Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dogzilla strikes again

Just in time for Halloween, Dogzilla has struck again. This time, his unfortunate victim was my once-lovely wooden chimes. I wrote about them here.

I loved those things. They added calm and soothing atmosphere to our home.

But now they look like this:

I think the chimes fell down during our Minnesota hurricane last week, and Murphy took over from there. That means he's teamed up with Mother Nature. The world is in trouble.

The chimes (RIP) join the other unfortunate casualties of Murphy's trail of terror.

My pineapple tree:

The shrub:

The raspberry bush:

Our back yard:

When will he strike next? Our yard waits, in fear. It's definitely time to bring out the Bad Dog graphic.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Paintfest part II: More work than we bargained for

So we painted the living room, and it looks great. But this upgrade consequently caused our attached kitchen to look extra dingy. So we had to paint that too. Of course.

You may recall that our kitchen had some wallpaper from the previous owners. It may look as though it's just wall paper trim, but the tan wall on the far side is also wallpaper.

Before pics:

It seemed simple enough. Tear down the wallpaper and start painting. Just like we did upstairs.


This wallpaper did not want to come off our plaster walls. Rob, who is much more patient than me, spent two evenings after work spraying and scraping. Spraying and scraping. And more scraping. You get the idea.

We discovered, with horror, that the wallpaper on the tan wall was covering a sizable crack. This definitely threw a wrench into our plans. We decided to try and repair it rather than replace it. We pulled out our good old friend - Dry Dex Spackling.

And we used a LOT of spackling. Here's the wall after it had been spackled and sanded:

It looked a lot better after a coat of primer:

While I was priming the far wall and above the cabinets, Rob started to demo the light tile backsplash on the other side of the room.

Why did we get rid of it? We have a grand scheme for kitchen and living room tile, and we figured it'd be easier to get rid of it now rather than later.

Wrong again.

The wall behind the tile was left in a spotty, uneven mess. You guessed it. More spackling and sanding!

Since you can't sand it until it's completely dry, Rob's using a heat gun to speed up the drying process.


But it looked much better after sanding:

Note the white dust. This covered everything in our house by the time we were done. Mistake No. 3 - Not using plastic to close off the other rooms in the house.

Finally after 3 or 4 days of prep work, we were ready to paint. And this is such a small room that the painting itself was a quick job. We picked out another Behr paint + primer color, this time in Baja.

It seemed to go well with the color we'd used in the adjoining living room, Mocha Latte:

But now we aren't so sure. The color is so light that some angles make it look like a dirty white. We didn't want that at all. But we're not sure if we want to re-paint just yet. The lighting is our kitchen is admittedly very wack (yes, wack) because we have three off-centered lights in various positions. This causes some odd shadowing and general discoloration of anything in the room. So for now, we are going to wait until we replace the lighting. I think.

You never know. We could change our minds.

Anyway here's the room, all wallpaper-removed, spackled, sanded, primed, and painted (whew):

Recognize the apple photo? It's one I took back in May. And speaking of artwork, I realized you can see 3 more pieces on the right side of the photo above. These are some paintings I did a couple years ago. I was experimenting with minimal-material painting and used only black ink and gray paint on these.

And here's one more before and after, this one of the backsplash corner:

Remember, we are going to do another tile backsplash, but we wanted a clean slate (that's a hint) before starting that project.

Soooo... that is the anti-climatic before and after of our latest kitchen project. It took a lot more time and effort than we anticipated. But now the kitchen is ready for the next stage of the renovation. We've got a whole lot more planned for this space. I will tell you all about it... later.


Ok bye for now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Odds and ends

A week or two ago, the Pioneer Woman (aka PW aka my blogging hero) posted a photo editing challenge. I used to get really excited about the Pioneer Woman's photo contests. If you are not familiar, this is how it works. She posts a theme. Readers upload a photo that fits that theme. Then PW judges all the submissions and picks a few favorites. She posts her favorites. Then later she picks a favorite, and that person wins a prize. As I said, I used to get very excited about this. But after submitting for contest after contest after contest and never having a photo selected as a contender, I grew discouraged. There are just so many submitters and so many talented people. I have pretty much given up on the PW photo contests, and I'm ok with that.

