Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sewing Sisters-in-Law!

A couple of weekends ago my sister-in-law Stephanie came up with the brilliant idea that we should take a "Learn to Sew" class together.  The class did not require that we have our own machine (they would supply them if needed) and it took place in an adorable shop called Fabricate

At $40.00 for a three hour class and the promise to walk away knowing the basics of using a sewing machine and making your own fancy pillow cover, I was sold!  I hadn't sewn since middle school home economics, but I was game to try and thank goodness that I did.

We got to pick our our own combination of three cotton fabrics (the hardest part of the class) and from there we were set to work.

We had such a great time and I am happy to report that Stephanie and I were the A+ students of the class.  Just check out this pillow case perfection.

Yes, I am aware that it is only a pillow case, but I love it and felt so accomplished!

So, what did we do with our new sewing knowledge?  Well, first we both went home and spent large sums of money on sewing machines.  Yup, we were sold on sewing!  I ordered this little beauty because it was the same machine that we used in class and it made me feel comfortable.

A couple of YouTube tutorials later and I have successfully threaded a bobbin and have it all ready to go!  The plan is to take one sewing class per month.  I expect that we will be experts in no time.  Haha, not really, but we are learning and having a great time along the way.

Thank you Stephanie!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weekend in Review

We had quite the busy and exciting weekend!  Colorado finally got a "real" snowstorm, we attended a family birthday celebration, got our baby chicks, sawed through kitchen cabinets, I electrocuted myself; you know, just the usual stuff.  Here are some photos to sum it up!

Side note- I do not recommend using a hand saw to cut your nice cabinets.  These cabinets are not long for this world so we had no issue cutting into them.

We celebrated cutting through kitchen cabinets with dinner at Comida in Longmont, CO.  Love this place!

Drove through a snow storm to get our baby chicks. 

Our four little girls in their new home.  Note- they look half dead in this picture but the got home, ran around like crazy, ate, drank and then promptly passed out.  They are doing really great!

Meet Peep, Penny, Babe and Buttercup!

They love their heat lamp.

I am partial to this little tiny striped one.  She is an Easter Egger and she has a lot of spunk!

Our baby chick breeds:
Buff Orpington
Easter Egger/ Araucana
Light Brahma
New Hampshire Red

Monday, February 25, 2013

Who Said Siding Was Simple?

When last I posted, the end of this project was nearly in sight.  I was so excited about getting siding up that I completely forgot about a couple of very important steps.  Don't worry though, by the end of this post siding was up.  The proof is here:

The first step was installing a roosting bar.  How could I possibly forget that..? Luckily, that only took a couple of cuts and some sanding and we were good to go.

We also needed to put up the walls between the nesting bars, which took no time at all:

The next step was to cover the ventilation holes and window hole with chicken wire.  Although the window will be able to close with a door, we wanted to be able to leave the window open on summer days without worrying about unwanted critters crawling into the coup. 

The ventilation holes are necessary to any chicken coop as without them, chickens start to suffer from lung issues.  There is a big difference between ventilation holes and just general openings in the coop that allow for drafts.  We will try to block all drafts with caulk. We do not want our chickens catching a chill in the Colorado winters.

With that, our final step was something that I opted for after some brainstorming.  You see, I am a bit of a neat freak, which means that I want our chicken coup to stay clean.  I began to wonder about about chicken "potty business" seeping into the plywood at the bottom of the coop.  No amount of pine shavings changing would help this issue, so my solution was to spray the interior bottom of the coop with an indoor/outdoor clear coat protective gloss.  This way we had a moisture barrier in the coop and I could breathe a sigh of relief.  These couple of projects only set us back a few hours and soon enough we were ready to start siding.
My idea of siding went something like this- we measure, cut and slap those pieces of siding on up.  Eric's was a bit different...  All sides should be cut from one large piece and all grain/ seams should line up around though coop.  Don't get me wrong, I knew I would appreciate the finished product, I just hadn't planned on six hours of chicken coup siding install.

The brown stuff on top of the nesting boxes is just some left over exterior caulk form a previous project)
Ta Da !

Isn't that the cutest little rounded chicken door ever?
Anyway, with this step done, it was up to me to start painting.  For this, I simply used a quart of Behr exterior paint called Apple Polish and two coats of paint later, we had this!

Love it!

So what do we have left:

- lots of trim work to make this coup look like a rustic barn
-roofing the nesting boxes
-doors (front door, nesting box door, window door)
-hinges, locks, other decorative touches
-side roof trim
- the whole outdoor run portion, which we will likely move outdoors to do

Not too daunting, especially considering that we plan to get our chicks around March 1st and they will live in our basement for approximately twenty weeks.  Oh, and lest you worry that we are not prepared for our baby chicks, here is some proof that we are:

We simply need to add our pine bedding, fill our feeders, turn on our heat lamp and we are good to go.  I am getting so excited!

Chicken Coop Part 1

Chicken Coop Part 2

Chicken Coop Part 3

Friday, February 22, 2013

So Your Sayin' We Need A New Deck?

To say that we were in need of a new deck would be the understatement of the century.

