the top flaps.  Those little squares of Contact Paper covered the exposed cardboard and bright yellow in that area, as seen in the pic below.  In an attempt to give the corners a little more oomph I also added rectangles of cardboard that I cut from the scraps of the box flaps.


(This was one of my first attempts and you can see in the shot above that I did not wrap that little square of Contact Paper over the corner before gluing down the top flaps.  The cut cardboard and original packaging color show through, so in my next attempt I took a little more time in this area.)

I wrapped the corner pieces in white Contact Paper, folded them around the corner of the box and attached them with regular old paper fasteners.  You know, the kind that you push through a hole and then fold back the “legs” to sort of manually staple papers together.


You can see the corner pieces a little better in the shot above.  They are a bit wonky, but they work.  As you can also see from this angle, I added wooden feet that I painted with the leftover dark brown paint from the floor trim in the nursery.  In order to keep them sturdy and well attached, I cut a piece of cardboard from the side of another diaper box and placed it in the bottom of the hamper.  I then slid the screw through a large flat metal washer before pushing it through the bottom of the hamper.  I added another washer on the under side right before screwing the whole shebang directly into the painted wooden ball feet.  So far they have held on very well.  The last thing I did was line the inside with more white Contact Paper.  After a few days of looking down into the box and seeing where the wrapped Contact Paper stopped along the top edge of the hamper and the ends of the paper fasteners sticking through, I realized I needed to clean things up a bit.  Once the Contact Paper was in place the whole hamper really came together.

It definitely is a much better view into the Little Guy’s room now. 


The best part was that all the pieces were laying around our house already, so this was a ZERO cost craft!  WHOOHOO!

Have you all ever repurposed something disposable and made it more of a permanent part of your home?

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DIY–The Dining Room Lighting Debate Continues

November 16, 2010 09:19 by ehouston

I thought I had it all worked out.  I was determined to add a bit of whimsy into our stuffy and traditional space even though my head told me that it would be a tear out for resale.  Since I have only owned one other home and decorated the entire thing with the next buyer always in mind I had decided to make this second home a place that showed more of our personal taste.  I figure that since we aren’t planning any major remodels (no tearing down walls or gutting of any bathrooms or even the kitchen) it seemed fine to add decorative elements that could easily be changed or painted over, seeing as how the cost would be much lower.  That way we can have our traditional colonial home on the outside with a fun wink on the inside.  So far I have done very little to change the look of any of the interior, aside from the nursery and the dining room, but the ideas keep piling up.  Hopefully the new year will bring more opportunity for décor change- YEAH!  (We have a guest bathroom that is just screaming out for hideous wallpaper removal!)

As you may remember with the dining room makeover-in-progress one of our “undone” items was the glorious chandelier.


(It really doesn’t matter how pretty the wall color turned out or how fresh the new curtains look when you have this thing hanging in the center of the room.)

I had been searching for a replacement from the moment we moved in, only to find that everything I liked was a total budget buster.  Not to mention that most of the lighting I am drawn to is sort of odd and different.  Again, something that we would probably have to remove for resale, but not necessarily something that will fit in the next home.  Rather than going through the hassle of having to move or sell a fixture, I then attempted to tame things down a notch and look for more traditional pieces with a modern twist.  Again, I ran into a problem with cost, but more than that I ran into issues with color.  It seemed liked every traditional-with-a-modern-twist fixture I came across had shades in off-white or cream and the room calls for bright white.  The other issue was metal finishes in burnished copper, antiqued bronze, rusty metal.  All very nice, but not the look I really wanted for this space.  I gave up on the search for a while and then resumed it recently after entering Lowe’s and seeing this:

Bel Air Lighting 5-Light Polished Chrome Contemporary Chandelier

Bel Air Lighting 5 Light Polished Chrome Contemporary Chandelier (Very original name, right?)

This particular light seemed a bit to fancy, but was so fun I have to admit I have looked at it several times since first spotting it.  The $159.00 price tag makes it a winner as well.

Bel Air Lighting 6-Light Chrome Traditional Chandelier

Bel Air Lighting 6-light Chrome Traditional Chandelier  (Gosh!  These names!  Where do they come up with them?)

I am still strongly considering this one because it’s simple, yet it plays to the castle theme that The Mister would love to over indulge throughout our home.  This way I could please him and keep the faux exposed brick walls and turrets at bay.  Plus, it’s still under the $200.00 mark at $189.00.

Now, this last one I found while looking through and I have to say I like it a lot too. 

Portfolio 5-Light  Brushed Nickel Chandelier

Portfolio 5-light Brushed Nickel Chandelier   It’s the simplest of the three and I think it falls into the realm of “classic”…maybe?

