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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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    Installing the front 10 by 5.5 foot window is the hardest recent project. Especially because I lack man strength. While putting in the big, heavy panel, a neighbor thanked us for all the work we've been doing and said it looks great. Totally redeeming. We've got a great giveaway with @minted on the blog right now. Hop over to get more details and enter. Our bathroom is in the @apartmenttherapy Room for Color contest. If you can spare a minute, we'd appreciate your vote. ūüėÄ

Lego My Legos

How about a riddle? ¬†What is small, has sharp edges, hurts when stepped on, but kids love to play with? ¬†I suppose many toys fall into this category, but around our house, the answer is Legos. ¬†Always Legos. ¬†In the past year or so, both boys have jumped on the Lego train, much like the Dauntless from Divergent. ¬†Can’t say I blame them. ¬†Legos encourage creativity and keep kids entertained for hours. ¬†Now that we’ve established a storage and organization system, we’re all happy.

A quick internet search will show hundreds of Lego storage systems: sorted by color, size, etc., but this is what works for us. ¬†It’s super involved and highly advanced. ¬†Be¬†warned.

One drawer in the entertainment center holds all things Lego.  Four shoe sized plastic bins hold extra pieces as well as built kits.

Lego-Organization-in-DrawerSeparating smaller pieces and minifigs into clear lidded plastic containers has saved us all much hassle.  I found these in the Target dollar spot last year.  More often than not, the big bin of Legos got dumped and spread all over the floor to find a specific piece.  For the boys, this was annoying to have to dig through the pile.  I was sick of having a mess on my floor, stepping on tiny daggers.


Want Kai, he’s right there, with the rest of the Nijago crew. ¬†Probably battling neighboring Nindroids while we’re asleep.


Need a connector piece?  Check in the connector compartment.  To further organize small pieces, I separated into four groups.  Connectors, single small pieces, single and special double bricks, and minifig accessories.


Instruction booklets are kept in reach in a metal tin.  Close by, but not in with the rest to get lost or pages pulled out.


I think it would be cute to get one larger clear container to display stored guys, standing upright.

They can keep it in their room, but when they’re not playing, they can see their collection. ¬†If (more likely, when) their collection grows, further organizing smaller parts in a hinged divider box could work really well, too.

Along with the large coffee table for building, this simple system has made Lego life more enjoyable.  Most importantly, this sorting makes sense to the boys.

Construction Chic

Bing, bang, boom, we’ve got a door in our bedroom. ¬†Wow, that sounds very Dr. Seuss. ¬†I guess that’s bound to happen when I’m around little people all day.


As long as we’ve got half-finished projects, I’m going to refer to it as ‘construction chic.’ ¬†As in, “Oooh la la, look at those fancy exposed shims! ¬†It’s tres construction chic.” ¬†Anyway, I’m almost certain I’ve mentioned our plan to replace the old window with a sliding door.


These old windows were on their last leg.  Barely able to open, fogged up, and peeling.


Wanting to take full advantage of the best views in the house, we settled on a sliding patio door and narrow balcony combo. ¬†In my dream world, French doors, but the space doesn’t allow for a door swing. ¬†From hole in the wall:


Onto a framed in hole in the wall:


Finally to a full door.


Adding 4 inches of insulation to the exterior bumps out every window and door. ¬†Windows get deeper sills, and doors, well, they get transition strips. ¬†Filling the gap isn’t difficult. ¬†I’ll have to stain and seal a strip of oak that we can nail in place.


Totally worth it to be able to see mountains while still laying in bed.  Even if it has been a sort of hazy.


As a trade-off, we obviously have less privacy. ¬†In terms of window coverings, I think I’ll treat the door just as I would a window. ¬†Functional floor length curtains are my favorite. ¬†Blinds are annoying to me; can’t stand the cords.


Outside, things are looking equally ‘construction chic’ despite the sun making the painted gray look primer beige.


The ladder scaffolding standing in for the balcony is stunning. ¬†You know what else looks hot? ¬†Four different materials in this section of the front. ¬†Keepin’ it classy, Montana.


Along the bottom, Ben hung a rim joist, which the rest of the 3 foot deep balcony will extend from. ¬†Above that, a gap for the decking boards and a small space before the siding starts. ¬†Next step, caulking seams¬†and then¬†paint. ¬†Replacing the bathroom window (the one between the two doors) and hanging steel must happen before we can build the balcony. ¬†Until then, we’ve got the door locked and a tension rod up top so little humans can’t fall out.


With the front sections so broken up, it’s easier to focus on and get one chunk done at a time. ¬†Compared to the back and garage sides, this feels quick. ¬†At least to me. ¬†I’m only responsible for fetching tools and holding pieces when necessary.

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?


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