Friday, February 22, 2013

The elephant in the room

Have you ever made an unfortunate purchase? Like one that seemed really wonderful and fun when you bought it, and then you brought it home and thought, "What am I going to do with this now?" I joined a site called Joss & Main ( a while ago. The site emails me daily with different sales, primarily on home goods. I usually just casually browse the sales and then delete the email, unless I am looking for something in particular (our living room rug was a Joss & Main purchase). I don't know what mood I was in when I clicked on the orange elephant and thought, "I must have this!" But I will tell you 2 things about the elephant; I thought it was smaller and much less bright orange. I thought it would be a small pop of color to add to our mostly blue and beige 1st floor. When I saw the shipping box, I knew I was in trouble. What could possibly ship in such a large container? I opened the box to reveal the large, bright orange elephant pictured below. My first thoughts were, "Oh no! I must hide this from J."

Along with Horton, I bought a few other more tasteful items, like these paper globes.

And this decorative ball and dancer.

I put the dancer in the guest bedroom, which already has a few dance-related objects. (I should really take down those Christmas lights).

And I put the decorative ball on my desk for now.

 Back to the elephant. I decided to tuck him away next to the dining room hutch. As soon as it gets warmer out, he will be spray painted either white or blue to go with our decor. Hopefully then, he will be more of an object of whimsey, as I had intended. J came home in a bad mood on Wednesday, so I didn't see him too much and I don't think he saw the elephant. But he sure did on Thursday. We were on the couch talking after work.

J: "Can I ask you something?"
Me: "Yea, sure. What's up?"
J: "Why is there a character from Dr. Suess in our dining room?"
Me: "....."
Me: "ummm..."
Me: "Here's the thing. I thought it would be smaller..."
J: "And not orange?"
Me: "Well, I thought there would be some orange, more of a reddish-orange."
J: "So, you actually spent money on that?"
Me: "It was on sale."
J: "Shocking!"
Me: "I'm going to paint it a new color, I promise."
J: "And whittle it down?"
Me: "Let's change subjects."

And that is why its name is Horton.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tree Hutch - part 3

Okay, I am back with more on the tree hutch progress. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday working on it, with breaks for Valentine's dinner, church, and grocery shopping. It's actually really nice to have fresh food in the house again... But let's move on. The big news is that storage bench is almost built, except for the painting portion and attaching one piece.

The first step was to attach the pieces for the top of the storage bench.

I again used pocket holes to attach the three pieces together. So far, so good.

Then, I decided that I ought to assemble one of my Christmas presents in order to make further assembly a little easier. This actually took about an hour to assemble, but I quite like how useful it is.

I decided to use pocket screws to attach the four sides. I could have also used finish nails. For each of the pieces I screwed together, I also used wood glue to secure everything together. Putting the four panels together actually took a while.

I used beadboard for the backing windows. I took J along with me to Home Depot to help with getting the 8 foot sheet. We had the guy there cut it into the correct size pieces.

I used wood glue and 3/4" screws to secure it to the backside of the panels. The beadboard doesn't have to be exactly the right size to get the right effect.

Once the beadboard was in place, I used less expensive pieces of wood to create extra strength for the top of the bench.

This wasn't part of Ana White's original plans, but gives extra strength to the bench if someone sits on it.

After this, I seemed to forget to take pictures, but I used finishing nails to attach the molding to around the bottom. I attached the top pieces with finishing nails and screws (and, of course, glue).  The seat will attach with low profile hinges to the rest of the top. I couldn't find the hinges I needed at Home Depot and had to order them online. I am planning on painting it prior to attaching the last piece so I don't have to paint around the hinge. I did sand it down quite a bit so it is ready to be primed and painted. I also used wood filler to touch up a few problem areas, where the pieces didn't join properly.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the progress made on the hutch. The storage bench is mostly complete now. I am thinking of painting it a dark blue to go with our living room decor. My plan is to prime and paint the bench and then start on the hutch portion, attaching the two pieces at the end. I am feeling quite sore from all the lifting and sanding (the bench is getting quite heavy). I watched quite a bit of Downton Abbey while working on this project and am now almost done season 2. I might be all caught up by the time this project is completed!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reading Update

I hope everyone has been having a good week! Mine has been rather busy and hectic. One of those weeks where you really do have intentions of grocery shopping, but it just never happens, so you live on non-perishables. I'm hoping someone out there can relate. Maybe it's just me. Despite the busy week, J ended up surprising me with a necklace and flowers for Valentine's. He's so sweet to me!

I realize I haven't done any updates on books I've read in a while. I keep up with my "books" tab regularly, if anyone has been checking that out. I really do think I get addicted to fiction books when I read them and just can't put them down. My latest reading endeavor has been the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I, unfortunately, started reading the series before the last book comes out, which means I have to wait until October for the conclusion. I should have known better. I don't typically start reading series until all of the books come out so I can read the series all at once. And I usually devour the books. For instance, I finished the first 2 Divergent series books (Divergent and Insurgent, approximately 1,000 pages total) in 8 days. While working extra hours, visiting my parents, exercising, and getting ~8 hours of sleep per night. Although, like I said, I did seem to neglect the grocery store. Oops. Anyway, if you enjoyed the Hunger Games series, I would definitely recommend the Divergent series. Though quite different stories, they seem to have some striking similarities, such as a strong 16- year old female protagonist and a futuristic dystopian society based in the United States.

