Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ding-dong - Dining room done!

I know it's not a lot but staining and polying the table, painting the chairs, and adding shades to the chandelier did give our dining room look a subtle shift to ... well, more craftsman, I want to say, but that's not really true. It's not one of those UH-MAY-ZING blog make-overs. No magazine shoot here either. Maybe that makes it more real?

At the end of the day it looks cozier now which what with the temperatures dropping and Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner feels just right.

Sometime these days I'll get started on hanging picture rails and finalizing mural plans. Yes, mural. I want to handpaint a frieze mural. I know I'm crazy.
In any case it will have to wait until the New Year. Right now we're already running around like chicken with their heads cut off. No need to speed up - it's a wild enough ride already!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dining room Chandelier Make-Over

 The Saga of the refreshing of the dining room look here at the little old house continues with an excursion into lofty heights. Yes, even the chandelier did not get away!

Here is what our dining room looked liked right at the beginning, just 3 years ago. So far we haven't changed much. We added a larger version of our old pedestal table that is more in proportion and keeping with the size of the room than the one we moved in with.
Now the larger dining room table got a mini make over and a new paint scheme.

Now the chandelier. This was an incredible inexpensive find at the Habijax store. Less than $10 for the chandelier, a bit of spray paint to turn the meh glossy brass into oil rubbed Bronze, and those nifty capiz whatchamacallits - done!

Now though I was craving a bit of texture. Seagrass or maybe burlap or something similar.

I did come across a good deal on six burlap mini shades on Amazon, and pulled the trigger!Here they are nicely arranged in a box.

They simply clip onto the light bulb which requires a bit of fine-tuning as you can see since the chandelier comes with chandelier bulbs, and those just aren't straight. You need to rotate the shades slightly, one by one, to account for the twist in the bulb, until they sit straight. Not all cattywampus like in this photo.

The shades dim the light just so to make it look cozy and warm at night while still looking light and airy during the day. I really really like the addition of the shades, even if it means that for some crafts I need to break out the big daylight craft lamp.

I also added a burlap cord cover to our chandelier. It's growing on me although I'm still not quite sold on it. Ergo, the lack of photo evidence. We shall see ....

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dapper Dining

I promised projects and posts and pictures, and you shall have all three!

So, sometime in the last year or so I got bit by the Arts & Crafts bug. No, not the DIY kind of bug but the Craftsman style design movement of the 1900s. The Arts and Crafts movement was an international design movement that flourished between 1880 and 1910, especially in the second half of that period, continuing its influence until the 1930s. It stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often applied medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. Colors were earthy, craftsmanship impeccable, decorating non-frilly and simple. To me it is best summed up as "Hobbit House Style." If you consider Bilbo Baggins' cozy abode as seen in the movies "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" the perfect home, you might be a candidate for the Arts & Crafts style.

Our house was built in 1914, toward the tail end of the Arts & Crafts movement, and while it's not a stereotypical example of arts & crafts architecture, it does feature some elements that hint at it like dominant brackets bearing the roof, exposed rafter tails, and more. And I really really love Bilbo Baggins' home. So much that it suckered me right into the Arts & Crafts design boards on Pinterest. While I'm not willing to go back and strip all of the freshly painted white trim work inside my little old house, I have slowly begun to add Arts & Crafts touches to our house. More on that in days to come!

A simple and much quicker Arts & Crafts update to our beloved dining room was to refresh our dining room set. Because, you know, I didn't have any other, more pressing projects lined up four weeks before my parents' visit.

Here is our dining room set pictured with two of the available furry supervisors: Athena, the cat, and Roomba, our foster pup. Everybody else didn't make it into the shot - too slow! The photo isn't great - the table isn't bright orange, I swear! - but you have seen this table and chair set before. It's a plain honey oak color - nothing to write home about.

In order to tie everything together I decided on a two-tone color scheme for the table with the pedestal in white and a stained top. A quick sanding and priming ensured the paint would stick and stand up to occasional misplaced kicks under the table.
Here, another supervisor joins the crowd - Turtle, the tortoise kitten. She came to us as a foster kitten through the local animal shelter as a two week old bottle baby, and while she eats for two, she has a hard time growing. She just now, after four months, finally made it past the two pound mark required for surgery (she needs to be spayed before she can go out for adoption). She's stinking cute but somewhat weird. She likes to watch and observe a lot, teeny head cocked a bit sideways, looking slightly bewildered.

My furry supervisors got bored after a while and wandered off to take a nap giving me free reign and a paw- and furless working environment. That was really essential for staining the top. I went with General Finished Gel Stain in Candlelit (get it here, for example) after reading plenty of sites and reviews on the ease of using it on other typical blonde honey oak cabinets. Most seem to use Java but I didn't want to go that dark.

It's nowhere near as red as it appears here. It's a warm, almost mahogany type of brown, very rich and 'glowy.' I loved working with the gel stain which went on smoothly and evenly without the need for wood conditioners, massive sanding, and more, like with usual wood stains.I had bought a quart of General Finishes Poly in Satin to seal the top, and working with that was just as easy. Three coats and the top is super silky smooth, and looks terrific!

After finishing the table I debated what to do with the chairs. Two-tone looks for them? Stain only? Both, Big Man and Little Man, vetoed these and suggested black chairs.
I wasn't 100% sold on the idea but forged ahead, and what can I say? My men were right - The black chairs work great with the two tone table!

