Shelf Life

After much ado and maybe even more fanfare, I give you: Baby's first wood-based building project. Buckle up, this is gonna be a long one.

Never have I ever gone to a store where they sell wood lumber yard (see?), purchased wood*, and built something. I'm talking screws and measurements and 2x4's and the whole thing. Katie from Bower Power was my total inspiration for finally pulling the trigger on this project, and I followed her instructions you can see here. If a pregnant mom of two little boys can do it, dang it, so can I.

First, the focus:
Remember the 90's? They were all about low, lounge-y family rooms with giant, box-shaped, 300 pound televisions placed inches above the floor for your viewing pleasure. We're lucky enough to have a built-in all set up and ready for one of those dinosaurs... Too bad it's the age of lightweight flat screens. A little context of where this awkward collector of random objects lives:
Our tv rests above this area in a arched nook above the mantle.
I decided to start with the part I was least afraid of: Making the wood the right color.
Conditioner (so stinky!), stain, and satin-finish polyurethane.
Stain coat #1
Stain coat #2
Next, I decided after all that work, I really only wanted one shelf instead of the materials for two I'd prepped. Sigh. Back on track, it was time to make my 'innards' that would be attached to the studs in the wall and the 'pretty parts' attached on top of.
I didn't say my set-up was attractive. Make it work.
Then, after quite a bit of sweat and maybe a few not-so-ladylike verbs... I broke the drill bit.
I broke steel. It was going well. After trying to do it by hand with a good ol' fashioned Phillips head, I knew that it was a two person job. You know you married the right guy when he doesn't rub your whole 'I am woman, hear me roar' bit in your face after you break his power tool. Onward!
After the innards were fully attached to the studs, we placed the pretties on top and screwed them down. Katie used glue in her plans, but we found some of the boards we chose weren't very true, and screwing the top down cranked them up to level.
My staining mistake - Fixed in a jiff with a small brush and extra stain.
Now that the hard work was done, I took over once again to add my extra flare: Tin tile. I found a fabulously affordable and attractive option of faux tin tile made of styrofoam (I'll tell you more about this awesome stuff next week), so an x-acto knife, double-stick tape, and a lot of measuring was all it took.
"Tin" tiled!
A terrible quality of photo, and yet the awesomeness shines through.
I grabbed whatever randomness was at hand to "stock" the new shelf for this photo, so even though you may think you've flashed back to 1996 with the basket of VHS tapes... no. To be styled for real (and for real use) later, I was just too excited to show you to wait for perfection!

And there you have it. A shelf, almost built by me. I may brush on some pewter paint to blend in the outlet covers, but other than that and the styling, this guy is complete. Love it like crazy, and so ready to take a break from building. A long one.

*That was a long way to scroll for this asterisk, I know. But did YOU know that places like Home Depot will cut your wood for you? We don't have a table saw, so brought in our measurements and amounts, chose our wood, and a worker cut every piece for free. For free!! Awesome.


Easy Trees

I love Japanese Maple trees. I grew up with one I always admired, and our front and back yard now are stocked with five(!!) - It was even a selling point of the house for me. But do I know how to care for 'em? Nope. They grow like nobody's business in this climate, so I've taken a if-it-ain't-broke approach thus far.

But lately I've been noticing they're looking pretty scruffy. So I hopped online and watched a few videos (namely, this one and this one) and found that not only are they supposed to be wrangled in winter when dormant (that's now, score!), but it's a pretty duh-inducing program.

Clear out dead wood: Duh. Let light hit all the branches: Duh. Don't let a lot of branches cross over each other: Duh.

And so I began.
And after (and...SUN!!...creating terrible lighting!)
Another B&A - Tough to see, but the after is laden with new branches & buds.
The results were so encouraging I cleaned up a bunch of rogue branches of other trees and rhododendrons too.
Three SEPARATE trees - When we moved in they were a single wall.
Rhodie work - Finally starting to look bushier instead of gangly and tall.
Then to the front yard for the last two maples, one that was even more overgrown than I anticipated:
Check out that dead wood pile. Yikes!
Per usual, I was so engrossed I lost track of time (almost four hours, whoops) and quitting time was enforced by a chock full yard waste bin.
I plan to keep up on the maintenance of my five guys from now on, especially now that I know how simple it really is. And it is nerdily satisfying to see some previous work paying off. Trees that look like trees! Bushes shaped like bushes! No more grass-to-sky wall of green! It's the little things.

Extra bonus: Added some solar lights in the front yard too. At under $20 for six, they add a little extra flare and curb appeal. I'm in love!
We grabbed these at Home Depot for $18.
A little more impactful in real life, but you get the idea.


Lovin' It

Do you know about BlogLovin'? If you have more than one blog you like to read, it's a pretty great tool. Just create an account (all that's required is email or Facebook), and plug in the web addresses of the blogs you love in the search field. Click follow, and presto! Now all you have to do is go to ONE website, BlogLovin.com, and all your blogs and their content are right there in front of you for the clickin'.

Want some easy access? Click the link below:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Happy reading!

Random Round Up: Shades of Light

Happy to say I had one heck of a productive weekend over here, but feelin' muscles I forgot were there is apparently my reward. Yowza! I'll show you what went down later in the week, but for now, a few snaps from the past few days:
We take any sun we can get around here.
Wrist-ready for next weekend - Get your own here!
Hold me closer, banana dancer...?
Nate went golfing and captured this gorgeous scene - Love that low fog.
Mini upgrade: Solar lights for the front yard!
My first wood-based project is complete, and the yard got a serious makeover this weekend as well. More to come on both in the next few days. Have a great week!