But this was something new - a photo editing contest. So I couldn't walk away from that. The only problem is that I was really busy that day. So I used Lightroom (rather than Photoshop) and I did a super fast, 2-second edit and posted it on the Flickr account. I promptly forgot about it.

A few days later, I was sitting at home with Rob. It had been a busy daction-packed day. It was the day I got the job offer. I'd worked a full day earlier, and then we'd spent nearly 5 hours hauling fence supplies. I sleepily decided to check my email and Google reader (where I read blog updates). Imagine the surprise when I saw this:

Click it for a bigger view.

The Pioneer Woman picked my edit in her second round of selections! Of course now I'm kicking myself that I didn't spend more time on it. Oh well.

Here's a better view of my quick edit:

Even so, it totally made my day. And some other readers were kind enough to write some very sweet comments. A few said my edit was their favorite. Made my week. :)

Next up the "odds and ends" category: I recently finished a freelance website I'd be working on the past couple weeks. Please check out Somer Studios, a custom invitation company. This company is owned and operated by a former coworker of mine, Cristy W. (not to be confused with me -- I am Kristi W.).

I built the site using the standard CSS styling, but I also added some cool Jquery photo galleries. You can view them on any of the collection pages or the pocket options page. I used Javascript to do the drop down menus. Hosting is through Blue Host. Cristy picked the font for her banner.

Although the other Cristy took the product photos for the site, I took all of the photos for the front page.

Cristy had sent me some of her invitations as samples, and I was so impressed with how well made they are. If anyone needs some custom invitations, I highly recommend Somer Studios. Not affiliated (other than she's a former coworker of mine), not being paid to say it. They are just nice invitations. I added a little button over on the sidebar for convenience.

I don't have a full fence reveal, though you've seen most of it already. At least I have some status to report. We finished 3 of the 4 gates and have been waiting to complete the 4th (bad weather in these parts - see Rob's post yesterday).

That's all for now. More odds and ends coming. I have much to share but not enough time to blog it! Stay tuned for more odds and ends.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Minnesota Hurricane!

Apparently it is Hurricane season in Minnesota! There are supposed to be 25+ foot waves on Lake Superior by Wednesday. Weird weather, good test to see how the fence holds up though.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Building a fence: Day 4, Good fences make good neighbors

Some magic happened on Day No. 4 of the fence building project. When I went to work, the fence looked like this:

When I returned home from work, it looked like this:

The most amazing part? Rob did this all by himself!

He wasn't able to get any help since it was a week day and everyone was at work. So he just started plugging away on his own. My husband is such a stud. Seriously.

But around the time I got home, some additional help showed up too.

This is John. He's another former student of mine. Interesting tidbit: John's older brother used to be in a ska/pop-punk band with Rob. Small world!

This is Alex. He's dating my sister-in-law:

And Andrew came back too, after he got off work:

They helped Rob mount the double gates for our fence.

There's still a lot to do, but I'm so impressed with the progress Rob made on Day No. 4. When this project is all over, I'm definitely going to need to take him out on a date or something. I would buy him a gift, but he really only likes tools and he pretty much has everything. Any ideas?

Anyway here's what's left to do:

  • Add pickets to the gates
  • Make the two gates for the front side of the house
And I think that's it! I hope to have a full fence reveal for you soon.

Finally, you have probably heard that old expression, "Good fences make good neighbors." It seems to be true for us. We have nice neighbors, but we haven't really gotten to know them very well in the nearly two years we've been here. Since starting the fence project, the following has happened:
  • The man who lives across the alley came over and offered his saw horses to use while we were building the gates. We'd never talked to him before.
  • One next door neighbor brought us a 6-pack of beer.
  • A woman who lives on the other side of us stopped over for the first time and said hi.
  • Two more neighbors came over to tell us the fence looked great, and we did a good job. I chatted with them and found out they are from Duluth. I love Duluth.
  • A younger guy down the street stopped over to introduce himself and say hi.
Kinda crazy, huh? It's almost a shame that we now have this awesome privacy fence and so our new neighbor friends will never be able to see when we're outside. Then again, perhaps Rob's theory is right. He said, "Maybe everyone is just so happy that we're fencing off our ugly dirt back yard and hiding our loud mouth dog." You know, he has a point.

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