After painting the chairs black, I sanded the edges a bit for an aged look and used the gel stain as a glaze - lovely!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Long Time No See

Wow ... that's been quite a ....break. Yes, break. Let's call it that. No, we didn't fall off the face of the earth but somehow life got crazy busy and pushed what little DIY spirit we had going on earlier this year to the back burner. Waaaay back.
Somehow it was easier to update family and friends via phone on project progress, if there was any, and for some inexplicable reason I just didn't have the time or energy to write up blog posts and take pictures.
Life simply got too busy.
Not in a bad way, mind you.
We are still happy and healthy and love living in our little old house and our wonderful, special histpric neighborhood.
We spent some time this summer exploring Washington, DC, tried Ueber and Airbnb (like the fearless, ferocious hipsters we are ... not), and simply had a rocking and rolling good time.
Little Man started 5th grade and heralded in his last year at our favorite and best-ever Elementary School in Jacksonville. I'm neither looking forward to nor am I ready to start choosing a middle school for Little Man just yet. He's thriving though, and there is simply no stopping him.
Chickem, cats, dogs, bees - all are still around, and a daily source of entertainment.

Hmm, whatelse?

Oh yes, there are projects!
And pictures!
And blog posts, so check back in tomorrow morning.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hatching A Coop, Part II

We may have been procrastinating on getting our exterior paint job done or working on other projects for our house BUT we haven't been really all that lazy either.
We've been building stuff - chicken stuff! After our peepers moved into their happy little brooder box, we got started on building their home in the back yard to make sure it would be move-in ready when they were old enough.

It started, of course, with a trip to the blue box to buy lumber and hardware.

Our chicken coop design consists of two stacked boxes, one framed out and with a roof to go on top, and the other one open with hardware cloth as an easy, breeze run, measuring 3'x4' and thus creating a whopping 24sqft of living space for our five ladies (more than the required 15sqft).

Plans all finagled out, we got busy cutting, and my Christmas present - the new compound miter saw - really came in handy! Loving my newest toy!

Then husband got real antsy to play with my new toy and I was delegated to take care of the are of the backyard that would house the coop. Moving the new structure into a place that's in direct line of the kitchen window (Chicken TV!) and five feet from the property line, meant our yard needed a bit of rearranging.

The African irises came up as did the Lantana and the Hibiscus to be replanted in a different area. The plywood board was used to determine the exact location for our coop.

And while I was happily digging in the dirt, Little Man and the husband started building the coop.We created a frame on top of the plywood floor, and then covered the sides with strips of plywood.

I got sidetracked and didn't take too many in-progress pictures but we cut out a trap door from the floor to create a doorway for a ladder down to the ground level, added nest boxes by dividing the front into three 12" sections using cut-offs from a couple of old boards we'd kicking around, and added a roof with vent.

Here it is in all its unpainted, unfinished glory! It's still missing its paint job and the roof vent cover, but it's in its proper place and looking good. I was most impressed by the fact it didn't feel like we just sacrificed 90% of our remaining yard - there is plenty of space around it to play with the dog, have friends over, pitch a tent in the middle of the yard, lounge in the sun, what have you. Sure, I'd like a bigger yard - the only thing I'd like to change about my house - but after mowing and weed-wacking, I'm not sure I really do want a bigger yard. Ha!

Anyways, as you can see the front has some sort of locking contraption and you can see hinges as well. That's because the front folds down for easy access to the next boxes (so we can steal eggs quickly), and the bottom front of the run folds up, so we can rake out chicken poop and , well, access the run part. It's all solid and heavy and not going anywhere!

This is what it looks like when you fold down the front. You peek right into the three nest boxes. Three is more than enough - rule of thumb is one box per five hens - but the math worked out this way and they'll have a choice. Since Silkies don't roost quite like other hens do, we added a low and removable roost to the inside of the coop (it's the block shape in the center). In the back you can see the chain that opens and closes the trapdoor down.

Since our coop design was inspired by the SmartCoop, we included the folding roof, i.e. the roof folds up on both sides for easy cleaning. After reading various articles and books on bedding, I decided on using sand (and so far it's worked beautifully!).

Here it is, primed and ready for paint! On top of the vent cover is Ferbie, our porch kitty, who just couldn't quite figure out what it was we were building and what it was for. She sure did not appreciate the addition of the roof vent cover because it messed up her resting spot (obviously sitting in the sharp edge is not as comfy as lounging on hardware cloth). Primed it looks like a cute little barn and for a moment I was tempted to leave it that way.

However, we decided it would be a great opportunity to test our house color scheme on a small version first and see how we liked it.
So the frame of the run was stained dark-brown (should have done that first before adding the hardware cloth, but it did turn our okay), the lower half of the coop was painted a lovely golden aka "SW Bosc Pear" (it's not as yellow as it looks in the picture; it's my camera messing with you, I swear!), and the top a soft sage green aka "SW Oakmoss", with a creamy "SW Antique White" trim.

So far, we haven't grown tired of the color scheme - phew! We may have a winner, but we definitely have a chicken coop!

Monday, April 28, 2014


And here they are, our little peepers! We ordered three silkie chicks through our local feed store Standard Feed, and after waiting for about two weeks we finally got the call we'd been waiting for with bated breath: Your chicks are here for pick-up!

We wanted silkies for their cute looks and less so for their egg production. As I mentioned a little while ago, we aren't in it just for the eggs - those are a neat side effect of having chicken. As a breed, silkies really appealed to us and we are madly in love with their looks. They are also a Bantam breed so they are smaller than the average chicken, but we were very surprised to see just how much smaller they are. The chicks were -tiny-!

We went with three different color for ease of identification: blue, white, and black. Since our family has Irish roots (and I'm a bit Iron Druid fan) we went with Irish names: Danu (pronounced "Da-noo") for our little blue chick, Niamh (pronounced "Neev") for our little white one, and Morrigan for our little black one with the attitude.Aren't they adorable?

See how tiny they are? This is Danu, our snuggle chic. she loves to cuddle right into the palm of your hand when you pick her up! They are about half the size of regular chicks of the same age.

And here's the peep squad rocking out under the red light of the heat lamp!