Exhibit A:

Note the strange and sagging overhead pergola thing.
Ding, ding, ding...  New winner for ugliest deck in America goes to us.  Yeah!!!
And the rotted out wood (that snakes like lurking under)   :(

For months we discussed new deck plans and how unsafe the current deck was, but it seemed like such a rough job.  This was until we were very innocently having a BBQ with friends and their sweet as pie little daughter Grace took a tumble on our rotted out steps.  Faster then you can say "we need a new deck" three times, the new deck plans were in motion.

Artistic credit goes to  Eric Baltz
Some plans are more complete than others people...
Just kidding.  You do not think any self respecting Engineer would let those plans fly, do you?  We actually ended up using Home Depot's deck builder tool.  It generated some very thorough plans including parts list and a cost estimate.  We highly recommend using it.

Two weekends later and with the help of a few great friends, our deck was gone (and to my relief, a few snakes reluctantly lost their homes).

Multiply this truck load by three
Next up was cement cutting and hole digging or so we thought until we noticed this... Yikes...

That folks is a clear sign of termites.  Lucky for us, we already anticipated the termite issue.  Who knew we have termites in Colorado? About a year prior to the deck project, I was innocently doing some painting just inside this sliding glass door.  While painting, I found a soft spot and on further investigation, we discovered termites.  Lucky for us, the termite inspector said that there were not traces of termites in other parts of the house and we happily had him drill every foot around our house, inject poison and kill all of those little buggers.
We also knew that when building our new deck, we would not make the same mistake that previous owners had made and  would not connect our deck to our house therefore creating a pathway for termites to get in.  The new deck would float just off our house.
So, about five hours of rebuilding later, we had this (and trust me that it was just as pretty and new looking under that cedar siding as well).

Ahhhh, much better.  Now we were finally ready to start cutting some concrete and digging some holes!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cozy For Him, Frightening For Me

Today's post is a quick flashback to one of the first rooms that we tackled at our house.  While we were still in the process of finishing the guest bathroom, I quickly became bored with the waiting game associated with cutting and precisely installing tile and began a little side project of my own.  I am one of those weird people who actually finds painting relaxing and very gratifying, so I got to work on painting.

This room was high on the agenda for needing help.

 I am sure that you have no need to question why I started here...

This is a guest bedroom on the main level of our house that Eric actually used as his bedroom.  He thought that the master bedroom seemed too large for a single guy to use and was happier here.  My thought upon seeing it was, "blank walls, green carpet, outdated closet doors and curtains- what is happy about this place?". 

But, I held my tongue, talked him into moving into the master bedroom and began work.  I wanted to go with something subtle yet fun and just make the room look very clean and inviting.  I decided upon horizontal stripes that I had seen Young House Love (Young House Love) do in their previous home's bathroom.  Instead of doing stripes on every wall though, I picked one accent wall because the room is small and I did not want to make it look any smaller than it already was.
This is when knowing an engineer came in very handy.  Also handy was owning a laser leveler.

Prior to laying our tape for the beige stripes, I painted the entire room Valspar's Honeymilk and then used Wishes by Glidden to create the stripes (told you I copied Young House Love).  I also removed all of the baseboards because we had decided to slowly transition the entire house from small baseboards to more decorative thick ones.

The taping and painting took about two hours and in all honesty, it was kind of fun!  Before we knew it, we had this:
Definitely an improvement, but boy was that carpet an eyesore.  Luckily about a month after this picture was taken, Lowe's offered a free carpet install event and we jumped at the chance.

Today, the room looks like this:

It is a bit of a difference, wouldn't you say?  The bedding was definitely not my typical cup of tea, but I wanted to add some fun color and I feel like you can take some chances with a guest bedroom.

We also added some new lighting from Lowe's to brighten up the room, as well as some decorative touches.

The final change was new closet doors.  Some would have just painted over the old closet doors, but in all honesty they were so dirty and such a dark colored wood that we decided to just go the easy route and buy new doors.  We also wanted to update the doors and get away from all the horizontal slats in the old door that seemed just to collect dust.

Now we have a new guest room that I think anyone would be happy to stay in!

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Came First, The Chicken or The Coop?

We have kind of been putting all of our eggs in one basket lately (pun intended) and working hard on this chicken coop.  At this rate, we will be done with it in no time!  The only issue will then become, how the heck will we move it from our garage to our back yard (It weights a ton)?  Until that time though, we are concentrating on roofing.

As you can see, after we got the plywood roof layer installed, we laid over some tar paper, which we simply attached with a hammer staple gun.  This step took all of five minutes- yeah for fast steps!

The harder step was preparation for shingle application.  When you put shingles on a house roof, you want the nails to go completely through the roof so that they actually poke out into your attic ceiling.  In the case of the chicken coop though, we did not want this to happen.  Chickens have this unfortunate habit of doing crazy/ stupid things which very often results in their demise.  We did not want our chickens to accidentally impale themselves on our roofing nails.  Trust me, it could happen.
So, the search began for a perfect length nail to properly hold down our shingles, but not create a chicken torture chamber.  After finding a 7/8" nail, we were good to go.

