Sunday, September 23, 2012


As we announced in our last post, we're expecting a new addition to the family (a human this time, not another petson).  This summer happened to be the hottest on record, so pair that with the joys of pregnancy, and I basically became a moleperson for the summer, living underground (in the basement) and only venturing outside to dart to and fro my car to drag myself to work.  Thankfully, over the past few weeks, the temperatures have begun to drop and yesterday was the official start of fall.  I have been able to emerge from my air conditioned cocoon and enjoy the outdoors once more.  I can't tell you how great it has been to get out and not feel like an ant about to explode underneath a sociopathic kid's magnifying glass.

One of my first orders of business was to take inventory on the status of our Weed Forest and see what all I had missed over the excruciatingly long summer.  All in all, nothing too extraordinarily exciting, except for the Frankenfruit.  John built our compost pile a few months after we moved in and really, we haven't been the best composters.  One strange benefit we've reaped, however, is the fountain of life it provides to undead plants.  We've thrown a number of plants in there we assumed to be dead, only to find them revived and flourishing in the pile.  I'm not exactly sure what that says about our gardening abilities, but hey, at least some lives have been spared.

Anyways, on my journey around the yard, I noticed a large vine was growing out of the compost pile.  I'm not entirely sure what it is, but it has the markings of a gourd-like plant.  We have large leaves, the vine, little curly sprouts, and small yellow flowers.  After a week or so of observation, I noticed a small fruit had begun to grow.  Now, I'd say it's about the size of an egg and has a smaller little buddy nearby.  Still not sure what they'll grow up to be, but based on our compost contributions, I'd say a cantaloupe, some sort of squash, or maybe a pumpkin grown from last year's Halloween decor.

This is the larger fruit.  We had to cut a bit of the chicken wire away and lower him down into the pile before its weight became too much and it snapped off the vine.

Here's the newer, smaller fruit.  I like his fuzz.

The vine has started growing across the back of the pile and down onto the ground.  There are quite a number of little flowers, so hopefully more fruits will be on the way!

So, I'm oddly excited about these guys and I'm hoping they can power through and grow into whatever they're supposed to be.  Makes me feel a little better about slacking on adding a vegetable garden again.

The Gang Made a Baby!

Well, it has been nine months since our last post and I promise we haven't been slacking off the entire time.  Look!  We made this!

Needless to say, we've had a bunch of stuff going on.  What a better time to get back into (trying) to update the blog than three weeks into the third trimester?...

It wasn't really until the beginning of my third trimester when the nesting feelings and such kicked in, so over the past few weeks, we've been trying to play some catch-up.  I had mostly been in the "way too tired/gross feeling to actually do anything, so I'll just look around online for ideas" phase.  After a bunch of searching around on Etsy, I came across this seller and her adorable handmade mobiles.  I noticed she offered custom mobiles and thought, what would be more perfect than a custom mobile honoring our sweet and wonderful petsons?  I exchanged some messages with her and a month or so later, it finally arrived.

Here is little Chewie...



Sweet Dexter...

And finally, our dearly departed hamson, Owen, may he rest in peace.

I think it's pretty great and really special.  Little Baby Bedtelyon can go to bed each night with all of her big brothers looking down on her.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Entryway Edition

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently acquired a new bench for our entryway which set off a whole explosion of new ideas for a makeover.  Our bench is so large (I can comfortably lie down on it), it made the hanging shelf thing look so pathetic and measly in comparison and we knew a complete overhaul was necessary.  Going off some inspiration photos found on Pinterest, we decided to install some beadboard and build a wall mounted coat rack/shelf.

First step: hanging shelf thing gets the heave-ho.  More like gets the heck sawed out of it until John was able to rip it off the wall.  A stripped screw forced desperate measures.  As you can see below, John had to take the Dremel Multi-Max to it to first try to cut the head off the screw, and when that didn't work, he just cut the hole to bits until we could pop the shelf off.