Well, with all these simple chandeliers in mind I still had my heart set on something different.  Something fun and a little bit crazy.  One of those décor elements that you might gasp at with the first glance and think, “ooh, that’s just wrong”, only to later decide it’s just right.  I actually did just that after the installation was complete and I am still debating the new dining room light.


(Sorry for the terrible pics.  We have not had much sun at all lately.)

It’s the PS Maskros ceiling light from IKEA.  And, it’s only $89.00 bucks a pop!  Woot to the Budget!!

IKEA PS MASKROS Pendant lamp  Diameter: 32 " Cord length: 71 "  Diameter: 80 cm Cord length: 180 cm

The only downside is that it only holds one 75 watt bulb, so we aren’t getting a lot of overhead light from this guy.  However, I do plan to bring in a side piece of furniture to act as a bar and it will also hold a lamp or two.  In addition, I am considering adding sconces to the far end of the room to help out with the lack of light in here.  The other thing is the enormous size of the sphere.  I laughed when I put this together because I had thought the old brass chandy was SO BIG, but this thing is 32 inches in diameter!  I think the fact that it’s a perfect sphere makes it seem even larger.  So, at this point I am undecided about keeping the light and may end up going back to one of my other, simple design choices.


(I do love the play of pattern on the ceiling!)

Unfortunately, I just recently came across this light while looking through and I am torn all over again!  AHAHAHAHAAAAHHHHHH!!!

IKEA PS VÄVA Pendant lamp natural Diameter: 21

PS Vava  Bee-uty-full!

Now, I just need to make a decision and then get to work on the awful table.

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DIY – Our Wedding

September 29, 2010 07:56 by ehouston

Before wrapping up September and getting on with fall, I thought I would send out a little tribute to the one I love.  This month actually trumps February as the month of love around here since it’s the month The Mister and I tied the knot.  I never expected to be saying I just celebrated my 12th year of marriage a couple of weeks ago, but here we are!  I was not one of those little girls who planned out my wedding from start to finish all the while dreaming of the perfect gown.  In fact, I originally suggested a quick trip to Vegas and nuptials any where with Elvis as the officiate.  Fortunately, my soon to be Mister wanted to have a true celebration with family and friends…many friends.  Oh let’s face it, we were young and this was going to be one hell of a party!

Since we were young, in our mid-twenties to be exact, we had all of about two sticks to rub together and nothing more to make this day happen.  So, with part time jobs and side jobs under our belts we took on the task of hand making all the parts that we could handle.  The invites, the dress, the cake, flowers, decor…we pulled it all together for roughly $4400.00.  This was a monumental task when you consider the fact that we had no idea what went into an event like this.  Also, this was the late 90’s and I was barely able to turn on a computer.  Of course the internet existed, but was nothing like it is today for gathering ideas.  So, I pulled together a couple of Martha Stewart Wedding edition magazines, along with some other home and fashion magazines and the yellow pages.  This is what we managed to come up with.

I had decided early on that I make that LOVED a butterfly headpiece that I had found in one of my random bridal magazines.  After some research I found out that said headpiece cost $5000.00!  Hey, that was only $600.00 more than we spent on the whole shebang!?!  Yikes!  So, I ended up finding some butterflies on wire at a local craft store and inserted them into my loose up do to create a simple crown. 


I also snagged some extra butterflies to poke into the flowers and cake decor.  After spying the mega-bucks butterfly headpiece in the magazine I also decided that the butterfly would be something I carried throughout the wedding plans.  Representing rebirth it seemed appropriate for a wedding and the start of a new life together.  For the invitations, I created an envelop that folded in from the sides and around our invite, plus directions, meeting in the middle.  Each side of the envelop had a wing shaped tab and when you slide them together they made a little butterfly on the front of the card.  (Unfortunately, over the years I have misplaced the copy I saved, otherwise I would have included it in the post.  Oh well.)  We were able to print our simple invite, which was on cream colored card stock, at home then cut them down to fit into the butterfly envelops, which were in pale blue.  Remember this all happened at a time when scrapbooking had not really come into it’s own and a lot of the tools that make this work super simple now did not exist, or were very hard to come by.  So, each one of those little envelops was traced out and cut painstakingly by hand.  (I don’t know what I was thinking.)  Invites, check!

