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    We're two avid DIY-ers raising two rambunctious boys while tackling large and small projects, living to share our tale. All with the hope to inspire and encourage others.

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    After a rainy week in Minnesota, we finally got a clear, sunny day. Naturally, the day we left. Puffy, fluffy clouds over last season's burned hills. And yet, still beautiful. #latergram Tagged by @mrsclh for #widn Cleaning up most of today's mess. And admiring the boys' Lego creations. Always busy building. Tagging @iheartorganizing @aquahaus @houseofearnest if you want to play along.

Dining Lights

Back when we bought this house, the front, more formal dining room had an incredibly gaudy light fixture.  It wasn’t anywhere near our style, and it hung about 40 inches from the floor.  Super strange.

New-House-Dining-into-Living-Room April 13 2012

After bumping into it too many times, we took it down and have been living without a light ever since.  So glamorous, we are.


And then we changed out the doors for a window.


And pulled off all the sheetrock, making the dining room look even more amazing…ly neglected.


Right now we’ve got patched sheetrock walls, in need of a coat of knock down texture (to match the original walls) and then trim, primer, and paint.


Getting my butt moving on this has made me want to finish the damn room already.  I’ve got a plan for new curtains, and I’ve told myself I need to pick out a light.  After more than two years without.  Problem is, I’m terribly conflicted as to what I want.  Maybe I haven’t found the one yet and that’s my problem.  At any rate here’s what I know I do, or in some cases, don’t, want.

No bare or exposed bulbs.  While I think this fixture from Crate and Barrel is beautiful, I’m not sure the exposed bulbs would offer the warm, inviting glow we want.

Which brings me to my next check point;  soft, diffused light.  We had a cheaper down cast barn style design and hated how it directed the light.  So, nothing harsh or only down directed.

I love dome pendants, but the light is directed down.  So something like this probably wouldn’t work either.

Preferably two or more bulbs, but it has to be a single box installation.  Which brings me to my internal debate.  Do I go with a classic drum shade?  Like West Elm’s Short 25.5 inch diameter drum pendant in natural for $150:

Or the Oversized Equator pendant, which is the widest at almost 35 inches in diameter and priced at $199.

Or a similar option at sister store Crate and Barrel, also $199, but smaller at 28 inch diameter.

We had the Eden pendant in our last dining room and loved it.

Dining Room May 2011

If a drum shade, I’m kind of leaning toward a natural linen look over a bright white.  Question is, would a round shade look strange over a seven foot, three inch long by four foot wide rectangular table?  Even if it is 35 inches wide?  It certainly would be nice to have a round shape to soften the hard lines of the table and chairs.

On the other hand, a longer, rectangular fixture would look more proportiante with the table.  Like West Elm’s Rectangle Capiz in gray for only $175, but it might be too frilly when paired with a Mission style table…

In terms of color, this four bulb dark fixture would pair nicely with the entry light across the room.  And the shades point the light up, so that would work.

A rectangular fabric covered shade kind of marries the drum shade and rectangular design.  At $250, it isn’t that much more expensive than the other options, either.

Decisions, decisions.  What’s a girl to do?  Which would you choose?  Feel free to share lights not on the list, too.

Green Goodness

Finally I feel like I’m making progress with our plantings.  With the exception of the areas closest to the house, I’m almost done adding plants to the front.  At least the half that borders the house and deck.  I still have to deal with the expanse between the driveway and road.


I’ve been good about following my plan.  Want to see what I’ve finished so far?  Here’s the front edge of the bocce court, looking toward the driveway:


And looking back the other direction:


I find I’m most attracted to structured gardens with a variety of plants.  In this area alone, there are 8 different plants.


As with most purchased plants, they’re on the smaller side right now.  Hopefully they’ll mature and fill in the areas between.


Just off the front steps, I’ve added three Russian Sage plants.  The colors are great and smell fantastic.


Along the walkway, I chose a row of 11 boxwoods for year round greenery.  A few drought tolerant yarrow are there and have already started to spread a little.


In the back, I still have a lot of work to do.  But, I did start a row of 13 Foerster’s reed grass I found for 3 bucks each at Lowe’s.


Maybe next year they’ll look more like a native grass, sprouting the tops.


Come fall and cooler temps, I’d love to make more progress out here.  At any rate, it’s a step toward the results I’m aiming for.

Kinda, Sorta Landscape

You know I love about making my art?  I don’t feel bad when I get sick of it and want a change.  Which is exactly what happened with the ampersand I painted for our master bathroom.


