Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Two Hour Update

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a stencil from Royal Design Studio not knowing for sure exactly where I wanted to use it, but just that at some point I would do a stencil project.  This is the stencil I picked out:

Endless Moorish Circles Moroccan Stencil

Moroccan Stencils Endless Moorish Circles
Picture from-
I wanted a good beginner stencil- nothing too fancy. 
I then proceeded to procrastinate the project because I have been slightly intimidated with stenciling due to the fact that all of our walls have A LOT of texture on them.  In any tutorial you watch to learn to stencil step one is to sand down the wall to a flat surface.  This was not a step that I was willing to do because for one, I just re-painted all of our walls a year ago and two, I didn't want one flat wall in a sea of textured walls.  See my dilemma? 

This intimidation lasted until Tuesday evening when I just decided to bite the bullet.  What did I have to loose anyhow?  If the first try didn't work out, then I could just paint back over that one little section.  No harm done.

So, on the way home from work, I swung by Hobby Lobby to get this life saver and start the project.

This is an adhesive spray that you can use to tack down stencils.  It holds its "sticky" for awhile so you can use a stencil sprayed once with it multiple times.  I think that this stuff saved the whole project for me.  Word of warning though- spray this over a surface that you do not mind being sticky forever more.  I laid my stencil on an old sheet to spray and had to throw out the sheet at the end of the project because it was just that sticky.

Next, I started paint selection and stencil placement.  I wanted the paint color to be in the same color family as the existing wall color but offer a nice distinct contrast.  I also knew (from the board and batten project) that our floors and ceilings are not exactly level.  To deal with this, I simply leveled the stencil with a nice long level to make sure that the pattern was straight.  I really lucked out in that the stencil was the perfect size to cover my wall when turned horizontally.

It is at this point that I started praying for the best and began stenciling.  I used a dry brush method and just tap, tap, taped until the first block was done.  Then it was the moment of truth.  Did the texture ruin everything (and did I just waste 45 minutes of my life for nothing?)?

Drum roll please...     Ta-da!

It worked just fine!  Let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief...  So, I got to work repeating the same process that I described before (level the stencil, stick to wall, tap,tap,tap).

And, before I knew it, I was near done!

The bottom piece was slightly more difficult because I had a baseboard to contend with, but knowing that I likely would not use this same stencil in our house again (and that the stencils are relatively inexpensive), I cut the stencil to the perfect size.  I also taped off the baseboard so that I could get my paint right up to the edge.

For the top portion, I again did a little more stencil cutting and was done with the entire project in no time!

Is it perfect? No.  But it passes my OCD approval test!  Plus, who looks at your walls that incredibly closely? Please say that none of my friends or family look at my walls that closely (Mom- I am talking to you).

I love it! Eric loves it!  Chloe and Lola love it.  The chickens...  Okay, I'll stop now as you probably get the point.
 It kind of wants me to stencil everything, but then I remember that I spent two hours just tap, tap, taping and I change my mind.  Who knows, maybe in a couple of months I will be ready for another stencil project.

Now I just need to work on that plant.  It is looking a bit rough...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Snowy Weekend

We are having a very snowy spring here in Colorado.  It is confusing because our tulips are coming up, but we get pounded with snow every weekend.  Luckily, our power did stay on through the storm this time.  It also makes us extra productive with house projects since we are stuck indoors. 

The only time we went out  on Saturday was to measure our snow levels and to run around with Chloe a couple of times. Ten inches!

Chloe likes to wear sweatshirts on snowy days.

For the most part, we worked on our secret basement project soon to be revealed.

Any guesses what we are up to?

We also spent a bunch of time like this.  The baby chicks are now very good fliers so we had to cover their brooder with chicken wire.  They have also become big fans of eating out of our hands although their pecking is already starting to hurt a bit.

Sorry, I am obsessed with taking pictures of the chickens especially our little black and white chick "Babe" because she is so friendly and has foot feathers- LOVE.

I also had my first true sewing fail. 

I was trying to lengthen our curtains, but ended up getting completely frustrated and loosing patience.  After two hours of work with very little progress (too much measuring), I gave up and just ordered new longer curtains online.  I may need some more sewing classes...

This weekend we are heading down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to spend the Easter holiday with my parents and brother's family.  I cannot wait!  Chloe and Lola are making the trip with us (per usual) and the chickens are being expertly cared for by Eric's brother and his wife, Nathan and Stephanie.  I am so excited to get my hands on my niece and nephew and get out of the snow and into the sun! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

For the Birds

Watch out folks, we're getting tech geeky this morning...

