Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We had a fun, family-filled Thanksgiving this year.  It was the first Thanksgiving in ten years that we have had family come to us.  My sister and her boyfriend drove in from Richmond, VA, and my mom came from Jamestown, NY.  We also invited our friends Kylie and Jesse to join us with their son, Dylan.

Before we ate, there was plenty of playing.

And when the food was ready, we finally sat down to eat.  The food was delicious, and the company was terrific!

And after days of cooking and prepping, I was especially thankful for everyone else doing the dishes!  :-)

A big thank you to everyone who came and made this Thanksgiving Day so fun and memorable!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Little Vacation House

Last summer, when Sharon and Jim visited for a month, they called the condo they stayed in "The Little Vacation House" because that was easy for Brennan to understand.  This year we told Brennan that Grandma and Grandpa had gotten a new little vacation house of their very own.  As we started decorating and filling the space, we decided it was appropriate to not only keep calling that, but to make it the actual name of the condo.

Allow me to welcome you to The Little Vacation House.

With a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and laughter, the space is ready to rent, only 42 days after closing.  Six weeks ago the condo was empty and dirty.  And today?  It looks like this:

Helping Jim and Sharon to fill and decorate this space has been deeply fulfilling and rewarding, not to mention fun!  I have always watched shows on HGTV and wondered, "Could I do that?"  Deep down, I always thought I could, but I wasn't sure.  This was sort of my opportunity to give it a try without the pressure.

Of course, I am a firm believer that spaces evolve and are never really done.  With that in mind, we decided to call the condo "done for now" (my decorating motto).  It is comfortable, beautiful, and functional, and everything now is just extra icing on the cake.  In time, we still want to paint the bedrooms and bathroom, install curtains, hang more art in the guest room and bathroom, cover the ugly control panel in the laundry room, fill the shelves with baskets... You get the idea.  But I do believe that anyone who stays in the Little Vacation House will be okay with those things being undone next month.  It is truly a beautiful home away from home.

Sharon and Jim will be renting The Little Vacation House for a month at a time, beginning December 1st.  If you or someone you know would be interested in renting it, visit their website and fill out the contact form so they can get in touch with you.  And let them know I sent you!  ;-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our New Chalkboard Wall

I love decorating and design, and I especially love design that mixes form and function.  When we moved into this house we spent hundreds of extra dollars you'll likely never see on gliding drawers for the kids' kitchen cupboard, a drawer for our bathroom (there wasn't a single drawer in the master bath), and other organizational items.  As much as I value a beautiful home, I value an organized, functional one.  I believe a space needs to be both beautiful and practical.

We have a wall across from our pantry that has been bare since we moved in.  (Actually, it had a drawing that Brennan made taped to it with painter's tape for several months.)  It seemed like the perfect space for a chalkboard wall!  A chalkboard would fill an empty space, create interest, and serve many purposes.

I learned several things about working with magnetic paint and chalkboard paint that I thought I would share, in case you are considering using it for yourself.

Before I started, I used painter's tape and a level to tape off my rectangle.  (Don't skip the level if you're going to do straight lines!)

Next, I did perhaps the most important step.  I used the existing wall color and painted over the painter's tape inside the rectangle.

No matter how hard you press down your tape, you will have some paint leak under it.  By painting the first coat with your wall color, you ensure that any leakage will be undetectable.  And, that first layer of paint protects other layers from seeping underneath.

After my sealer coat was dry, I applied a thin coat of magnetic paint with a mini roller.  I fully covered the space, but I didn't pile the paint on.  (Magnetic paint is full of small magnetic filaments, and many, thinner coats are better than fewer, heavier coats.)  Thirty minutes after the first coat was finished, I applied another coat.  Thirty minutes after that, I applied a third coat.  Altogether I applied five thin coats of magnetic paint.  This was a full small can of paint. (It said on the box that it would do three coats for a space about the size I was doing, but I'm glad I spread the coats out more.)

Just so you know, you don't have to use a magnetic paint primer.  I just really wanted to be able to hang things on my wall, and I wanted Brennan to be able to play there with his magnets.

This is where I reveal my first major oops in hopes that you will avoid doing the same.  When it came time to clean the magnetic paint, I discovered that it was an absolute beast to get off of stuff.  It was oily, gritty, and miserable.  Honestly, if you're a messy painter, you'll probably want to wear rubber gloves, because it was a lot of work to even get it off my hands.  And my painter's tray?  It was trashed.  I should have used a disposable liner and don't know why I didn't.  Honestly, when I saw what cleaning the tray was doing to my beautiful kitchen sink and wedding ring, I stopped caring about the tray and worked to save the other things.  The tray went in the trash.  It would have taken hours to get it clean.

Next, I applied my first coat of chalkboard paint.  One coat with a large roller.

Four hours later, I applied a second coat.  (This is per instructions.  I am not a patient person.)

When the second coat was visibly dry, I removed the tape.  Look at those lines!!!  I didn't even have to touch anything up!

We waited three long days for the paint to cure.  Then, I primed the whole chalkboard with a piece of chalk.

It used an entire piece of giant sidewalk chalk and made a huge dust mess on my floor.

After cleaning the mess and washing the wall, we were finally able to play!

Unfortunately, the the chalk dust continues to be a problem.  The practical side of me thinks I'm going to have to go buy chalk pens to avoid cleaning my floor every single day.

Have you painted a chalkboard wall before?  Have other fun, practical tips for marrying form and function?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween Ketchup

No, not real ketchup.  It's really "Halloween Catch Up." But much of this post revolves around food, so I thought that ketchup might be more appropriate.

We had a few fun Halloween festivities that didn't get recorded on the blog, so I wanted to go back and document them.

But before I do, allow me to distract you with Cora and her first Stella and Dot necklace:

You're never too young for fabulous accessories.

Okay, back to the food.

We host a small group from our church here every other week, and I have just loved preparing snacks and treats for our meetings.  For our first meeting a few months ago I did a pizza theme including...

veggie snack pizza

chocolate peanutty brownie pizza

 and fruit pizza.

For our meeting last week, I decided to do fall-like snacks.  (Over the course of six days I made five enormous batches of caramel corn.  As in, 35 gallons.  And I do believe every bit got eaten.)

Last Friday I took  about fifty baggies of said caramel corn to Jim's work for the office trick-or-treat.  It was fun.  Brennan, my little pizza boy (yes, we truly are food obsessed), enjoyed choosing candy with his friend, Mason.

Cora just enjoyed running away from Mommy and Daddy at top speed.  She did, however, slow down long enough to meet Junior.

She couldn't be more different than her brother.  Brennan wants nothing to do with people in giant costumes.  He does, however, get excited by silly little things.  And his latest thing is what I call "A sunny breakfast."

At least he doesn't slather his eggs in ketchup.
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