Saturday, October 30, 2010

Creepy Pumpkin

Pumpkin Carving 101

1. Don't carve your pumpkin too soon or leave it outside in warm weather too long...

It kind of looks creepy though... fitting for Halloween I suppose.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brassy to Classy

Chandelier Makeover
(October Project) 

This month's project was definitely a lot easier and faster than September's. It took me approximately 3 hours from start to finish and I had never removed or replaced a light fixture before. So if you know how to handle light fixtures you can probably finish a lot faster. Here's a quick step-by-step...

First, I had to choose a color. I went with Rust-o-leum  "oil rubbed bronze". While this particular brand was a couple dollars more, it was the color I was looking for and boasted "quick drying" and no priming necessary. I figured it was worth the couple extra bucks especially considering what it would cost to replace a light fixture.

I jumped into removing the fixture without any knowledge as to what I was doing. It probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had, but I didn't get electrocuted so I guess it was a success.  I also removed the fake candles so I didn't have to worry about getting paint on them.


I had to clean up the fixture once I removed it. I just grabbed some windex and paper towels. Before I could start painting I was sure to tape off the sockets. They don't work if they're covered in paint.

Then I went outside and rigged up the chandelier using some webbing for rock climbing. Hurley thought it was pretty interesting.

Here you can see the difference the paint made.

A little up close shot...

After letting it dry a few minutes I took it inside to rehang. This is where I ran into a couple of little issues. First, I forgot to spray paint everything at the top of the fixture. I'll show you what I'm talking about in a second. Also, I hooked up the wires wrong and had to go back and rewire. It was a little time consuming.

Do you see the little brass stripe? I think I am going to get a Q-tip and fix it.

Overall, I am really happy with the result.

Much better than this...

It feels good to finish this month's project with some time to spare.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This morning my friend Aubrie came over to help me carve up some pumpkins that Patrick bought the other day. So while Patrick trimmed the bushes in the front yard, Aubrie and I sat on the back porch working on these three guys.

We are pretty pleased. The "B" did give us a little bit of trouble, but we don't think many people will notice. And here is what my sweet husband worked on.

The overgrown bushes are no more! and neither is my fall wreath... I forgot to mention that Hurley indeed didn't appreciate it. As you can imagine, I came home to find my beautiful wreath in pieces around the front yard. It was pretty while it lasted though. After all this hard work it was time to make pumpkin muffins and get ready for the Auburn game! Gotta love Saturdays in the fall!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Sneak Peek

October Project

After taking on the banister last month, I'm in need of a slightly easier (and cleaner) project. So this is what I've come up with so far.

lamp shades from Bed Bath and Beyond
And I'm sure everyone remembers these brass babies... Maybe you even still have one hanging in your house.

This all started a couple months ago when Patrick mentioned the need to update fixtures in our house. A few days later I found myself looking online at light fixtures from various stores. I realized that most fixtures I like are the same basic shape as our current one in the dining room. The only thing that is different is the color. So I'll be painting again, but this time it's spray paint.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Banister Renovation

September project = Major success!

Finally, it's done. I feel like an artist who envisioned a masterpiece and made it happen. Let me show you the before and after pics along with the step by step instructions so you can get a feel for the whole process. 

This is our banister before any sanding, staining, or painting took place. It was boring brown and it made the foyer feel dark and dingy.

This was the view from the top of the stairs.

This was the view from the basement.

Step 1: Sanding, sanding, and more sanding

Big tip: Get yourself an electric sander that works well. Sand until the natural wood grain comes through like this picture below. Start with a lower grit like 180 and finish it off with 320 to make it really smooth. I did the 320 grit by hand really fast over the rough spots. The whole sanding process took hours, my hands were numb, and my boogers turned black. I wore earplugs, but didn't bother with a mask. Plan on lots of dust. If someone in your family has bad allergies, you might want to forget doing this project.

Notice the blue painters tape. You will want to tape off any areas you don't want stained. Also, don't forget to wipe down the railings to get them free of dust.
Step 2: Staining

Choose your stain depending on the color wood you want. I went with ebony. I like the rich color and I wanted it to match my entertainment center at the top of the stairs.

Apply the coats according the the directions on the can. I've heard of people who wipe on stain with a rag, but I used a paint brush because that is what the can said to do. Then after about 15 minutes (what the can said) I wiped off the excess with a clean rag (Patrick's old T-shirt).

What one coat of stain looked like.

Just an up close shot of the action.

I ended up applying two coats of stain before moving on to the next step. That is the beauty of stain, you can apply as much or as little as you want. It is pretty much idiot proof.

Step 3: Polyurethane

The beautiful work needed to be protected. Plus, it adds the shine that you're used to seeing on a banister. You can't really tell from the picture above because the stain was still wet and I think that was only one coat, but before the poly, the wood looked pretty dull.