Eric installed the first board by cutting a scrap piece of wood to mimic the trim board that we will eventually put up on each side of the coop.  After that initial piece was in to serve as our guideline, we were good to go.

Here is a slightly better view of the nesting boxes as well.

So, this weekend should be spent doing what I am sure will be my favorite part of this project- siding and painting! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

We're Nesting!

There has been a lot of nesting going on in the Baltz household... Mom, Marietta- don't get too excited. I simply mean that we have been busy building some chicken nesting boxes!  Who knew that these little boxes would be cause for greatest debate in our chicken coop building process.

There are many differing opinions on the size of nesting boxes and we have read them all.  There are also many opinions on the location.  Basically, some people make it sounds like chickens will nest anywhere and others make it seem like a science.  After much review, our nesting boxes had a bit of a remodel.  If you remember from my last post, the chicken coop looked like this:

Chicken Coop Part 1
And here I am rebuilding the nesting boxes.  If at first you do not succeed, try, try again.

Please ignore the headband thingy.  It was freezing and I was desperate.

So, round two included raising the nesting boxes up in height.  This way the chickens have to step up a bit to get into them (which apparently, they like to do).  We have also pitched the roof of the nesting box so that it mirrors the angle of the coop roof line.  With the new plans, each box will be about 12" in length, by 12" wide and the height will be 12" at the back, but will angle up to 18" in front.  Sounds like a cozy little home, right?   Also, rather than lifting the top on the nesting boxes to gather the eggs (which would be complicated due to the roof line), the front panel of the boxes will fold down.  More details on this to come.

We obviously still have some work to do on them, but you can see the general shape.

Another new development is the roof, which we made from an old piece of plywood that the former owners left at our house.  We still have to shingle, but lucky for us, we have shingles laying around from when Eric  re-roofed our house!  You will all be relieved to know that our chickens are getting 60 year shingles.  I know that you all were worried.

So, we are still working away over here.  It is looking like we are going to be done in plenty of time to house our chicks though.  Up next, shingling the roof, siding and painting!!! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Call us crazy, but Valentine's Day is not a big day in our household.  I have had relationships where we would go all out on V-day, but in my experience the healthier your relationship is, the less you need one day of the year to prove your love.  We try to show our love every day with little things like me putting notes in Eric's lunch or him scraping the ice off my car each morning before work.  Trust me, they really add up!

Because of this, we do not have any big exciting plans for Valentine's Day, nor have we ever done anything big (dinner out, jewelry, etc...) on the day.  Having said that though, each year we do prepare a fancy meal at home together, which seaways perfectly into my next topic- our dining room.

Valentine's Day 2011 was Eric and my first Valentine's together and he invited me over to dinner.  This is the sweet scene that I arrived to:

 Isn't that adorable?  Homemade valentines and heart cutouts!  There was also a lot of red glitter on the table, which we inadvertently ended up eating copious amounts of because it got all over our food and us.  Oops.  It was a night that I will never forget because it was also the first time that he told me he loved me.

One part of the evening that I wouldn't mind forgetting about though was this bachelor pad dining room.  Yikes!   I remember that one of the first times that I met Eric's parents, we were talking about doing some painting in his house and his mom said, "Now, do you have any plans for that bright yellow wall in the dining room".  Apparently, I was not the only one who wasn't a fan.  I was also not a fan of the tiny corner table because our legs were squished under there (we're a tall bunch).

Cut to two years later and our almost completed dining space:

We started the upgrade with a fresh coat of paint on both the walls and baseboards.  It is a bit hard to tell, but it is a very neutral tan/caramel color; just warm and clean looking.  Then began the waiting and bargain hunting game.  We knew that we wanted a farm style table, with a leaf, that didn't cost a fortune.  The plan is to expand our family someday and we wanted a table that we didn't have to be panicked about sippy cups being banged onto and kiddo spills happening.  Around Thanksgiving 2012, we found this set at Cost Plus World Market for 25% off.  Wahoo!  We drove on over, packed up the car and spent the rest of the day assembling. 
Because of the neutral walls, I knew that I needed to add a bit of color.  Luckily, Cost Plus has great inexpensive slip covers that brought in just the touch of color we needed.  We purchased some artwork at HomeGoods and some table decor at Z Gallerie and voila! 

The drum chandelier was added over our Christmas break;  I had asked for it as a Christmas gift.  We ordered it online through Lamps Plus ( and although not seeing it in person was a bit of a gamble, we love the result.  Plus, it was super easy to install.
The final touch was a little weekend project that we through together- the wooden valance.  Like the majority of females I know, I too am OBSESSED with Pinterest.  I saw a step by step guide to making a valance and a week later, this little baby was installed (Wood Valance Tutorial).

We also painted the opposing wall an accent color to liven things up a bit.

Chloe is my shadow so is always trying to get into pictures
 So, what is left for this room?  We would like to upgrade the blinds at some point and maybe add some crown molding.  Also, the floor will be sanded and refinished to a slightly darker and less honey colored tone.  For now though, we are pretty thrilled to be spending our first married Valentine's Day in this new space!

Happy Valentine's Day!