Monday, January 26, 2015

Painted Dresser!

Most of our furniture has come to us via thrift stores. We've purchased things we kind of like but aren't really tied to, because that's not been the stage of life we're in. This means of course that we've owned some really ugly things. We didn't bring any furniture with us when we moved from Spokane to Cleveland because it was cheaper not to, and besides, most of it was really ugly. With the exception of our mattress there, we probably paid a sum total of $50 for all the furniture, so I guess you get what you pay for. 

Now, we mostly like the things we own. They aren't perfect, and don't all work together, which sometimes really bothers me, and sometimes doesn't. When we moved to Ohio, Carson bought our table and chairs, the chest we use as a coffee table, a rocking chair, a mirror and a dresser at one thrift store (without consulting me). It was great to have furniture, but all of it had wood tones and was very very BROWN. When he came home with all of those things, I immediately said to myself, "I can refinish these!" but I'd never done such a thing and Carson liked all the different wood tones and the winters don't lend themselves to re-doing furniture outside, so the clashing tones stuck. 

Fast forward (yeah right... longest intro ever) to our apartment in Florida. I like the layout of it, but it's very cave-like inside. All of those wood tones couples with our already brown trim, our brown couch, the brownish brick fireplace... it wasn't making things look less cave-like. Paint was needed. 

Around Christmas sometime, I told Carson that I wanted to repaint the dresser we now keep in the living room. To my surprise, he was on board. I told him I was thinking a light greenish blue and he was still on board. And he wanted to help. Done. 

Side note: We've never done a project together. I'm way more "fly by the seat of your pants" when it comes to these things and he's way more "take your time", so most of these sorts of things are done when he's not here. So this was essentially a relationship test. 

We both have weekends off, so I checked the weather on our first free weekend of the year and saw that it was going to be 65 and sunny all weekend and designated that as the chosen weekend. We went to Lowes and picked out a paint chip, grabbed a can of paint to mix it in, and headed toward the paint mixing guy with trepidation (who even knows if there's an etiquette at paint counters?!). They mixed it up and we headed home with brushes, sandpaper, paint, and nothing but a plan to finish the thing. 

I'd wanted to use chalk paint because I hear that you don't have to do much to prep it, but this was a project we did no research for, so we'll try DIY chalk paint soon.

On Friday night, we began to sand. More accurately, Carson began to sand. I took the pulls off the dresser and spray painted them.

In the background of this picture are the piles of things we took out of this dresser to paint. Our apartment was so messy while we did this. 
Also, the top of the dresser came to us like this, and I had no success getting the gummy rings from whatever that is off the top, which is what motivated me to refinish it in the first place.

The pulls needed quite a bit of spraying. I used a Rustoleum spray in Oil Rubbed Bronze, which I'd read about on various blogs. It was every bit as wonderful as I'd heard, although very difficult to photograph.
The pulls required multiple coats of paint, and I used toothpicks to keep them upright.

This one got a little dust from the sanding on it after it was dry. I sprayed these a few times at night, and then once more in the morning, when I could see the parts I'd missed a little better.

We were planning to catch up on a couple shows, but there was a glare on the laptop, so we just listened to comedians on Pandora instead. 

Carson sanded three drawers on Friday night, so we got to work on the last three and the dresser itself. I did maybe one and a half drawers (and that's generous), and part of the dresser. It turns out that I am not a good sander. Carson told me at one point that he thought renting a sanding machine was about $10, so I pushed for that but we just used our hands.

It was a LOT of work and Carson decided that because I wasn't really doing a great job, it wouldn't hurt for him to do it alone. So I went inside and organized his dresser and closet, did some laundry, and tried to organize the piles of things that would be going back into the dresser. Toward the end, I went to Publix for fried chicken to feed the hard worker. It probably took 4 or 5 hours between the two days to totally sand things down. It would have taken me a week and it still wouldn't have been finished.

It was a little dusty back there, but they looked so good!

We got out the plastic tablecloth I purchased months ago in anticipation of painting this, the painting supplies, and went to work. The first coat of paint took 45 minutes, then we waited an hour until it seemed pretty dry, and did a second coat, which I'm pretty certain took less than 30 minutes.
The color we used was Valspar Secluded Garden.

In the light, the paint went on so light and I was worried about the color choice (but knew I would stick with it because that was a ton of work!). It dried to the perfect color, thankfully.