This is the only place where I experimented and didn't follow the directions on the can. The can said to use a paintbrush, which I did at first. However, I got major bubbles in the first coat even though I tried really hard to apply it very thin. Plus, the can said to sand in between the first and second coat. I grabbed my 320 grit sandpaper and lightly sanded off the bubbles. Well, bad news, the stain came off too. The "light" sanding put major scratches in the railing. This meant I had to break out the stain again and fix the scratches. I was frustrated.

Plan B was to apply the poly using another old undershirt (thanks honey). It worked! It went on really thin, which meant I applied 4 coats, but at least I didn't have to worry about bubbles. I finally had the smooth surface I was looking for.

I had to put signs up so that the d-group guys and gals wouldn't put their hands on it.

Step 4: Priming

I got basic white oil based primer. I am a fan of oil based paints and primers for high traffic areas. We made the mistake of using latex on the trim in the rest of the house and it has chipped a lot. Many of our door frames, windowsills, and baseboards have chips. So it may be harder to clean up after, but I want it to last for the long haul. Also, you just can't skip this step and go to painting. Trust me, it doesn't work.

First coat of primer. I was beaming at this point because I could see that it was going to look how I wanted.

And it matches that entertainment center pretty well.

Finished with priming and so so so happy. This was it! Last step.

Step 5: Painting

I used white oil based paint. I used a foam paint roller for the larger areas like the wood panel across the base of the spindles and had a good quality 1 inch brush for everything else.

Now this is the view when I walk in from the garage.

Would I do this again? YES! It was worth every tedious minute. And in case you're wondering, I do plan on painting the baseboards across from the banister... I just had to draw the line somewhere for the time being. It will be a project for a different month.

Supply list:
- electric sander
- sandpaper (180 and 320 grit)
- mask and eye protection (I didn't use)
- latex gloves (for the staining process)
- stain (I used minwax ebony)
- a handful of paint stirrers
- painters tape
- clean cloth (like an old white T-shirt)
- 1 inch painters brush
- foam roller
- polyurethane
- oil based primer
- oil based paint
- paint thinner
- a lot of patience!

And there you have it! How to transform a banister in a little over a month.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery

I like to look at what other people have done and copy it or do something similar. This is probably why I have an obsession with HGTV. If I am alone on a day off, I can guarantee that it is on the TV as I wander around cleaning and/or painting.

I have always wanted to change the color of our house. I feel like it currently looks like a barn. People have told me several times that they love it because it looks like a house you would find in New England. While I appreciate the comments, I still don't love it. I look at it and think "barn." So I have become that girl. I find myself swinging through random neighborhoods unnecessarily to shop for house colors and if my camera is handy then I snap pictures. That's right, I have photographic evidence.

This is what our house looks like. It's a barn with shrubs that are overtaking the lower windows. I've discussed these bushes with the landscaper (Patrick) who says that it will be fixed.

This is what I've found that I like. It's green of course. I will confess that I have gotten out of the car, but on this particular day there were too many people around working in their yards. I love the contrasting red door and I plan to do exactly that one day.

I'm also thinking of adding window boxes to the second floor windows to add detail to the long flat front of our house. Has anyone ever had these and wish to share their opinion?

Okay, so now I've shared some of my secret obsessions. That random girl snapping photos of your house is me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Sneak Peek

Well, I was right. It's taken a little longer than expected. So it's time for another sneak peak. Remember this?

It now looks more like this.

It shouldn't be too much longer before I am able to show the completed project. Maybe another week? I will then show and tell you about every step along the way.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another Purchase

Well, if you read my last post then you might have noticed that Hurley and I have been having some issues lately. When I said that he goosed me... well, it might have been an understatement. Even though he was playing with me, it was abusive. For a split second I thought he'd broken my leg and then the side of my head got hit. I remember looking up as he rounded back towards me for a 3rd pass and thinking, "my dog is going to kill me." It wasn't a good moment. Something had to be done. Beating my dog with a pipe is not something I imagined I'd ever do nor do I ever want to repeat it. The pipe was just the only thing I had at the time. Later that night I called Patrick and got permission to make a purchase. I worked the past three days and was thrilled to see that it had arrived Friday afternoon.

I'm hopeful that this will fix a lot of our misunderstandings. It's a remote control shock collar. He's had a wireless fence for a while now that works great. It was way better than having to bury a line in the ground. He only got zapped a few times until he learned to associate the warning beep with being shocked. This collar works pretty much the same way except that it can be used whenever we want. We'll be able to train him not to jump, pull on his leash, and, best of all, chew on that pipe!

My leg this morning several days after the incident. It actually looks a ton better than it did. I was really upset that my dog was capable of such damage (not only to the pipe, but to my leg) and writing a silly poem about it helped me make light of the situation. We haven't put the collar on him yet, but I'll be sure to update on the success or failure. Please pray that it works!