The next DIY item on our list was my dress.  After combing through magazines, a few online catalog sites, and every pattern book in every local fabric store, I came up with a design I thought would be perfect.  I created a larger, loose fitting over dress in white raw silk with tank style straps and an empire waist.  There was a thin band of super pale pink that went just under the bodice and the back was open from the bodice down, tapering slightly away from the center.  The idea was that the over dress would hint at a different dress underneath.  I then created a completely different garment in very, very pale pink chiffon with pale pink satin ribbon trim around the hem.  This under dress had several layers, but was still very slim fitting with thinner tank straps and empire bodice.  It was essentially a thinner, lighter weight version of the overdress.  The main difference being that the back was gathered and scrunched just under the bodice, creating a layered ruffle look down the back and into a barely there train.  This part spilled out of the back of the over dress.  It was sort of ethereal and dreamy (at least that was what I imagined in my head.)  The idea I had was that I would wear the whole get up for the ceremony and then take the over dress off for the reception. 


However, I got so caught up in all the action that I never did get around to making that change.  No biggie…the party went on.  Dress, check!

We were lucky to stumble upon a little gem right outside of the city, Athens, GA, that we were living in at the time.  Watkinsville, GA is home to The Ashford Manor Bed and Breakfast, a quaint little B & B with lovely grounds.

(Pictures taken directly from the Ashford Manor Website)

The owners had just purchased the property the year before and were in the process of restoring the home and grounds to their former glory.  What that meant for us was an affordable rental rate and lots of perks like candles provided and lit at dusk throughout the garden and on all the tables.  Great Location, check!  The place was already wired for music and they kept simple classical CD’s in constant rotation.  Music, check!  Although fall was right around the corner the grounds were still quite lush and the pool out back, equipped with a large fountain, was crystal clear.  Decor, check! 

Nothing had to happen inside the house because the gentlemen that owned the place had already decked it out in wonderful, and very quirky antiques.  (See this pic from an earlier post.)

They were also kind enough to include the little separate guest cottage around the side of their home, which sits just across the yard from the main house, as a place for us to get ready for the big moment. 

Although we took full advantage of what the grounds and house had to offer for decor we did try to brighten up the brick wall at the back of the property, where the ceremony took place.  All the flowers we used came from either Lowe’s or Kroger and we bought them the week of the event.  We decided to go this route because we are pretty handy with planting and wrapping up some bouquets and boutonnieres.  Plus, using what was in stock at the time meant saving a ton on the cost of flowers.  We planted small mums and pansies in little metal paint cans that we purchased from Lowe’s.  We used them to line the staircases and ledge of the ceremony site.

Preparing the CeremonySite

(My mom adding some last minute touches to the flower buckets while the band gets warmed up in the background.)


(Here I am with my mom, and maid of honor, scoping the chair and flower placement before the long march to matrimony.  The metal sculpture in the foreground was one of many sculptures “planted” throughout the garden around the B & B.)

Later, the flower buckets were carried up to the main house by our wonderful and hard working family, to use as table decor. 


At the end of the night we asked guests that were interested to take a bucket home as a favor.

The wedding cake was also on my DIY list and we ended up using an Amish Friendship Cake recipe for both the cutting and for serving the guests.  I made one large Bundt cake that we cut and shared.  Then I made what seemed like a million mini-Bundt cakes for each guest.  The result was a sweet treat at the end of a nice meal, plus no one had to stand over the cake table and play server.  We placed the mini cakes on a tiered stand provided by the caterer and around the table.  Once placed we used an extra mixed flower bouquet from Kroger to add flowers to some of the cakes, make a small bouquet to place inside our larger Bundt cake and around the table, and up the tiered stand to help coordinate everything a bit. 


(The B & B had a cute little gazebo just off the front yard, where we had the tent and tables set up.  It was the perfect spot for the cake table.  My mom made the romantic netting to place over everything and to keep the bugs away.)


(Here we are moments before The Mister shoved cake up my nose.  What is with guys thinking this is a cute thing to do on your wedding day?)

Along with the flower buckets, we also made extra mini cakes to give as favors.  As per usual, I over estimated what we needed for the wedding cakes and ended up with so many extra mini cakes that we were eating them regularly for months.  When it came time for our first anniversary and the traditional bite of cake from the original ceremony we could barely stomach the taste.  I think we ended up wrapping it up, putting it back in the freezer and hoped to forget about it.

The only regrets of the day, if we can even say we have any, are that we did not get a professional photographer.  Hence, the crummy photos.  We hired a friend that made wonderful photographs, but it turned out she was way to mousey to orchestrate the typical scenes for wedding photography.  We specified that we wanted a more casual take on the day, but when we got our batch of shots a week later, I cried.  Things that should have been shot in full color were in black and white.  Most of the pictures of us were with our mouths open, talking or eyes closed due to the flash.  Some of the best shots came from my aunt, who went around along side the photographer to snap shots of family as they gathered together for the more formal portraits prior to the ceremony.  I thank God that she took the time to make those rounds because they ended up being much better than what our hired help provided.  (We have always been grateful for that Auntie B!  Thank you!)