Next step: building the wall mounted coat rack/shelf.  We're not carpenters or furniture designers, so it took me a couple months of poking around on the internet before I could find a plan of exactly what I had in mind.  In a stroke of luck, I came across this tutorial through a photo pinned on Pinterest (of course).  Going completely off of that tutorial, we picked up all our supplies at Home Depot and headed home to make our cuts.  Cutting the wood itself was easy peasy, but the crown molding was another story.  John had some difficulties getting the correct angles and our first attempt took approximately four hours... even though our Turkish neighbor's father (who speaks no English) came out to help... Once that first piece of molding had given all it could give, John headed back to Home Depot, found a piece of double-sided crown molding, made the cut, it fit perfectly, and it was all over in a matter of minutes.  I should mention this all happened the weekend before last when it was about 35 degrees and we were all bundled up in our winter coats, hats, and gloves.  After the cuts were made, we nailed on the trim, filled the holes, did some caulking along the seams, and took it downstairs for priming.

My lovely priming/painting station.
My lovely assistant.  He has a weird thing for plastic.
While the shelf was drying, we started in on the beadboard paneling.  Our first step on that was to install a thin piece of stop trim along the right side of the wall as a finishing piece for the paneling (so there wasn't just a weird raw panel edge).  After that was up, we cut the paneling to length (they come in 8' sheets and we decided to go with height of 5') and trimmed the bottom to fit over the baseboard molding.  We then did a dry fitting and used some old lipstick of mine (gotta love the Clinique free samples) to mark the register and outlet holes that would need to be cut out.

Step 1: Apply lipstick!
Step 2: Smoosh board on wall to create an outline!
John used his Dremel Trio to cut out the holes and the panels were ready to be installed.  John first used  paneling adhesive and 16 gauge finishing nails, but discovered the nails went all the way through the panel without securing it.  So, he switched to 18 gauge brad nails and that worked perfectly.  I was at work for the installation, but luckily, our neighbor was able to step in and help.

The paneling goes up!
We then installed a piece of chair rail molding along the top of the beadboard to cap that off.  John used some adhesive and brad nails to hang that, followed by some caulking to hide the seams.

The trim!
After everything was nailed into place, I filled all the holes with some Elmer's Carpenter's Wood Filler (in a little tub, not the squeezy tube which is awful and I would never, ever recommend unless you have a vice-like grip), waited for that to dry overnight, John sanded it down, and then it was time to paint.  Our first attempt went horribly, horribly wrong with the roller leaving a gross speckled/raised texture that was just nasty, so we gave up for the night and decided to take another crack in the morning.  So, I went to town sanding down the first attempt (which probably took an hour) and then painstakingly painted the entire thing with my trusty 1.5" Shur-line paint brush.  Luckily, it only took two coats and the beadboard was done.

In the meantime, I painted the shelf a nice light gray (Bedford Gray by Martha Stewart color matched to Glidden paint so we could just buy a little tester tub).  We had originally planned on painting the shelf white, too, but then realized we'd go from a blob of black to a giant blob of white.  Still wanting to keep it light and airy, we settled on a soft, kitteny gray.  When the shelf was dry, John drilled pilot holes and then counter sink holes so once it was installed, the screws would hide beneath the surface and we could patch over them.  John installed the shelf, patched the holes, and repainted and we were close to done!

Pre-hole filling, but it's getting there!  We picked up that giant cast iron "B" on sale at Restoration Hardware.  woop!
We had a slight delay in obtaining the hooks we had chosen to finish off the project.  Our Old Town Alexandria Restoration Hardware is sadly closing (boo), but we did score that giant "B" for 60% off.  The Tysons Corner Restoration Hardware was doing inventory the day I went in and wouldn't sell me the hooks (still don't understand that), so we had to order them and wait patiently for 4.5 days until they arrived this afternoon!  On the upside, they were on sale, so we saved about $36.  In case you're curious, we went with the Vintage Hooks.  After powering up with some Panda Express tonight, we came home and screwed those puppies in.

There's a tiny photo-taking John in the hook!
Bam!  It's done!
Don't you think the scale looks so much better?  And it's so much brighter!  Here's a side shot for you...

But how will it look all full o' coats and such??  Have a look!

We're still working on the shelf decor, so we just threw some stuff up there for photos.  Doesn't look half bad, though.  So, all in all, it took us about a week and half, with a lot of time spent on the crown molding and waiting for caulk/wood filler/primer/paint to dry.  I'd like to get a new appropriately sized rug for the entry way, add some pillows to the bench, and find some more or less permanent junk for the top of the shelf.  For now, though, we're happy... that it looks good and it's done.

