New Ceiling Light: High Enough For Our Tallest Friend

Last week, something really horrible happened. A hit-and-run accident resulted in one of our good friends’ untimely death. Mark Gobble, a Ph.D. student about to complete his dissertation, a newly hired professor at Boston University, an owner of a skateboarding company, a family man, and probably the coolest guy we’ve ever met, died last Sunday. Needless to say, it’s been a tough time.. and even tougher for his wife and two children. You can read more about him in this blog post written by his niece, Brooke.

The world feels different without him, but the world still spins. It still moves around the sun. Janella still wakes up every morning at 6:30 AM with angry demands for milk. And so we must go on.

Mark was really tall – he was around 6’4. Nick’s 5’8 and I’m 5’4 (both rounded up numbers). When Mark came over in October to bring a meal from him and his wife to help feed me and Nick when we just had Janella, we had a conversation about new ceiling lights and how we needed one for our living room, which had a boob light at the time.

We told him that he was our tallest friend in Austin (we have another 6’4 friend who lives in New Mexico.. Hey, Jesse!) and asked him how tall he was… so we could make decisions on ceiling lights and how high they should be in order to accompany him. Since he was taller than everyone else, we could be confident that the ceiling light would also be high enough for every other friend we have.

Well, Mark – we finally installed our new ceiling light in our living room. It looks beautiful… and it’s 6’8 off the ground. Definitely tall enough for you.

Thanks for bringing us to Austin. Thanks for your humor, your intelligence, your grace, your generosity, and for being our friend. We’ll never find a cooler friend than you… or a taller one.

FYI – The photos are NOT styled at all. We’re still missing one side table and we still need to set up our newly sprayed teal lamps with new lampshades. And I didn’t feel like putting away the baby toys. Ignore all of that. Focus on the ceiling light.

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To see what our living room really looks like when it’s not cluttered, check out this post.

The ceiling light is HUGE. I mean, H-U-G-E. Gigantic. It’s around 34 inches across. And we love it. It’s perfect. Especially when this was our inspiration photo, from Decor Demon:

I was afraid that it would make our ceiling feel lower, but it doesn’t! I’m really happy with it.

One thing down, only 327,121 more things to do left! PROGRESS.

Tutorial: How to Prepare Plywood for DIY Art

plywood

I have a few ideas for DIY art for my home, but pre-stretched canvas can get expensive fast.

Allow me to demonstrate. A standard 4 feet by 8 feet birch plywood, 3/4 inch, will probably cost you around 40 bucks. A pre-stretched canvas in the same size might cost you around 150 to 250 bucks, depending on the quality of the canvas and where you buy it.

Now, if you cut up that piece of plywood into four 2 feet by 4 feet pieces, you would have four surfaces ready for artwork for the same price: $40. To buy a 2×4 (or 24×48, in inches) canvas, you would have to fork over around $20. For four canvases, $80.

I want to do a painting for the space above our bed with plywood and latex (wall) paint, but I wanted to see if these elements would work well in creating an art piece. I didn’t want to do all the work just to end up with a disappointing result.

(Why latex wall paint? Well, I have a very specific color palatte that I would like to use for the painting for the bedroom, but I have no idea how to mix acrylic paint colors. I’m not an artist. It’s easier to get the specific colors I want from Home Depot than mixing them myself.)

I found a small piece of plywood smiling up at me in the garage so I said to it, “Plywood, you shall be experimented upon.” Don’t worry, no plywoods were harmed as the result of this experiment.

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I started with a piece of plywood, gesso, sandpaper, and wood filler. Not pictured is primer spray paint.

The first step was to make it smooth as can be. My plywood had splinters on the veneer, so I tried to sand them down with grit 80 sandpaper, but the splinters didn’t go away and I created new splinters.

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I tried 120 grit sandpaper and it worked so much better! Too-high grit sandpaper and plywood don’t play well with each other, apparently.

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Some really big splinters were filled in with wood putty.

The edges of the plywood are… well, it’s plywood, what do you expect?

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I read somewhere that you could add wood putty to fill in the edges to make them look more solid. I thought I would try it.

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I let it dry completely and then sanded it.

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Not perfect, but much improved.

Then I primed one side with primer spray paint, along with the edges. I ran out of the primer so I couldn’t do the other side, but that was fine because I wanted to experiment with gesso and see if it was better to apply primer on plywood before adding gesso or if primer was really unnecessary.

Finally… it was time to put on the gesso!

(If you’re wondering what gesso is, read this.)

See how thick it is:

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That’s from the seal on the bottle. So thick. You can use it to give your painting some texture, like I did on one side (more on that later). You could thin it out with some water if you want a smoother coat.

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See how thick it is. And you can see the primed side of the plywood in the above photo.

Then I just used a small paint brush and put the gesso on the plywood – thickly. I wanted to add some texture to the final painting.

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And on the other side (which was unprimed), I brushed the gesso on carefully to make it as smooth as I could. I wanted to see which application looked better. After two coats, it looked like this:

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It’s not as opaque as the primed side, so I had to do a third coat. it’s now 100% white but the texture is a little weird, almost like the wood buckled a little in some areas, a little wavy. I would definitely do the primer first for future plywood paintings.

