Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Some Husbands Give Flowers....

Mine gives me the gift of room makeovers.

I've basically redefined the definition of stretched too thin for the last month and one thing adding to the stress is the list of projects we are quickly trying to finish at the house. Since I usually am the painter, when I'm busy, rooms tend to stall and then very slowly finish up. The living room was a good example. We had finished the dining room just under a year ago and since then we knew what we wanted to do in the living room but didn't know when we would have the time to get it done. 

So you can imagine my major surprise when I walked in the door after my trip (I was in Iowa City if you couldn't tell from my awesome pic on Facebook)  this past week and saw this:

To bring you back, this is what things looked like at Christmas (and basically what it looked like when I left last Thursday minus some decorations)

And this is the last picture I took of the whole room.

In just three and a half days, Nate and our awesome friend Desiree completely transformed the room. This literally would have taken me months to do by myself.

This included:

- Priming and painting all the trim
- Installing board and batten
- Hiding all the TV cords in the wall
- Installing all the ceiling trim
- Painting the walls
- Reinstalling TV bracket, basket hooks and curtain rods

I can't get over how different the room looks and how much I love it. Nate didn't give on at all that he was working on this when we talked so it was a complete surprise, which is really hard to do with me. We still have a few small things that we want to do in this room (bookshelf between the two windows?) but all the big, time consuming things are now done!

Included in that list is something we have wanted to do since we moved in....

I'll give you all the info on our new gas fireplace in another post (including why it took so long to put in) but right now we are thoroughly enjoying this new addition.

So this is what happens when I leave Nate home alone. Can you believe how much the fireplace pops now??

Do you love it as much as I do?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

DIY Photo Magnets

For Christmas presents this year we decided to get a little crafty and try our hand at some homemade photo magnets.

I started by picking out a bunch of photos from the past year for various family members as well as a picture of Will and one of our family Christmas photos. I used PicMonkey to make a 8 x 10 collage of square photos and then just printed that at Walgreens. Then I picked up the following at Micheals:

- Flexible Magnet Sheet with adhesive (I got a roll)
- Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
- X-acto knife
- Cutting Mat

Then there was a lot of cutting... both the photos and the magnetic sheet. I cut the magnet to the approximate size of the pictures, attached the picture and then trimmed the edges. As I type this I'm now realizing it probably would have been faster/easier to cut the magnet the size of the 8 x 10 and then just cut the pictures out from there... live and learn. You can see that the magnets are pretty thin so to give them a little more oomph and to protect the photo I used the dimensional magic to cover the top of each magnet.

This turned out to be a little tricker than I originally thought so I thought I'd share how I got a pretty good layer on top without it spilling over the edge. Surface tension is the force keeping the mod podge on top of the picture so you can't break that. If you start with too much mod podge near the edge of the photo then as you add more to the center the surface tension is overcome and it just flows off. 

Instead, I put a ring of mod podge about a 1/4" in all away around the picture and then used the tip to pull it out toward the edge, being careful not to go over the edge. Then I could fill in the center without too much concern. Usually there were a few bubbles so I would pop them with a tooth pic. 

The last key is that you need to keep the picture completely level and DO NOT TOUCH for at least 12 hrs preferably 24. Some people advise to put a cup over the top (upside down) to keep dust off but I found it took a ridiculous amount of time to dry that way and I didn't really have a problem with dust. The mod podge became crystal clear once it dried. 

The magnets are still very flexible and still on the thin side once they are done and light enough were the stick to the fridge really well. We kept a few for ourselves and gave the rest away as gifts. I love having a few of our favorite photos hanging out on our command center.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

New Years Eve

I hope you all have had a good start to the year. I've been on a bit of a blogging break. Nate and I took a mini vacation and that brought us right up to the first week of the new semester. I don't know what it is about the first week, but we usually can just barely get through it. This week in particular not only had the start of classes but my first residency interview, a site visit to accredit my medical physics graduate program and Nate flying to Texas for the annual math meeting. That would have definitely been enough but then our Fit's alternator died. Anyway, it's been an interesting week. 

On a more relaxing note, Nate and I had been planning a mini get-away for awhile to celebrate our 10 years together, 5 years married and Nate's 30th birthday. We didn't go far, but it was just the two of use for a few days. We kicked the trip off with tickets to Billy Joel on New Years Eve. The info for this concert was kept really quiet so nobody knew who was opening for Billy Joel or if anyone was opening, how long the concert would go, or anything except that it was New Years and it was Billy Joel. The entire place was packed all the way up to the nose-bleed section. 

It was the best concert we've ever gone to. 

Rufus Wainwright opened, which was amazing, and Brian Johnson from AC DC surprised everyone and sang one song with Billy Joel on the guitar in the middle of the show. Rufus Wainwright also sang New York State of Mind as a duet with Billy Joel. Other than that, Billy Joel sang straight for 2 and a half hours. It's amazing that after so many years he's still so good, so popular and even more talented on the piano than ever. He even ended the night with Piano man.

We had such a great time. You can check out a few of the videos we got below.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Years Eve & Resolutions

Another year is done and while it has been a great year, this year coming up is already proving to be quite a doozy. So, my only resolution this year is to finish what I've started. This has mostly to do with the house but it also applies to Grad school, residency interviews and my 20's. I'm nervous and excited about all these things.... mostly nervous.