Just another picture of Elliot because he's so darn cute.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Salvation Army Victory Bench

One of our very first purchases for Grafton was our entryway bench and cubby shelf thing.  It was great and held a bunch of our junk for a year, but one day, something switched in my head and I decided I hated it.  The bench and the shelf and their stupid selves had to go.  I don't like how dark they are, how plain the stupid storage cubbies are, and how small it looks on the wall.  Plus, when we removed it to paint, the shelf part got a little messed up and isn't 100% secure anymore.

Since we don't have an actual entryway/foyer or coat closet, I felt like it should all look nicer since that's what someone immediately is confronted by when entering our shack.  During my countless hours spent wasted on Pinterest, I came some inspiration which I, of course, can't find now, but this Pottery Barn example will do:

So, Mission: Hunt Down a Giant Bench commenced.  I really did nothing active to find one since it's hard to convince someone we need to spend money replacing something we already have and technically has nothing wrong with it except for earning my sudden and unrelenting distaste.  But when everything falls into place like destiny, who can resist?

A fun back story to set this all up for you: A couple years back I needed an oil change and took my trusty Ford Focus in to our local dealership.  While waiting, John and I perused the sale lot and couldn't help but notice how much nicer the new Focus looked and how nasty his old Toyota Yaris was and how much nicer he'd look tooling around town in an SUV.  To keep a short story short, we ended up going home with two new cars.

Fast forward to a month ago, we find ourselves at the same Ford dealership, this time with a small repair on John's Escape, and back out wandering in the lot.  Of course, they updated the body on the Focus again and I started getting that feeling... and we immediately left and walked over to the Salvation Army next door.  Lo and behold, right in the front, we come across a gorgeous bench that would be perfect for our entry way.  We're circling it and talking and trying to decide if it's too big or too expensive and maybe we'll just wait until 25% off everything Wednesday, but notice some older woman is also eyeing our bench.  Then we start feeling a little territorial and decide, yes!  We'll take the bench!  But... this kindly woman informs us her brother also wants it and she sent photos to him and he's still trying to decide.  What to do??  John was leaning towards letting her take it, but in my usual ruthless ways, I decide, we're here, he's not, we've decided, he hasn't.  Apparently, the rule at Salvation Army is whoever rips off the tag and takes it to the cashier first wins.  With a swipe of John's hand, the bench was ours.

Ta da!  New bench!  Aren't you jealous of our awesome shoe storage?...
Now I'd like to add a long shelf with hooks along the back, maybe try some sort of wall treatment, add a couple pillows, and find some baskets like the PB inspiration photo for storage.  It seems every time we accomplish something, ten more things to do pop up in its place.

Elliot loves it.  Just kidding.  Elliot only loves himself.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Battle of the Weed Forest: Part 2

In the continuing battle against our wild, unkept yard, last weekend we reclaimed another patch of land from the vines and pricker bushes.  Located in the back left corner of our fence, the vines and such created a decent looking patch of greenery in the warmer months.

See the patch of green in the back corner?  Past the azaleas.
However, once fall came and the leaves died, it was obvious all we really had was a nasty patch of pricker bushes.  Our plan is to one day landscape all along the fence line with little beds in each corner, so to start that, the strange pricker triangle had to go.

How it looked last weekend.

Strange vine growing up a tree.  And a board.  Not sure where that came from.
We raked and raked... and raked up all the leaves and then went to town hacking down the vines, cutting down some spindly trees, throwing large branches over the fence, and digging up stumps.  Once it had been cleared, we found a bunch of odd things like a mound of cement and random clumps of cement, a few old bricks, and a whole line of cinder blocks.  I'm pretty certain there are bodies buried in our yard.

The line of cinder blocks and some bricks.
Why are there so many cinder blocks in our yard??
After just a few hours, we were left with this... barren patch.  Mostly barren, I should say.  We're still working on the leaf removal.

I guess it doesn't look like much of an improvement right now, but it does make our fenced in space look so much larger.  In spring, we're hoping to plant a little shade garden with some hostas, lilies, ferns, etc.

Oh, and a special shout-out to our best little helper, Chewie.  He was extremely helpful in digging up roots and carrying away little stumps once I had ripped them from the earth.  Of course, they're now scattered throughout the backyard...

Look at those little dogs!