I was surprised to discover that the author of the series is so young (24 years old). I hope the third and final book lives up to the first two in the series. I remember being quite disappointed with the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I also finished up the Giver series back in November. The Giver is, largely, a novel for children. I remember reading the first book in elementary school, but I loved it. I did not realize that Lois Lowry made it into a series until quite recently. While none of the other books in the series (#2: Gathering Blue, #3: Messenger, #4: Son) quite live up to The Giver, I still enjoyed them.

Other than those series, I have, primarily, been re-reading some of my favorites, Harry Potter and the C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy. I also tried out the first book of the Percy Jackson series. It wasn't too bad for a children's book, but I found it a little too childish, reading it as an adult. I did think the interplay between modern society and ancient Greek mythology was quite creative, but the writing style wasn't my thing. I seem to remember the film doing poorly, as well. I recently joined in hopes of finding more books I enjoy. I am hoping to branch out from the young adult books that often are my go-to books.

I'm also pretty excited about some of the movies that will be coming out this year, like Ender's Game, Catching Fire (Hunger Games 2), Star Trek 2, Iron Man 3, etc. Lots of good things to look forward to.

I'm still recovering from a cold, so the updates on the hutch are forthcoming.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Foyer storage - part 2

I'm back with another update on the hall tree hutch that I started in this post. We went back up to my folks this past weekend, primarily for my mom's birthday, but my dad and I were able to make forward project on the hutch as well.

In December, we were able to finish all the cuts for the bottom part of the hutch, so we moved on to the top part. You can see my link above for the plans. They are modified from Ana White plans. Using the method I discussed in my first post, I continued to use the miter saw for the thinner wood pieces.

For the wider pieces, we tried using the miter saw one way and then flipping the board around the other way to finish the cuts. However, it would create a tiny crease where I wasn't perfectly accurate.

So, we moved on to this contraption of my dad's, which is a guide for the circular saw. It prevented the edge, but wasn't perfect with the angle.

In the end, we decided that the miter saw was the better approach, and then used a file to make things nice and even.

I used a hand saw to cut out the notches in this piece. But I forgot to take a picture of the cutting.

For the long curved upright pieces, we used a jigsaw. We first traced the curved pattern. The lid from one of my mom's pots worked perfectly.

My dad cut the first one so I could learn the technique.

And I tackled the second one.

Once all of the pieces were cut, it was time to do some assembling. Most of the assembly work will be done at home, but we could assemble the faces of the bench pretty easily at my parents'. To do that, I bought a Kreg Jig with a gift certificate we received as a Christmas gift.

Kreg jigs are used to make pocket holes in wood. This allows the screw to be hidden as it secures wood pieces together. It was actually really easy to use once I read the instructions.

This was our first attempt at clamping the pieces together as they are screwed in place. It ended up not working out perfectly because the pieces could still move up and down. We improved on this method later. We used wood glue in addition to the screws, which makes everything nice and secure.

And here is a picture of the Kreg Jig in action.

This is the improved clamping method, which secured the pieces in the x, y, and z directions and made for cleaner assemblies.

I will still need to sand everything down to make it nice and smooth.

Once the four box faces were assembled, we decided to call it quits for the day and celebrate my mom's birthday. I meant to get more done on the project yesterday, but ended up coming down with a cold, so that just didn't happen. However, I was able to take my miter saw home this trip, so I am pretty excited about all the fun projects I can now do! I promise to be back soon with more updates on this project. I'm starting to get excited to see it all come together.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Balluster painting - part 3

As promised, I am finally back with an update on the balluster renovation. Yes, I finally figured out the right word for what I have been painting for the last bazillion weeks. I found this out after doing some research on banister renovations. More on that later. First, here is the next episode of the balluster paint job. If you need step-by-step, please see my last post on the subject.

Without further ado, here are some before shots.

And after:

I have one more set upstairs to do before I can cross off this project as done! I am still in shock about how long this project has taken me. I feel that way about most trim work projects. The details take a lot of time to do them correctly. However, I do enjoy how much better our banisters are looking.

Okay, back to my research. So, J and I had a long discussion about the railing and large posts, so I started doing some research about what other bloggers have been doing with their railings.

Here is some of what I found.

Centsational Girl ended up staining her railings to a darker stain as can be seen in this link.
Chic on a Shoestring gives this tutorial.

And I'm having trouble finding the link, but I found this one on pinterest for painting the whole thing white.

I was actually in favor of going for the all white thing, but J was pretty against it. We both like the darker stain for the railings, but I am concerned that it won't go with our wood floors, which are pretty much the same color as our railings. I was also thinking of painting them a different color (like gray), but J wasn't a fan of that idea either. For now, I think we will just keep the ballusters white, but it was interesting to research and see what other people have done with their railings. Have you done anything fun with your railings? Any creative ideas?