It was fine, and filled the wall okay.  But it was elementary and rather boring after a while.  Using the same canvas, I set out to paint a very loose, abstract landscape.  Here’s how it started:


Too bright, and almost as boring as the ampersand.  I waited a day to be sure I didn’t like it (I didn’t) and focus on what would make it look better.  More muted colors, different proportions of the darker ‘mountain’ areas, and more blending.  So, here’s the same landscape, version 2.0.


Not terribly different, but different enough that I like it.  Now to frame it out.  Maybe with pine 1 by 2 lumber, like I’ve done before.  Or just maybe with some of my cedar pile.


It’s a bright, colorful spot against the dark walls.


Having all the supplies and reusing the canvas means it was a free project, too.  Hooray!


I left some texture in the sky and grass, which I really like.


Not too bad for a few hours of painting.

When brainstorming ideas, I thought about getting another engineer print done.  This time, of the hot air balloons we saw last month.


Being in a bathroom, with excess moisture/steam, I’d have to frame it behind glass.  Maybe it’ll still happen, even if in another room.  Engineer prints come in black and white only.  I think it’d be fun to color over the balloons so it’d look something like this:


I do need large art to flank the entertainment center.


With just a little color, and a lot of contrast, cutting the above image in half could make a cool diptych type set.  Not sure yet, but I really like the idea.  Assuming coloring over the print would work well…  What art have you covered over?  Any fun engineer print projects you’ve tackled?

Big Ass Benches

We’ve got scrap piles for days.  Seemingly of anything and everything.  Including a few beams we didn’t use for our deck, walkways, or stairs.  To use a few up, Ben built what we’ve dubbed ‘Big Ass Benches.’


They’re huge at 8 feet long and weigh at least 150 pounds each.  Two fill in the space by the waterfall, around the fire pit.


To build these behemoths, Ben cut an 8 foot piece for the seat and two 3 foot tall sections for arms.  Scraps of 2 by 4 work as cleats and 2 by 6 boards for the backs.


Long screws go through the sides and into the seat.


Back boards connect to a small chunk of wood.


Along with the two in the back, we’ve got another on the front landing.


It functions as a bench (duh!) and a railing, keeping people away from the far edge and steep drop to the driveway.

Box it Like it’s Hot

This project is a shameless West Elm knock off.  The Contrast boxes are fun and useful in nearly any room.

But, only the tray is available right now.  Hence the knock off.  I found the perfect wood while picking up some other supplies at Home Depot.  In the aisle with pre-cut sheets (varying thickness MDF, peg board, and plywood), I saw these 1/2 inch thick solid oak boards.  Only $2.50 per 1/2 inch by 5.5 inch by 2 foot board.


I grabbed three and started building when I got back home.  Using the width of the plank as my top and base, I cut two rectangles at 8 inches.  To create the sides, I cut mitered corners to fit around the base.  Not on top, as I did with my recent tray project.  So the inside of my long pieces were 8 inches, short sides at 5.5 inches.


This is where a pin nailer comes in very handy.  For each side, I’d brush wood glue on each corner or joint, hold it in place until square, and then shoot four or five 3/4 inch long nails in.


It leaves teeny holes, but holds everything together until the glue sets.  For my triangle lamps, I used this same method of nails and glue and they’ve held up perfectly.  Now, to deal with the recessed top.

West Elm’s version has a routered top, but I decided it would be quicker and just as effective to add little ‘posts’ to each corner.  After measuring the inside of the box, I subtracted a half-inch and glued them in.


My top is a 5.5 by 8 inch rectangle, allowing it to rest inside the frame, on atop the corner posts.  To accommodate the leather strap handle, I measured my leather.  At 3/16 thick, I cut a slightly larger slot by drilling holes in each end and connecting the pieces with a funky vibrating saw.


Before finishing, I sanded everything with fine paper.  Using stain and paint I already had, I finished the outside with stain, and the inside and top edge with paint.  Four coats of Polycrylic to protect everything and give a little shine.  For under eight dollars, I have a cute box to stash our junk on the coffee table.


It’s a nice wooden accent, but I’m worried it looks too tall.  Almost like a Kleenex box cover.  I might make a shorter one…


At any rate, it holds lotions, chapstick, nail clippers, and the boys’ toothbrushes.


The leather handle is a lot easier for the boys to open than the metal bin we had used.



I couldn’t think of a better way to attach the strap, so I stapled it to the underside of the cover.  I’m guessing West Elm attached their handle differently.  Haha.


A lower, longer box would be great to hold our remotes, too.  I could also use one in the bathroom for first aid supplies.


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