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Framing is all finished and the cement has been poured.  We were home during the pour on one of my LTFT days and Arden was fascinated.  We watched until one of the guys’ pants went waaaaay beyond plumber’s crack.  I have to say in my experience, that plumber’s crack is an entirely earned title.  Along with brickeys and siding guys…  One of life’s lessons learned as the daughter of a home builder.  I should point out that my Dad never suffered from this problem.  High-waisted underwear and a belt were his solutions!

Dave was surprised that I didn’t take Arden to put handprints in the cement, but they guys were working it until it was cured enough to walk on.  I know that my Dad spent enough time trying to keep people from writing in wet cement to have tried it.  Dad would suggest to homeowners that they find a penny with the year on it and put it in a corner of the cement.

The siding should be in next week and the garage door sometime the following week.  We have the same electricians who re-wired our house last year lined up.  They left some tails of wire when they did the re-wire with the planned garage reconstruction in mind.



Day two of framing, and I think I’m in love!  Okay, it’s a tad on the obnoxiously tall side, but we got the wall height variance and the neighbors had the opportunity to contest it at that point.  C’est la vie, or so they say…  Now I think we might need to do some exterior upgrades on the house so the garage doesn’t overshadow it.

I don’t have any fun projects completed to post, so I’ll just do a quick wrap up of what’s been going on.

We broke ground – literally – on our garage reconstruction.  On Thursday, they took out the old slab, dug for the footings, and put in the foundation walls.  We’re using a treated lumber foundation instead of block cement.  It’s pretty interesting to see.  My brother Jeff is taking a class that was discussing treated lumber foundations, so he came out and took some photos.  On Friday, they backfilled and compacted the fill sand.  The framing and concrete guys are working on other jobs right now, so they’re not expected for a week and a half or so.  But, great progress!

Also on Friday, Arden dissapeared into the breakfast nook and was awfully quiet for a minute, so I went to go find her.  We’ve learned that when things get quiet, somethings up!  Arden had taken all her soft toys out of one of the Tub Trugs we use to store her toys in and dragged it into the kitchen and climbed in.  Of course I grabbed the camera instead of helping her out!

Saturday was CMU’s homecoming, so I took Arden.  I got there just at the right time to get a tour of my sorority house and a cup of coffee before the parade started.  Arden’s favorites were the horse drawn carriages and floats with dogs.  That’s my girl!  I took some photos of her at the house – can I brag a bit about the shirt I made for her, and the sweater I knitted when I was pregnant?  That sweater has fit her (okay, it’s a little small now) for about a year – totally worth the time it took to knit!

After we got home from the parade, I got started on the chairs I showed you from the ReStore.  I got the seat off one and sanded it down.  I probably got a bit ambitious with the sander since I’m going to prime and paint them, but oh well.  I’ve also been working a bit each day on a cow costume for a friend’s son.  I’m pretty excited about how it’s turning out.  I had to use a devil costume pattern since I couldn’t find a toddler cow pattern, and I’m appliquéing (is there actually a verb for appliqué?) on the cow spots since the only cow fabric I found was novelty cotton and not thick enough to keep him warm.  So, I’m using fleece and getting creative with my scissors while watching chick flicks – my husband had started watching Step Up, it wasn’t my idea!  Yes, my husband has — um — varied taste in entertainment!  I guess it’s all fair, since I like to craft, sew, quilt, and knit and also am into marathons, adventure races, and Muay Thai kickboxing.

Here’s a peek at a future project – four dining chairs I found at the ReStore.  Arden has a thing for chairs, so she joined the photo shoot:

We have Dave’s Great-grandparents’ table and chairs from their Oregon homestead that are just for show.  We rarely sit on them, and hold our breath when we do.  They’re over 100 years old and have smoke and fire damage from vandals.   These chairs are pretty sturdy, though at least one of them will need a new piece of plywood for the seat.  They’ve had a really sloppy refinish at some point, but I think they’ll look great with some paint and glaze.  I’m pondering a nice grass green.  I like the robin’s egg blue that’s really popular, but it wouldn’t really go with the rest of our decor.  If the chairs turn out nice, I might try painting the table legs to match, and then refinish the top.  I want to have these done in time for Thanksgiving when my parents will be visiting so we can have dinner and not fear falling into a heap during dessert!