We went on a mission for chips and dip that we thought we deserved (and we never ate them, I just realized) and when we came back, the paint was pretty dry so we brought the dresser inside, I screwed the pulls back on, and we admired it.

Also, new living room configuration because I CANNOT STOP rearranging things and also because that corner looked empty now that there's no Christmas tree to fill it up.

We set the TV on one of the black cubes we have while we were moving the dresser outside and decided that we really liked the placement. I suggested that we stop by Goodwill and look for a low table (the cube was just too small) to put there, with a budget of $12, all that was left of my tip money after paying for paint. What do you know, there was one for $8.99, so we bought it and put the cube under it to hide the wires.

This was a fun thing to do together! We have lots of things to do and not do in the future (for instance, Lindsay won't be sanding so don't count on it) and are looking forward to the next project, undecided but coming soon. 
That rocking chair had better watch out.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things I Like About Where We Live

We live in a cave of an apartment. It's so dark, there's no natural light (sometimes, when it's very sunny, we get a 10x10" patch of sunlight in the middle of the living room), and all the trim and doors are brown, which doesn't help it feel lighter. That said, I don't hate this place. Other than the whole very brown and dark things, there's actually a lot to like. Here's a list:

We have a dishwasher. We have never had a dishwasher in our married life and so this is great. we sometimes forget about this wonderful contraption and wash dishes by hand. 

Because it's dark, it stays cool in the summer and we don't have to crank the air waaaay up. 

I like the flow of the kitchen, dining and living room way better than the last place we lived. This house would have been better to host community group, which we did in Cleveland but don't do here.

The kitchen has tons of cabinets, lots of counter space, AND a pantry. Win. 

We don't have to go into a creepy basement or to a laundromat to wash clothes. 

I love our fireplace. We have't used it yet, but I love the way the mantel looks

Our view in the back is just trees. No one behind us. Lots of poison ivy out there which is not a positive thing but just a view of trees. 

I've always loved stairs which we had in our little house, but I'm thankful that this is a one story. I've discovered that I like places that are cozier, so I prefer living in a smaller space that isn't really open and airy. No idea why, and my Pinterest boards don't suggest that :)

We have two bathrooms. Carson calls the guest bathroom his, and the master bathroom mine. Two bathrooms was high on my list because... well because I'm sensitive to smells and you know

The bathrooms don't have windows. I hate windows in bathrooms. I'm always worried that someone's out there looking in, even if it isn't on purpose. Whenever I go to someone's house and there's a window without blinds, I hate it. I can do without light in that room.

Because it's a small space, this place heats up and cools down pretty quickly, so we don't run the air or heat all the time, which seems to save money!

I'm usually at work before the sun comes up on the week days (ugh) but when I do get up after the sun, it's not because it wakes me up. The benefit of having a dark apartment is that nap time and mornings aren't blinding.

We live right near a bus stop, which is great because Carson rides the bus.

Not having a basement helped us to get rid of things! Carson's donated or sold lots of books and I may or may not have donated a few things without his knowledge (I've since told him... more on that another time). The closet in the guest bedroom is bursting at the seams, but I'd still say it's impressive that we've fit a basement into a closet! (okay, under the guest bed we have nothing but boxes of books. BUT STILL. 

All in all, I like this place. We aren't decided on whether or not we'll stick around for another year's lease or look for something closer to campus. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Christmas Hedgehog

My brother once had a real hedgehog named Pinecone, who after months (weeks maybe?) of love and affection never got any less prickly. She liked Scott, if I remember correctly, but bristled at the thought of the rest of us. Pinecone went to live with a loving family that hopefully didn't get poked too much. 

My brother does love animals. He has a bunch of goats right now, and also bees, which I don't think you can really love. When he was little, he loved the plastic piggy banks Old Navy used to sell, so I'd get him one each year when they'd come out with different styles. I think of him when I think of animal shaped things, because he appreciated them when he was like 12. He's almost 20 now, and probably doesn't appreciate being thought of when I see funny animal things anymore. That time in his life is over. But it's never over for me. 

(well, now it probably is, because what's coming in the pictures isn't pretty)

Some time ago, I was online and saw someone's tutorial for a stuffed hedgehog. Not taxidermy, of course, but a stuffed animal version of the little guys. Immediately, I thought of Scott's former hedgehog. I could make this! Scott would love it! And then I remembered that Scott was a teenager (this was probably three years ago) and thought that I should cool it on the animal thing. So I deleted the tutorial from my ideas list and never looked it up. Mistake.