Photography aside the only other issue was that the caterer ended up being crazy.  This is mostly a memory that sends us off into hysterical laughter, but there were moments when I just wanted to say, in the words of Donald Trump, “You’re Fired!”.  I made her acquaintance at a business function and her set up was gorgeous.  The business that had hired her was very complimentary of her work as well, so we took the plunge.  The red flags went up as soon as she decided to forgo the tasting as planned after we narrowed down what we were looking for in a buffet.  We only continued down the path with her because I had technically tasted her food before and it was delicious, plus all other caterer interviews had almost sent me over a cliff.  In a small town, it’s hard to find a really good caterer and the couple of well known companies in the area cost a pretty penny.  Since this was a DIY wedding, there were no pretty pennies to be had.  So, we went with the more affordable lady with the beautiful vegetable set up.  At the time The Mister and I were not big meat eaters and a large portion of our friends were vegetarian, so we were very excited about providing a large buffet with tons of yummy veggie treats.  Unfortunately, our caterer decided to change the plan the day of the reception and did not provide the set up we had agreed upon.  Again, I let it go because, hey, this was my day and I was not going to let this crazy lady ruin it for me.  Plus, what could I do about it at that point?  Even the three times she pulled me away from pre-ceremony portraits to ask questions about things we had already gone over in great detail weeks before, were not going to get my goat.  But, I finally laid down the law and told her we had finalized these decisions before hand so that I would not have to worry on the big day, and not to come to me any more.  I guess she got the hint because I did not hear from her again.  The additional red flags went up early on the day of the wedding when her “helpers" started laying out the tablecloths, china, glasses, etc. and you could hear them bickering over the rumble and thrum of all the busy beavers working away.  With all that was going on to get ready they were gossiping about their family, fighting with each other, talking about fighting with other family members and generally cussing up a storm.  It turns out the caterer only “hired” her family to assist and apparently she was not paying them well to help out.  Again, we can laugh about this now, but at the time I was mortified that we had not taken on third jobs to pay for the better catering company.  Chalk it up to you live, you learn.  Wah-wah…


(The kiss that sealed the deal that has lasted 12 years!  WhooHoo!)


Here we are immediately after the ceremony and just as we were thinking then, so far so good!  Hope to have waaaay more than 12 years on top of what we have already shared.

XOXO, Babe!

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY – The Dining Room : Finally Some Progress To Share!

August 18, 2010 04:19 by ehouston

For those of you wondering how long it takes to complete typical DIY work around your home, please read no further.  Move on now, nothing to see here.   …I have given up on estimating the timeline of a project and have decided just to go with the flow.  Once you add a kid in the mix, it’s all downhill from there.  Sorry to say, but my one to two week fix for the dining room in our 1992 Colonial has taken well over 2 months and has yet to be completed.  Since things are taking sooooo long, I thought I would share what I have done so far.  Because, it really is just some of the final finishes that are lacking.

Let’s start with the before shots:


This shot shows us making do with our old furniture, decor and the shears and shades that the previous owners left in place.


It’s hard to tell, but the wallpaper in this room was not only very dark green, but it also had a pattern like crushed leather.  It looked a lot like an old style ink blotter for a desktop.  At least that’s what we think the look was that they were going for.  Unfortunately, we were not “going for” the gentlemen’s library feel for our dining space.


This shot of the fireplace shows the trim work that appears to be an after thought.  It’s as though they just forgot about adding a mantle or something?  The previous owners gifted us the gold mirror.  mmmmm….


Here is the front wall of windows, a shot that we have posted before, showing our curtain fabric choices.  There is also another mirror that a relative gifted us many years ago.  This one is gold too, but with an antiqued wash.  Still not exactly our cup of tea.

As you may or may not remember, the first two big decisions we had to make for this space were paint colors and curtain fabric.  It took four samples from the home improvement store and four more mixed in baby food jars to get the right shade for the walls.  I ended up using the French Grey color chip that I found at Home depot, but mixed at Lowe’s with Valspar Eggshell finish paint, on the bottom portion of the walls.  I had a quart of the same color mixed with a high gloss paint for the chair rail and the trim around the floor just for a little contrast. 