Decorating our mantle is a little difficult, since it usually ends up being a catch-all for everything we don’t want dogs, cats, or toddler getting into. But with all the inspiring mantles I’ve been seeing, I thought I could give it a try.

The vase on the left was a wedding present and is filled with peanut butter candies.  The lyre candelholder is a gift from one of my AXO sorority sisters.  Various other wedding gift candles and a halloweenish one I’ve had for a few years.  The flower bucket is filled with branches from our yard with a quick coat of black spray paint.  The pumpkin lantern is a hand-me-down from my Mom.  The light bulb was burned out, so I just popped in a tea light for the photo.  It will probably not get a new light bulb this season.  The book is a collection of Edgar Allen Poe works that we already had.  The print isn’t specifically Halloween-y, but it’s Magritte’s Empire of Light and I’ve always thought the surrealism with the daytime sky and nightime house was a bit creepy.  I am also quite thrilled to replace the abstract expressionism Bleu II by Miro that was there previously – it was a red slash and some black dots against a blue background that I never really liked.  Maybe Dave won’t notice if it doesn’t return to the mantle!   The bowl with the rocks in the middle are our wedding “guest rocks” in a wooden bowl we got in Bora Bora on our honeymoon.  Instead of a guest book, we had everyone sign a rock.  I’d put them somewhere else for this, but I don’t have a good place to move them to, and nothing specific to fill the space in the middle.  So, they can be Halloween guest rocks.  The wall color was already pumpkin – Dave has a fondness for this color and it’s in our sun room, dining room, and over the mantle.

I think I have a few other odds and ends that I will add to this, and I think I’ll do some kind of a garland or drape across the print.  Either way, it’s better than it was and forced me to put away the junk that was just cluttering it up.

Lately I’ve seen several tours of craft rooms, and I have to admit just a teensy bit of jealousy.  But that being said, I’m pretty pleased to finally have a spot that is just mine to do whatever crafting or sewing I want. 

Previously, I would haul out my Mom’s circa 1960 New Home sewing machine and plop it on the kitchen table.  It would stay out until a) I finished the project, b) my husband got so fed up with it that he finally complained about it and I cleaned it off for a day or two, or c) we had guests over who actually wanted to sit at the kitchen table.

Earlier this year, I finally got my dream machine – a Janome Memory Craft 9700.  I wanted one that would be good for quilting, making clothes and crafts, and also did some embroidery.  Check, check, and check!  It made several trips onto and off of the kitchen table as well.

Then, this summer I sold my motorcycle (yes, I had a motorcycle – BTW, my husband did not :p ).  With some of the proceeds from the sale of my beloved but post-baby-neglected Honda Shadow, I bought two Pottery Barn Bradford three-drawer file cabinets.  I know I probably could have found something ramshackle to try to fix up beautifully like all of you, but I had been eyeing these things forever and I had cash burning a hole in my pocket.  I already had an Ikea Vika Hyttan stainless steel table top that I had purchased years ago thinking I could try to span the guest bed and make that my craft room.  That never happened, and now the old guest bedroom is Arden’s room, and the new guest bedroom is the old office.

My craft "room"

So, put it all together in a corner of the dining room, add a $10 desk chair from Staples, and voila!  Instant craft “room”.  I still need to do a lot more organization.  I’d love to have some open shelves with things in pretty baskets, but with two dogs and three cats, that’s just inviting trouble.  I do most of my crafting at night, and you can see from the photo that the lighting is not ideal so that’s why I often have a yellowish cast to my photos.  Do I sense a lamp shade redo in my future?  There’s a bit of obligatory toddler-proofing as the corner of the table top was exactly noggin’ height.  The stainless steel table top comes in handy for my little magnetic ruler – you can just see it through the mesh on the back of the chair.