We are making progress on the house side of things and the sunroom should soon be on the finished list. Right now not so pretty but still making progress!

We hope that you have a fun and safe New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Internal DIY Dialogue: Alphabet book

 8 pm Dec 23: Despite starting this Christmas present Christmas Eve Eve, I'm doing great! I have all the chipboard cut, photo's printed, cut and sealed, now all I have to do is assemble it. No Problem!

8:15 pm: Why is this tape being so uncooperative!

8:16 pm: Despite cutting my finger twice, this exacto knife WILL NOT CUT the tape! Bring out big exacto knife

8:20-9:15: Try to figure out why Will is up Screaming and try to get him back down.

9:30 pm: Have Nate take over with Will. Assemble the rest of the chipboard into a book.

10 pm: Time to attach the pictures! (while keeping everything out of view of Will who is now up and running around)

10:01 pm: Is that too much? It looks like too much....

10:05 pm: S***. I cut the stupid chipboard slightly the wrong size. Maybe the adhesive showing will just dry.

11 pm: It doesn't look amazing but not too bad.

11:05 pm: A little better. I'll just let it dry

12 pm: Finally get Will down

9 am Dec 24: Check book... Almost ALL pages are stuck together....

9:05 am: Kicking myself as I unpeel all pages, remove peeled off sealant from photos and respray them. HOPE they don't stick again.

Guess what? They stuck... less this time but the last few pages are definitely not in the best shape. Not that Will cares but I will be trying this project again with more than 24 hrs to complete it.

Did you try any DIY Christmas presents this year? How'd yours turn out?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Happenings

Christmas with a close to two is definitely different than with a close to one. Last year Will was completely oblivious to the holiday happenings and was completely overwhelmed by the gift opening process. This year, Will is super aware of all the decorations and lights, although the concept is definitely not grasped. His excitement over the lights or the blow up figures (if you haven't seen the video of him freaking out you should check it out on our Facebook page) gets us a lot more excited as well. 

Our decorations this year once again include our tree up on a table behind a baby gate so little hands and little paws don't destroy it (although I did manage to shatter one of our glass ornaments). It's not fancy or really blog post worthy with our paint samples on the wall and our garland not fully lit, but I really like how cozy our living room feels right now. We also have a pretty big project going on to make it even more cozy really soon so this is probably the one and only shot of our living room decorations this year.

Instead of our decorations, I thought I'd share with you the amazing decorations at the zoo near us. We recently got a pass and have been spending a lot of time visiting the animals. Every year they do a special Christmas zoo experience for a few nights close to Christmas and this past Friday we headed over to spend the evening in a "winter" wonderland.

We started out in the Frozen Forest. The outside was decked out head to toe with blue lights and white christmas trees.

Inside it was all white. The figurines, the trees, the ornaments, everything. It was spectacular. 

Next up: Reindeer. I thought we might be able to get a bit closer than we were able to but it was still cool to see them and Will liked watching them for awhile.

While the lights and the attractions were a big hit, the carousel holds a special place in Will's heart. We normally go on it at least once on a regular visit, but we hit it up three times. The lights and music and darkness made it feel extra special. 

Will will pick out which animal he wants to ride and he always seems to pick a different one. This night he wanted to ride the gorilla, the panda and the zebra. He also recently started nodding "yes" and every time we came around to where Nate was standing on the outside I would ask him if he saw daddy and he would give this huge nod. It was hilarious.

Mid nod

Another favorite was the train. It doesn't go far but I'm sure to a toddler it's awesome.

 We spent the rest of the time walking around visiting the animals and oohing and ahhing at the light displays.

Will even got to see "snow"!

Despite an epic afternoon nap, someone got pretty tuckered after a couple of hours but we had to make one last stop to pay a visit to Santa.

Will has actually seen Santa three times this year. First one did not go well. Second time Santa found him on a golf cart at the mall and Will cautiously took a coin from him (I realize this sounds uber creepy as I'm writing this but it was a mall promotion to get people to come see Santa and pay for pictures so it wasn't that weird). 

These previous experiences seemed to make this visit with Santa less scary. Despite being tired, there were no freak outs or tears and Santa even got a high five! 

This was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit and hopefully our plan to spread out gift opening  this year will keep things exciting but not overwhelming!

What do you do to get into the holiday spirit? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Gate Debate

Who knew the color of a playroom gate would spark so much debate! We asked you a month ago what we should do with our playroom gate and BOY did you all give us some great ideas. To remind you, we had a structurally finished gate into the playroom (more on how we built the gates later) but we didn't really know how we wanted to finish it.

The main concerns with white paint was the dirty toddler fingers constantly touching the gate. I liked the idea of stain since we could keep a little bit of the wood grain showing and minimize fingerprints but after an overwhelming vote for a pop of color, I decided to give it a try.

I picked up a test jar of reddish orange paint (Valspar Woodlawn Salsa) and to try and keep the wood grain showing, I mixed a small amount of paint with some water.

I used a foam brush to wipe on the painty water (this is fairly messy if you try it).

Once I covered the whole gate, I used some paper towels to wipe down the gate removing any extra liquid. The result kind of a broken in look to it. 

I think I like it. I'm letting myself sit on it for a bit before I give it the true thumbs up or down. I like that the grain shows through and if when it gets all banged up from toys being pushed through, I won't care since it already looks a little beat up. I'm still not 100% sold on the color though.

What do you think?