Unfortunately the Antique Silver color was two muddy once I put it up on the walls and just did not have enough of a hint of blue for my taste.  So, I mixed it with the French Grey until I had just the right shade and had it color matched at Lowe’s.  I also wanted the upper walls to be darker than what the Antique Silver offered up against the deep blue grey of the bottom portion of the walls.  After getting the wall color completed I finished out the crown molding, window and door trim with glossy white Valspar paint.


We have not had many sunny days lately (or at least not when the sun comes around to this side of the house), so I have not been able to score a really good shot of the paint color to share.  Oh well…

As you can see from the wide room shot above, we decided to go with the Bird and Vine tablecloths from Dwell Studio for Target for our curtains.  After carefully cutting them in half, I sewed up the edge and then put a 1.5 inch hem in the top for some stability and then hemmed the bottoms to length for each window.  At $21.99 a pop, I would say these were a pretty cost conscious solution for the curtain panels. 

I also added more substantial wooden curtain rods with simple finials painted out in the same glossy white as the crown molding.  This piece of the project took a bit longer than expected because I ended up building my own rod system from the trim pieces you can purchase individually at Lowe’s and Home Depot.  Instead of buying the already finished curtain systems I opted for this more cost effective way to get exactly the size I wanted for a “high and wide” mounting.  Even though it was a pain to paint all these pieces I did save about a third of what I would have spent on the prefinished items.  I also found that many of the rods in the home improvement stores are either really bulky and large or kind of small and wimpy.  The Allen & Roth line at Lowe’s is quite nice, but their white pieces are actually sort of more ecru and looked dirty next to the glossy white of the other trim in the room.


And, although I prefer bamboo shades to wooden blinds I decided to go with the latter.  They are still not my favorite, but I figured they will stay with the house if we move and this home calls for a plantation blind or shutter look more than the that of bamboo shades.  Again, not my favorite, but I think the windows came out just fine anyway.




We decided to paint out the trim around the fireplace the same color as the crown molding.  It actually makes the grey streaks running through the marble look much better.  The surround also looks slightly less out of place or as an after thought.  My ideal fix for this wall would be to pull all the trim down from around the marble and use small glass tiles with a bit of shimmer from floor to ceiling just on this one angled wall.  I think that would be such a nice focal point for the room.  That is a far off in the future project, though, and we are quite happy with the paint job for now.  As soon as possible I will be spraying the gold trim piece, along with the rest of the gas insert surround, a mat black to further spruce up the fireplace area.

Another little project I have been wanting to tackle for years now was to paint the antiqued gold mirror white.  The color was never quite right and it is a bit ornate for our tastes, so we figured a nice coat of glossy white paint (same as the trim in the room) would help tone it down and play a little more nicely with the rest of the space.



NOW, for the elephant, or two, in the room.


This chandelier actually evoked hysterical laughter from The Mister and I when we were first looking at this home.  Granted, the previous owners had filled the space with big, bulky, dark wood period pieces, but this light always seemed over the top to us.  I have always looked at it as to large for the room, but I discovered I may be off in my thinking after a recent visit to a local decorator’s outlet.  I was told that the chandelier should meet the measurements of the room size, not the table below it.  Oops.  I was thinking the opposite, and now I realize that I think it’s just my general dislike for the shiny, brass that keeps me from accepting this guy as the right fit for the room.  I have considered spraying it out, but I believe it is a nice and probably costly piece of brass.  So, I think I may replace it with something more our taste, but leave it in the attic in case future owners want to restore this room to it’s former gentlemen’s library glory.  BTW (sorry Kelli)- It’s hard to tell from this picture, but this thing is nearly 30 inches across.  It’s HUGE!!!


The other issue is the table.  It is only a dinette size and was our extra game table at our last place.  I have dreams of relocating it to our spare bedroom upstairs that plays double duty as my craft space.  I think it will be the perfect size table for all my sewing and crafting needs.  In the meantime I have this crazy idea that I am going to craft my own table from plywood and paint it out white.  That way I can get the exact size I want and I don’t have to worry about matching the wood tones to anything else I put in here (something I gave up on long ago after acquiring the Danish made rosewood hutch).  I did finally settle on some simple chairs that are pretty comfy, plus I figured I could slipcover them for different looks if I want to in the future.  They are the bentwood modern stacking chairs from Target in the espresso finish.  Not only did these come in sets of two, but I was able to purchase them at a price cut for $59.99 a set.  WHOOHOO for the budget!

Hopefully, we will be able to stop playing “which of these things is not like the others” soon and take this room DIY completely off the list.  Stay tuned for the latest project I created for myself involving a piece of furniture to take up that empty space below the newly painted mirror.  I’m super excited about this one and I think it will really make the whole space!

Bon Appétit!

Kitsch Krafts

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