"The Quilt"

This polyptych art titled The Quilt was a wedding gift from my hubby, and is a local Michigan artist.  I admit, I had to google to find the word polyptych.  I knew what a triptych was, but had no idea what a four-part piece was called – quadptych?  Um, no.  But isn’t it great?

Arden's play refrigerator

I am super-geeked about this project.  Arden loves it already, and I am pretty darn pleased with myself for making it for her!  Super-hubby Dave has been busy with major outdoor projects for several recent weekends (fence installation, garage demolition), so I decided that Labor day weekend would be my DIY weekend.  I was inspired by Brittany on Mommy Words post for a DIY Play Kitchen.  I found the same plans on Lowe’s that Brittany used.  

First, to get a little time without “help” from Arden.  The win-win solution:  A hike with Daddy!  

Gearing up for a hike with Daddy

  1. I had the plywood cut at Lowe’s.  Since I don’t have a table saw, this seemed like the easiest solution.  They didn’t even charge me a cutting fee.  I had to cut the 1x6x8 board for the rails, stiles, toe kick, and cleats using a skill saw.

    All cut and ready to go

  2. Construction of the box.  The plans called for actual cabinetry construction with pocket screws.  I didn’t think this required that level of craftsmanship, so I glued and nailed the box together, and then glued and nailed the rails and stiles, etc. to the box.  Much quicker and in the end, way easier to fudge the inaccurate cuts (Lowe’s, not mine of course!).

    Completed box

  3. I filled in the gaps, nail holes and the rough ends of the plywood with wood filler, then sanded everything down.  Arden had since returned from her hike with Daddy, and was now “helping”.  Good thing she wasn’t around for the sawing and hammering!  Sophie the dog also got into the action by repeatedly stealing one of the sanding blocks and running away with it.

    Arden "helping"

  4. I painted the cabinet light blue to match the garage sale find kitchen play set I already had, and put the 12″ deep wire shelving onto the cleats.

    Arden using her partially complete play fridge

  5. I attached the doors to the cabinet using flush mount self-closing hinges.  Arden “helped” some more.

Now for some of the things I did that I think are really cool:  

  1. I attached a Closetmaid spice rack to the inside of the refrigerator door to act like the door organizers.

    Spice rack as a shelf doors

  2. I made handles out of dowels painted with stainless steel spray paint to match the kitchen play set.

    Dowels for handles

  3. I primed the refrigerator and freezer doors with magnetic paint before painting them the darker blue to match the kitchen play set.  Now she can attach magnets to her completed refrigerator!  I love it!

    Magnetic primer

So, here’s the completed project with the kitchen play set I was matching it to.  The scale is a little bit off, but I like the size of the play fridge for Arden.  

Complete play kitchen

Good luck!  This was a pretty ambitious project for me, but I think it was totally worth it and turned out really well.  Please feel free to comment with any questions.

One of the main features of Arden’s nursery is a peg rail going around the room.  The idea was a bit of a collaboration between my mother and myself.  I knew I wanted some kind of a detail going around the room, but I didn’t like the idea of a chair rail.  Mom suggested using knobs, an idea which I really liked.  Once we had a general idea in place, I began getting the nursery put together.  

I didn’t want a super girlie-girl room, since the ultrasound tech didn’t seem 100% sure that Arden really was a girl (she was).  So, I went with two shades of green – lighter on top and darker on bottom for most of the room, and used the lighter green for the funky angles and little nook where the bench and two closets are.  Pardon the picture of my gigantic belly, but it’s the only picture I have showing the painted room before the peg rail. 

Painted walls and week 25 bump photo

Then I had to source the knobs.  I wanted to find vintage/antique glass and metal knobs, but a couple of trips to the local antiques center yielded nothing.  I found a few knobs at Home Depot, but I still wasn’t finding the right mix of knobs.  I found an online store called (I know, a bit obvious, but they had what I was looking for), and rounded out my selection of knobs. 