Eric here to tell you how our chicks have gone high tech!  If you not into the tech stuff, just skip to the bottom for cute chick pics. 

Anyway, back to my Engineering domain.  On March 5th, I  installed a wireless temperature sensor from Colorado Sensors.  My good friend David Lee loaned it to us to try out.  According to our chosen chicken literature, chicks need to start out at a relatively balmy 95 degrees F.  From then on out, the temperature needs to be reduced by 5 degrees per week until they are fit to go to their outdoor home.  The cool thing about this sensor is that it can be checked over the Internet.  In fact, the sensor website allows sharing so that anyone can check the temperature if they so desire:  Chicken Temperature Link.  Checking their temperature is surprisingly addictive, and we do it several times a day.  The chart below shows our chicks temperature for the last 20 days.  Notice the two spikes at the beginning where the temperature when up near 100 degrees.  Well, we discovered that the chick room gets pretty warm in the morning if the heat vent is left open.  The chicks did not seems to mind too much, although Buttercup seems to be the least heat tolerant, as she pants when the temperature gets too high.

More interesting, are the two dips in the temperature.  These were from two power outages.  The sensor is wireless so it kept on recording right on through the outage.  Most of the heat for the chickens comes in the form of infrared radiation from a 250 Watt heat lamp.  So when the power was lost, the chickens went from 92 to 68 Fahrenheit in less than thirty minutes.  Fortunately I was home at the time.  I ended up boxing up the chicks, putting them in the truck and driving them over to my brother's house.

Chick temperature for 20 days

Wireless temperature sensor

Wireless gateway

March 5th.  Left to Right Chloe, Penny, Babe, Buttercup and Peep- so tiny.  Chloe might have an unhealthy obsession with the chicks.

Three weeks later.  Left to right (Penny, Peep, Buttercup, and Babe)  They love their roosting bar!
Melissa with Buttercup on March 23rd.  We think that Buttercup might be part hawk.
So,call us crazy if you want, but we are raising our chicks in the best environment possible.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Let's Jump on This Board and Batten Bandwagon

Yes, like every other Pinterest loving, Young House Love reading blogger around, we too have given into the Board and Batten trend.  After having completed the project our thought was, why didn't we do this a long time ago?  Not only does it make a HUGE difference in your house, but it is also pretty easy to install as far as DIY projects go.

Eric and I decided to go the "official" board and batten route; back board to cover the wall (our walls have a lot of texture on them) and new baseboards, in addition to the actual battens and top rail.  We covered a thirteen foot portion of wall for... drum roll please...  $55.00 (paint and primer not included as we had this laying around already)!!!  Here's how it went down.

We started by removing our "old" baseboards and vent.

Then we figured out what we wanted the height of our board and batten to be.  We noticed that people varied between about 38" and 46" and landed on 44" as our perfect number.  So, we began by cutting down our pieces of  wood backing to exactly 44".  This way, we could nail the baseboard, top rail and battens over this and not have to worry about widths of each individual piece.  If they were all sitting on top of the wood backing, they would all stick out the same distance from the wall.

In covering the thirteen foot wall, we needed two sheets of the wood backing (it is sold in 6 foot sheets).  We simply made sure that the seam between the sheets was right on a stud so that we could hide it with batten. 

Next, we adjusted our outlet.  We didn't want the outlet to look recessed in the wall, but rather flush.  So, we cut the necessary hole for the outlet and were then able to just screw it back in over the top of the wood backing (the standard screws that come with the outlet should be long enough to do this).

Pretty simple, right?  I should also mention that we chose to nail our wood backing to the wall rather than glue it.  We didn't want to make it nearly impossible for a future owner to remove the board and batten if they were to decide that it isn't their style.  After it was fully nailed to the wall, I quickly rolled on a coat of primer and we were good to go.

One important note- in doing this project, we noticed that our floors are not perfectly level.  To compensate for this, we installed the wood backing and baseboards flush against the floor and leveled the top rail. We thought the difference would be less noticeable at the floor level than at the 44" level and I think that this was the correct choice.  I do not notice that anything is "off" and I am super OCD about stuff like this.

Next up was installing the baseboard pieces.  We used 6" x 8' pieces of pine for this in an effort to get it to line up with our existing baseboards as closely as possible.  We also notched out the end of the board so that it met up nicely with the curve of our existing baseboards.

The next step was the top rail.  For this, we used a 3"x 8' piece of pine.  Again, we made sure that this rail was perfectly level.  This meant that the rail did not line up exactly with the top of the wall backer board, but this is nothing that a little painters caulk can't fix/hide.