It came to mind when Christmas brainstorming this year, and so I thought "What the heck? Why not?" Everyone needs one weird gift from someone who doesn't have a clue what to get them, so I stepped up to the plate.

My vision was a long, 2D version of a hedgehog, something like this (which I didn't see until now. It would have been smart to google image this idea first). I drew my idea on printer paper.

I cut it out, realizing that it was a lot flatter than I imagined. Oh well, I could sort of loosely use this as a pattern. 

I used a plaid flannel that we found at Jo-Anns for the body.

Oh boy, things are shaping up a little weird. 

I used a linen-looking fabric for the nose of the hedgehog. (the same fabric I used for the bathroom curtains in our last house

I did this during our Christmas movie marathon, and we watched A Christmas Story during most of this creating. 

I sewed the little guy together (I had to hand-sew because my bobbin case needs to be replaced - which made the hedgehog look that much more wonderful...) and turned him right side out and his face looked way longer than intended. His body looked okay, but I forgot to account for what he'd look like stuffed. 

Carson took this picture when he was just finished being sewn. 

And for whatever reason, I put my initials and the year on it so people knew that I was 25 and not 7 when I made the hedgehog. 

And then I sewed beady eyes on him (couldn't decide if I wanted to make a pink nose, but decided against it) and stuffed him with fiber-fill. I used a chopstick to get the filling in his spikes and nose. 

Nervous laughter erupted when Scott unwrapped the thing in broad daylight. "What IS that?" my sister asked. Nobody said it was "kinda cute" because it really was so horribly bad that it was funny. I wouldn't REALLY say that the hedgehog was the joke of Christmas, but certainly a joke. I didn't take it personally (although I do know that I have no future in making stuffed animals unless I have a firm pattern) and it was kind of fun to have something I made laughed at and passed around even though it was embarrassing to have my name attached with the creation of this creature. He made it into the preliminary round of the family Christmas picture. Even Mini is like "WHAT IS THAT THING?" although she could be confused about the disco ball.

Anyway, that is the story of the Christmas Hedgehog. Should you want to make your own, I'd recommend looking at pictures first, and make sure you're okay with your creation being mocked mercilessly. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Since I don't take pictures of Carson heading off to school on a daily basis, I sort of forget to write updates about him! You won't be surprised to hear that he made all As in his FIVE classes last semester, or that in addition to being a graduate assistant and grading a million papers, as of last semester, he is now assistant editor of a journal on campus, and the regional representative of a society. Carson says "yes" to things and takes on so much each semester, that it's overwhelming to ME. Either he's very good at hiding the stress, or he's just amazing at taking on tons of things at one time. I'm thinking it's the latter. He was on break from mid-December until early January, but he still went in to the office or worked on things daily, often feeling bad for only giving 100% instead of his usual 700%.

Carson returned to school the first Wednesday of the new year, which was sort of a strange day to begin the school year. He is TEACHING this semester for the first time ever, which is really exciting! He's got a class of 48 students for Multicultural Film in the 20th Century. Nope, that's not remotely what he's studying, but his funding this year is from the Humanities department and they have about 12 sections of this class each semester, so there you go. He's having fun so far, and loves teaching and finds his students to be very engaged and interested in the material, which is super encouraging.

Beyond teaching, Carson is in four classes and is studying one language (he explained that this is not an additional class, but I believe it is graded and there is work required, so I'm not clear on the particulars). That language is Ge'ez, which I'm guessing you hadn't heard of either. It's an ancient Ethopic language that was essentially a precursor to contemporary Amharic (but that's how I understand it - so click right here for real information on it). His other classes contain more words and phrases and people groups I've never heard of and cannot remember.

Carson says that this semester is going to "kick his butt", which he has said for every semester since undergrad, and at the end of it, he somehow emerges with an A. I anticipate this semester as being no different. He's certainly busy though. He leaves on the 6:30 bus every morning (free bus fare with student ID!) which gets him to school at around 7:15. He spends his days studying, researching, writing, preparing to teach, teaching, and in classes of his own. He catches the 5:35pm bus home Monday-Wednesday-Friday and is home by around 6-6:30 (his class on Tuesday and Thursday gets out at 5:45 so I pick him up). We eat dinner, watch Jeopardy, and either hang out talking or being lazy in front of the TV in the evenings before we go to bed at about 9:30.