Da [chocolate cherry] Bomb

Yep, tryin' new things in the new year. This time: Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bombs. You pretty much can't go wrong with a name like that, right?
I've been intrigued by cake pops since they started gaining popularity a few years back, but I've never screwed up the courage motivation to give 'em a go. These are kind of a hybrid - Perfect for a first timer because if they turn out ugly, they're getting covered by chocolate anyway, and no sticks to deal with either. Win.
Score: Fresh brownies in the bowl, the crunchy crust for me!
Shout out to the amazing Lisa of WineAndGlue for coming up with this gem. They're hitting a work baby shower (are these kids raining from the sky, or what?!) today... Here's hoping they're as tasty as they look!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Brownie Bombs (as seen on WineAndGlue.com)
  • 1 box of brownie mix and the fixin’s it takes to make them
  • 1 can of chocolate frosting
  • 3 to 4 cups of milk chocolate chocolate chips
  • 1 can of cherry pie filling
  1. Bake the brownies as directed and let cool completely.  Do not overcook the brownies, crunchy brownie bits don’t make for good bombs.
  2. Crumble the made brownies and mix in about 3/4 a cup of chocolate frosting.  If you’ve made cake pops before, you want a similar consistency.  You may need to add a little more, but you want to start out on the low side and add more if you need it.
  3. Once you have it the consistency needed (stays together easily but isn’t too sticky to roll into balls), start with about 1 TBSP of brownie frosting mixture.  Form it into a ball, but then make a hole in the middle that you can drop one cherry from the pie filling into.
  4. Top with a little more of the brownie/frosting mixture and do your best to seal the cherry in.
  5. Once you have all your bombs made, pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  6. While they are hardening up in the freezer, melt your chocolate.  You may need a little more or a little less depending on how heavily you coat the bombs.
  7. After the 20 minutes, take them out of the freezer and keep them in the refrigerator.  Working one bomb at a time, drop it into the melted chocolate, pull it back out, and tap off the excess chocolate.
  8. Place it on wax paper and wait for it to dry completely.
*FYI: I used a 'family size' box of brownie mix in a 13x9 pan, followed the directions in the recipe, and got about 20 bombs. Also: Mine are not perfect, shiny little bon-bons like the ones in Lisa's picture, but dang it, they're not bad for a first timer!


Mustachioed Mini Man

It was a Mustache Bash to celebrate the almost-arrival of a little one named Calvin this past weekend, and the hosts went all out. Full of high school friends, it was a baby shower of perfectly fun and modern taste, and I just had to share a few of the details.
You saw the above photo in my Random Round Up from Monday, but what I didn't get to show you were all the other fun touches of Calvin's nursery colors: Gray and orange. As always, click on any image to see it a bit larger.
The queen's throne - Color coordinated, of course.
Such a pretty, rustic venue.
Every detail accounted for.
The gorgeous mama-to-be and her hosts.
I won! Check out the game below:
Famous 'staches for guessing fun. (see the stamped 'staches on the bunting?)
Dessert? You mustache?! Why themed cupcakes of course.
This little guy is a long time coming, and so loved already. Everyone can hardly contain themselves!

...And don't you think the hosts should box up this party and sell it on Etsy?! Amazing.


Random Round Up: Celebrate Good Times!

So much to celebrate this weekend, from new babies to team victories. Ridin' high to kick off the week!
A gorgeous baby shower for a best friend - Every detail attended to!
Tiny lil' Hawks-themed treat.
We couldn't even watch sometimes - Stressful game!
Tuck didn't know what all the commotion was about.
Super Bowl bound!!
Have a great one, everybody!


Onesie, Twosie, Redsie, Bluesie

I'm that person who doesn't really love to shop from a registry. Yes, I know you chose the exact items you really want and combined them in a neat, easy to find list for me. Yes, I appreciate the ease of you already having your address online so I can click one button and be done. Yes, I made several of those same lists for my own wedding. But you know what? Not personal enough.

So here's my usual: One or two items from the registry, one item of my own doing.
This time around, I have a baby shower to attend. Purchased from the registry: Some seriously adorable hooded bath towels and the requested brands of lotions and potions. My touch: Some hand-painted onesies. Who doesn't need more onesies?
I'm no fine artist, so I embraced the "hand-made" emphasis and went for cute rather than perfect. The kitchen table was covered with a towel, some Martha Stewart all-surface craft paint (leftover from this project) and a small craft brush dug out, and each onesie stuffed with a folded paper towel to grab any paint leakage, and away I went.
The whole shebang took me about an hour and a half, mostly because I would pause with my brush in midair to catch some NFL playoff action (go 'Hawks!). Depending on design, you could knock this out in even less time.
I let the little guys dry for a full 24 hours before washing on gentle cycle and drying as normal. Now the paint is set, the onesies are clean, and all that's left is getting that little man out of his mama and into his new fashions!
Just can't wait to meet him.


Random Round Up: All The Small Things

...Remember that song? Anyway.

Hopefully I'm getting the hang of this new job thing, and the posting will be on the regular once more. Fingers crossed for me? Hey thanks! That said:
Hemming dress pants for the new gig. Not my fave.
Did you know slugs could be cute? SO TINY (and now so outside).
Painting onesies for a dear friend's new tiny human debuting next month.
My first wood-based project: Practicing staining on scrap wood.
Oldie but goodie I forgot to post - Pretty early morning Seattle skyline.
And yes, we'll talk onesie painting and my project-o-wood in the near future - The latter may be a little further out due to supplies arriving from Amazon, but it's underway (ooo, teaser).
Happy week ahead!