I got 7/16″ x 2 5/8″ pine molding to make the rails out of and painted them white.  Since these were cabinet knobs and meant to mount on something of which you could access the back, I had to attach the knobs to the rail before installing it.  As the lumber was thinner than a standard cabinet, I also had to get shorter screws of the same diameter so the knobs would lie flush to the lumber.  I measured and cut the boards to the lengths for the wall sections, and planned out where the knobs would go.  I think I used 11″ spacing, with the knobs centered on the wall sections for shorter sections. 

I drilled the holes for the screws at the marked intervals.  I needed the screw head to be below the surface of the board so it would mount flat on the wall, so I drilled a shallow hole on the back of the board larger than the screw head.  I put tape around the drill bit to ensure I didn’t drill too deep.  

Drilling the shallow hole on the back of the board. Sophie is "helping".

Then I attached the knobs using the shorter screw.  They needed to be on good, as I wouldn’t be able to access the screw again once the boards were installed. 

Attaching the knobs

Then I attached the pieces to the wall using finish nails.  I filled the nail holes and asked my brother to caulk along the top and bottom of the boards to get a nice finish. 

Finished product

Awesome sign made by my AXO sister Tina Doepker

I put up the curtains and all the bedding and had carpet installed.  The dresser and desk were my childhood set that I painted black and changed out the hardware several years back.  We got a black crib and everything looks really nice together.  The crib is convertible to a toddler and then full size bed, so it will grow with Arden. 

The peg rail has turned out to be way handier than I ever anticipated.  We have signs, the diaper stacker, wet bags, coats, blankets, and towels hung on the knobs all around the room.  Here’s a photo showing it in action during Arden’s first bath at home: 

First bath at home

It’s funny how big projects seem to stretch out forever, and then all of a sudden, things come together seemingly overnight.  We’ve been working on a garage reconstruction project for about a year.  We started by asking my brother to draw up some plans for us.   We wanted to mirror the roofline of our house to give us some additional storage in the loft area.

Garage Elevation

He did a beautiful job, and then we began the process of getting a variance since our proposed structure exceeded the wall height dimension for our local building codes.  That took some time, since they only reviewed variance applications once a month and the offices are only open during the workday.  Once we submitted all the paperwork around April, Dave and my brother attended the hearing to present it to the zoning board.  Arden and I attended, and we tried our best not to be a distraction. 

Our application was approved, so then we needed to begin lining up our contractor.  My parents and my brother are friends with Chris Ratcliffe of Ratcliffe Builders, so we wanted to get an estimate from him.  The estimate came in at the beginning of August for a bit less than we expected, so we’re going with it.

Demolition.  Dave wanted to hire my brother Jeff and my nephew Nathan to help with the demolition.  Jeff is going back to school this fall, so this set an automatic deadline for us of August 29.  Dave arranged for the dumpster, and set up time with Jeff and Nathan to start demo on August 27, thinking it would take a couple of weekends.

Friday, the 30-yard dumpster arrived in our driveway and Jeff and Nathan arrived in the afternoon to start on “some really easy stuff” while Dave was picking up some supplies.  By the end of  Friday, the doors were off, and all the wood siding.

Demolition begins

Saturday said good-bye to the roof

Roof going

Roof gone

And Sunday saw the end of the garage.  It only took the one weekend, and they completely filled the dumpster.  My nephew learned a good lesson about hard work in the process.  Who knows how long the rest of the project will take, but at least there’s been a big forward leap in progress. 

Final pieces

We made a squirrel family homeless in the process, but at least we can rest easier knowing that the weather is still nice and they have plenty of time to seek alternate accommodations.   I can stop having to clean squirrel poop off my car, and Dave will be able to cruise right into his parking spot instead of having to perform stunt-driver-worthy manuevers to get into the garage while avoiding hitting the house/fence/garage door/garage wall.


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