Ok, finally ready to start painting!! I’ll show you the final result and how I got there in a later post. This post is too long already!

I won’t hestitate to do future DIY art on plywood. It’s pretty easy to do and the savings are great! But sometimes there are great sales on canvas that I just can’t pass up… such as this one at Michael’s:

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Buy one at regular price, buy second one for a PENNY. Isn’t that crazy?! I think I will stop by there tonight and pick up a couple. Why not?

(Check out your local Michael’s if they have this sale, too. This sale lasts until May 19.)

Spray Paint Mania

Do you get spray paint mania? Right after you spray paint something and you remember how easy it is and you love the result, you go foraging around the house looking for things you can spray paint.

I’m in the middle of a manic episode right now. I’m even considering spray painting my dining table. Fortunately, there’s a wise guy here named Nick who will stop me from committing this madness.

But nothing is stopping me from spray painting things that don’t work in our house in their original state.

It all started with this little project:

the thinker and the cat, before

The Thinker and the Snobby Cat were both Home Goods finds. We grabbed The Thinker a long while back for the office and I planned to spray paint it white, because it was just too dark and we don’t need any more gray things in this house. The Snobby Cat is a recent find and it was too silver – the kind that looks cheap. It looks better in the photo than it did in real life.

My original plan: turn The Thinker into a white statue and paint the Snobby Cat a cool orange.

I gave both mini-statues a coat of primer. This step changed everything.

The Thinker just didn’t look good in white. It made him look fat… well, not really. He just had too many dents and dings and he looked weird. This photo shows this, but this was after the first coat of teal spray paint.

The Thinker doesn't look good in white

Sorry to ruin the surprise but we decided to make him go teal.

Also, the white primer on the Snobby Cat looked really good and I decided that he had to get a lighter color than orange. What about a bright yellow?

Snobby Cat turns yellow

He’s still snobby, but he looks better doing his snobby thing.

Here’s The Thinker in all of his teal glory.

The Thinker goes teal

Why does my camera curse me so? That’s not teal, that’s blue, camera!

Here’s the same photo, edited heavily to show you the real teal color that it looks like in real life.

This, but only darker.

Well, this is a really simple project (spray paint projects always are) but let me tell you something that I learned…

Rust-oleum spray paint is the best.

rust-oleum spray paint is the best

It coats BEAUTIFULLY… Just be sure to shake the can constantly as you spray. It costs slightly more, but it’s worth it. It’ll be the only spray paint I’ll use from now on – if the color is right. I just wish they had more colors!

The Thinker was sprayed with Rust-oleum Satin Lagoon and Snobby Cat was sprayed with Rust-oleum Gloss Protective Enamel in yellow. Both great, bright, saturated colors.

The pair is now happy in their new home – the Expedit in our game room.

The Thinker and Snobby Cat in their Expedit Home

The nice thing about creating a home with a good color flow is that these things can be put in any room and still look good. So, even though they look good in the expedit right now, they might make a move sometime in the future.

Remember what I said about my current manic episode? Well… guess what I’m working on right now. Here’s a hint:

In other news – I hope you had a great Easter weekend!! We spent ours at the park and it was perfect. Mounting Bloggif

Home Dreams vs. House Realities

It’s fun to dream, but there always comes a time when you need to determine the difference between what will always be a dream and what is actually possible. And so it is with our house.

My dream is to have wood flooring throughout the house. Real wood – not too dark, not too light. Wide planks. Perhaps they’ll be made of maple. But the reality is that wood flooring is expensive and this house is not our forever home. I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s worth the expense – will we get back what we spent in resale? – or swallow my pride and install economical laminated flooring instead. I need one of these real estate experts from HGTV to come to my home and tell me what the right choice is. I’m still not sure.

Source: feedly.com via elisa @ on Pinterest

My dream is to have a beautiful patio with tiles on the ground and a fan above. Our master bedroom has a window that overlooks the backyard and we’ve been dreaming about changing that window into french doors and adding a balcony right over the patio. How beautiful would that be. I image us sipping a cup (or three) of coffee in our robes (that we don’t own) and chilling on our balcony in the morning dew. But I can’t even imagine how much money that would cost. I still want to put down tiles for our patio and possibly have some kind of shade – a pergola, perhaps? Again, it all comes to resale, it’s not about what I want.

Something to consider is the area where we live. I’m sure that certain improvements count more or less depending on the neighborhood. Right?

There are tons of other examples where my dreams and my reality collide, but these two are what I’m struggling with the most. And we’re also trying to decide which of these projects we should do first. The patio, so we can enjoy our backyard sooner, which we haven’t been doing because there’s nowhere to sit? The floor, so I can get rid of the cheap carpet that hurts my eyes and my heart and that’s probably hiding thousands upon thousands of… I don’t even know what and I don’t care to.

Any advice? Any real estate experts out there? Any offers of free labor? If you just want to commiserate with me, that’s allowed, too.