If you have never done this caulking method before, you are doing it the hard way.  By laying down two strips of tape, running a bead of caulk and then smoothing with your finger, you get a PERFECT caulk line.  Just make sure that you remove the tape immediately after caulking and once you remove the tape, do not try to make any finishing touches or you will ruin it. Once you pull the tape, you are done.

Finally, we added the battens, which we measured for height individually and spaced at 16" intervals to meet up with our studs.  Again, we hammered these on because we used 1" x 6' pieces of manufactured wood for the battens and did not trust that glue would hold them.

Up next, I filled seams, finished the edges and filled and sanded nail holes.  This step is always kind of annoying because you are just so close and want to be done, but doing a great job at this is vital.  Many times, I fill and sand multiple times to get it perfect, but it so so worth it in the end.  With everything filled and sanded, it was time for paint.

Before paint:

After two coats of Behr white semi-gloss paint, we had this!  Ooh, aah...  We are so fancy now!

And with our decor back in place (sorry, you the after pictures were taken at night and the lighting wasn't great).

It is definitely much more exciting then when the room just looked like this:

So, yeah, we are loving the transformation!  So much in fact that we plan to wrap the board and batten around into our dining room.  It is just so easy and looks so nice that we might as well go for it.

 Yeah for easy and inexpensive DIY projects!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Moldy Situation, Continued

When last we left off, Eric had dug a huge hole in our side yard to find and repair the cause of our moldy basement. 

I should mention, that we did warn our next door neighbor about our "excavation", making sure she knew that one of our pets had not perished.  She was incredibly relieved because that is exactly where her mind had gone.  Nothing to see here neighbors...

No trees were harmed in the digging of this hole!

We clearned the additional loose concrete, then re-mortered the hole and finished up with re-painting the affected area with tar.  I then back filled the hole- best workout ever.  The same process was done on the inside of this wall as well, minus the tar.

We also installed the new studs, insulation and drywall to complete the room.  Some spray texture, a couple coats of paint and some new carpet were added, and we were finally back in business.

It was only a two month set back, but who's counting (I say sarcastically)?

Finally, we were able to start getting this room together.  Luckily, my grandmother had given us some of her antique furniture and it was a perfect size/ scale for the room.

A little homemade headboard action there as well as a new closet door (the headboard took two hours to make and turned out great= greatest Pinterest project ever!).

We also installed this sconce with a pivoting arm to add some light for guests who like to read in bed.  With no space for a night stand this seemed like our best option and I just love how it turned out.

This glass cabinet of my grandmother's is my FAVORITE piece of furniture!

This is the last little corner of the room. For your reference, this was the "mold corner"

So, it's getting there!  I would still like to find a piece of art for over the bed, get some new curtains hung and find a round area rug, but it is definitely a major improvement (as in we do not have to worry about harming our guests lungs anymore).

I should also mention that as a preventative measure, we added a large air purifier to our basement and did a mold test.  I am happy to say that we can now house multiple guests!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Fun Filled Weekend

Last weekend we celebrated a very important day in our household.  It was Eric's birthday (I promised not to tell his age)!  We started the weekend out with dinner on Friday evening at one of Eric's favorite spots- Agave.  Prickly Pear margaritas were enjoyed and we got to meet up with some of our favorite folks Nathan and Stephanie (Eric's brother and sister-in-law).

We finished the night with some ice cream cake from our favorite dessert spot Sweet Cow. If you are ever in the Boulder, Colorado area, Sweet Cow is not to be missed.

On Saturday, we decided to use some gift cards that we had for the St. Julien Spa and go get massages.  It was glorious.
Check out that spa shower.  I could have spent hours just going back and forth between the steam room, sauna and shower and been a very happy girl.  However, we had places to be.  

Saturday afternoon, our friend Zach was hosting his annual birthday party (it was supposed to be the weekend prior but had to be postponed due to snow).  It worked out well though because we also got to celebrate Eric's birthday.

Gifts were exchanged.  That was some seriously fancy wrapping Tom!

The boys played their weird boy games.

And we even got to see one of our favorite little nieces Quincy!

By the time that we got home, we were beat.  We walked Chloe and called it a day.

Sunday was spent being more productive on the home front.  We went to church and brunch and then dove into a house project (to be revealed soon). Here is a hint:

We also made some corned beef and cabbage for the first time. It tasted great but made the whole house smell like rotten garbage.  Yuck.  I do not think that I will be making that again.

I am already counting down the days until next weekend...