I've probably said this before, but I take off weekends and Carson doesn't study on Saturdays so that we can spend the day together. Sometimes we plan our Saturdays with a trip to Goodwill (the Goodwill stores here are simply amazing and there are a ton of them and they even have bookstores which you know we love) or a walk around a lake. Sometimes we plan to clean our apartment or laze around in sweats, watching movies. The weekends are what we look forward to now, a chance to sleep, connect and explore.

Carson's week and his studies impress me. Without complaining, he takes on so much. In a way, he does do it to himself by biting off a lot more than many people could chew, but unlike some (okay, ME), he doesn't complain about over committing. He'll comment on it sometimes and wonder if he'll survive the semester, but he keeps his head down and plows through. Still, we're looking forward to May, when things get slightly less busy, even if only slightly.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Trip to the Frozen Tundra

Do you know how it feels to go from Florida to snowy Virginia in January? 
When I booked a trip to see Brooke and meet her sweet baby, the part of my brain that was supposed to remind me that it was going to be cold was stubbornly refusing to work. A week before the trip, I checked the weather and realized that oh yeah - it's not just a mild winter - I live in FLORIDA where it is warm and everywhere else is cold. 

That's just a preface to tell you that not only was the week cold, it was COLD. And windy, which to me adds an extra dose of unpleasant to already unpleasant temperatures. We are both from Beaufort, so despite both of us having lived in cold climates before, we spent most of our time indoors, which was fine by me. You get to catch up and cuddle babies more that way anyway. 

Here's my view from the window of the plane. A plane which was so tiny that they wheeled little stairs up and we had to go outside before shivering into the warm airport. Welcome to Washington, DC indeed. 

Brooke and a sleeping baby were waiting in the pickup line for me, and my bag was the first one off the carousel (that's a first). I got to take in baby Clayton's sweet snoozing self for a second before we we were off to their home.

Brooke and I ventured out that evening for supplies for the baby's nursery.

And I got lots of time to snuggle with Clayton. He fell asleep on me very soon after we met, which is basically my favorite thing ever.

The next day was really cold, so we didn't even plan to venture outside. We cuddled with the baby, ate a late breakfast, did a little crafting, and just spent time inside.

We also bathed the baby, which taught us a valuable lesson - do not bathe a sleepy, hungry baby. He looks happy here, but it really wasn't enjoyable for him.

We exchange gifts each year and decided to wait until I visited to do it in person (and save on shipping). Clayton helped.

While Momma got ready the next morning, Clayton and I hung out by the window. I'm pretty sure it's his favorite spot, because whenever he'd fuss, if I brought him to the window, he'd just stop and stare and coo. His little facial expressions are just adorable.

We went to Tyson's Corner, a huge mall not too far from where Brooke lives. Clayton fell asleep in the car on the way there at about 1:45 and when we returned after 7, he was STILL asleep. That's the way to say we shopped for a long time and had no idea he could sleep so long in a public place.

 At the mall, we took our "year" picture, which should probably have been more embarrassing. I heard people whisper "Are they taking a picture?" as they walked past, confused.

The next day, we went to the Reston Town Center, which is right across the street. In the summer, it's an easy walk, but this was winter, and it was windy and the sidewalks were covered with snow and there was a baby involved - and let's be honest, we probably would have driven anyway. No pictures, but I thought it was so cute and would love to explore when it's warm. I'll have to come again.

Once upon a time when we both lived in Beaufort, we made Rice Krispy treats for the fall festival. We think of it as a tradition, but we only did it twice, and then we both moved away and it's been over seven years since the last time. Anyway, because it was tradition and because they just sounded good, we made some. Brooke caught the marshmallows in her mouth easily, and I didn't try because we would have needed to run out for more marshmallows.

We worked on the sailboat mobile for Clayton's room. It didn't get finished before I left, but I have every confidence that Brooke will be able to complete it, despite the protests that she isn't crafty.

Saturday morning, I got some more baby cuddles in and we snuck in some episodes of How I Met Your Mother, which Brooke is trying to finish.

We braved the 16 degree back porch for a picture sans coats.

And I got a Kauffman family Christmas picture, complete with smiling baby.

Brooke dropped me off at the airport and I sailed through security, where they let me keep my jacket and shoes on and just go through a metal detector. It was so easy and strange to me.

I did have to wait outside to get on the tiny plane. I'm so thankful that it was sunny. I checked the weather there and the "feels like" was 5 degrees. Brrrr.

Carson picked me up and we went to a Chilis for dinner. It had a kiosk where you can pay from your table and play games. We played Life.

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