Fire is Evil

In all of my excitement in making this house our home, sometimes I forget that people lose their homes.

This is what happened in Central Texas over the past few days. Fires, with the aid of strong winds, spread through a state park and too many homes (1,386 as of today) were destroyed as a result.

It’s devastating. Last Sunday night, the electricity went out for 30 minutes in my neighborhood. I went outside and my neighbors were mulling around outside. I smelled smoke in the air.

It was the fire. I didn’t know. I went back in the home, watched a movie and waited for the electricity to come back on. Meanwhile, other people were evacuating their homes and losing their possessions.

And it happened so near. It could have been us. Some people I know have lost their homes. I can’t believe it.

At times like these, we’re not sure to do. If you want to help, donate to the American Red Cross of Central Texas or the Capital Food Bank of Central Texas.

This reminded me of this great article I read at Young House Love about what we should do to prepare in case there’s a fire. It might be too late for those who lost their homes over the past few days, but you and I need to get started. You never know.

All pictures are from Austin’s The Statesman website. See the whole slideshow here.

Okay, our garage is really full right now…

…but it’s filled with goodness!

Over the past two weeks, we’ve had some great luck with Craig’s List and thrift stores. We also finally hit up Habitat for Humanity’s Restore (the one in Austin is the original one, did you know that?) and was amazed at all the stuff in there.

First up, my favorite find – a dresser for the nursery!

We found this dresser at our favorite thrift store, Next to New (where we found our campaign nightstands). I saw it tucked away in a crowded area in the store and thought it would be too expensive. I pointed it out to Nick and he checked the price – it was around $225. Yeah, too expensive.

But the dresser had been there for weeks now and the price had dropped down to $56! We snatched that baby right up.

Finally… after months of looking on Craig’s List and sellers who never responded or sold their dresser after promising it to me and saying “sorry” to me when I knocked on their door, we now have an awesome dresser for the nursery! And this is more beautiful than any other dresser that I looked at, and at a better price. It was meant to be!

I’m not sure what our plans are for the dresser, so we’ll drag it up to the nursery soon and let it marinate for a while before we decide anything.

Oh – you noticed the missing drawer?

So sad. The dresser tilted over in the truck while we were driving it home, and this broke. But we’ll fix it, no worries.

The dresser also came with this mirror:

I’m not sure what we’ll do with it. Any ideas?

At the Restore, we looked for cabinets for our laundry room. This is what we bought:

We also bought a third matching cabinet – it’s not pictured here. These cabinets will probably require a lot of work – paint stripping, sanding, and painting. But it will be worth it in the end, especially for the low price ($55 for all three cabinets) we paid! I’m so sick of our little shelf that our towels and stuff always fall off, especially when Tala’s hanging out there.

The cabinets might end up a dark gray with the walls a light blue… Not 100% sure yet.

What else? I got this funky cabinet/side table at Goodwill:

It’s not real wood, so we’ll definitely be painting that sucker. Perhaps something other than white… maybe turquoise? It depends on what we’ll use it for – we could use it as a bar cabinet in our dining room or as an entry table. It has a little shelf that could be great for storing wine bottles or shoes, so we have options.

We also got nightstands for our guest room via Craig’s List:

I like the detail down the middle – with paint and new pulls, they will be looking snazzy in no time.

Okay, that’s the end of our thrifting spree! We have a lot of work ahead us in refinishing all these pieces, but right now I’m just giddy with the possibilities.

Can you tell I’m in a good mood?

Broken AC + 100 Degrees = Not Fun

This is the forecast for this week in Austin.

Despite being 28 weeks pregnant with a big baby (doctor says it might be 8 pounds, which is bigger than the normal 7 pounds), I am definitely not going to complain about the heat. I love the heat. It’s not humid here like DC or Florida, where I spent 25 years of my life. I still remember the chill and the snow of winter, so I am not taking the summer for granted at ALL.

But I have to bow down to the person who invented the wonderful, amazing, and awesome Air Conditioning. Without it, I would melt. I know this, because a few weeks ago, our AC stopped working. In the 100 degree heat.

We woke up one morning feeling a little warm. After checking the AC temperature several times, Nick decided to check the AC fan outdoors (see this pic if you’re not sure what we’re talking about – I’m not sure of the right term) and found out that it wasn’t spinning anymore. By that time, it was nighttime – on a weekend. And it was HOT, dammit.

After calling a couple of places, we finally found someone who could come on the weekend and check out our outdoor AC fan. He found the problem really quick – this thing was broken.

This is called a capacitor, and it had to be replaced. This one had popped out at the top – see the next photo:

We needed a new one. This little thing cost us $200. Best $200 we’ve spent all summer. But it would have been cheaper if we knew anything about ACs and bought one of these capacitor things ourselves.

The guy said that the popping thing happens in extreme heat sometimes. We asked him how we could prevent it from happening again. He said to water the AC fan from time to time when it gets really hot.

So, ladies and gents, if you’re living in Hades like we are, be sure to water your AC fan periodically.

(gets off my soapbox)