Monday, July 28, 2014

Small projects

Although I really want to get started on the pergola, I have to teach this week, and so we had to content ourselves with some small projects.  The first one is a door makeover - which I've been wanting to do forever.  This is how our front door looked:
Not so bad, except that we didn't need a peephole, the mailbox slot is unusable, and the kick plate on the bottom has several missing screws, and I hate the color, it gets really hot when the sun beats down on it.  So - other than the fact that it fits the door frame, we kinda hate it.

But what I really hated was the inside.  It still had the old paneling attached to it, and we have the peephole and useless mail slot in it. 

Finally, what I hated the most was that it made this whole area dark.  What I wanted was something that was more attractive and let light in.  But I don't want to buy a new door (too much $$$!) and I don't want the hassle of hanging a new door, drilling new holes for locksets, etc.  So the part where it actually fit was kinda important.

So I was checking out CL (my favorite place to shop) and someone had these great leaded glass inserts for the bargain price of 25 bucks for four.  I only needed one, but I can sell the others and recoup my 25 bucks.  One has a cracked piece of glass, but I might be able to salvage that one for another project.

So what we did was take the door down off the hinges - simple, just pull out the three pins from the three hinges - and bring it into the backyard.  I took off the locksets, the mailbox, kickplate and peephole so I could remove the glued-on paneling.  Yuck. I have removed SO MUCH DRIED contact cement from this house!  That was a messy job and yet somehow, I forgot to take pics. 

After we cleaned off all the glue, we measured the glass insert, and centered it from each side.  We used the measurement in from the sides (9.5 inches from each side), and measured that much down from the top.  Then we added 5/8" all around, and cut the hole out of the door.  It's a hollow core door -- cheapo!--so we had to put in a few supports so we could attach a 2" wide frame inside the hole.  Again, forgot to take pictures!  What a doofus.

Next, we attached mitered 3/4" quarter round on the front with the brad nailer. 
OK, this i have pics of --

You can see the supports in the mailbox slot.

And then we could attach the glass panel.  We ran a bead of silicone along the corner of the "ledge" created by the quarter round, and then lowered the glass panel in.  We added another bead of silicone, and added another layer of mitered quarter round, nailed in.  So we sandwiched the glass in between the layers of quarter round.  Then I caulked all the gaps and painted the door.

I also added a small rectangle over the mail slot.  This placement really gave me pause - if I moved the glass down to cover the hole, it would be oddly centered, so I opted to cover the slot inside and out with a small flat panel. I think I'll get a "welcome" sign or something to put on here, but it actually doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.  So - turquoise for the front, and white for the inside.  I used one of those small sample paint pots from Lowe's -- it's the perfect amount for 3 coats of paint for my door front.

I'm really happy with the amount of light it lets into our entryway.  It's hard to capture the look since the sun comes in so brightly, but I'm very happy with it.

The leaded glass panel we got had beveled glass, and it really sparkles without looking too "fancy" -- the 50s look of the panel goes well with the house.

Because we have a black screen door over the front door, taking a picture of the outside doesn't come out fabulous - but here we go:

 from the inside (so you can see the color accurately!)

and through the screen door.  It was a long one day project - if I hadn't had to remove all that glue with stripper and sanding, it would have only taken a few hours, but it looks great, and I'm really happy with the light it provides in our house!

Another thing I did this weekend was a quick stain job on our temporary kitchen counter tops.  We've got plywood serving as a counter, and they were looking pretty gross.  So I decided to water down some black paint I had leftover from painting my patio furniture, and did a fairly light coat over the plywood. 

I then added a coat of polycrylic, and then a layer of paste wax.  I'm really happy with how nice they look and feel - and they feel more durable to work on.  Maybe they'll last us a  year -- plus, they give me an idea of how black or very dark gray countertops will look.

It only took a couple of hours, and it really looks great.  So those are my two quick projects this week!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Puppy!

One of the things I planned on doing this summer was to get a dog.  Although we were traveling quite a bit in the past few years, I would love to cut back on that.  Also, we would love to get into a more healthy lifestyle, and having a dog to walk several times a day is a great reminder to get out and about.  So we started looking after all the summer work was done.  We went to the animal shelter, and checked out all the possible candidates.  We also looked on Craigslist, but we decided we'd rather go through the shelter, so we knew we were not just putting money into someone's pocket not knowing how the dog's backgrounds were.

Our first few choices were these:
I really had my heart set on the first one above -- so we showed up at 10am the day he was available, met up with him, played with him -- then found out he was actually 2 years old instead of the 6mo old he was listed -- which was a bit of a problem for us since we wanted a younger dog (so we could get them integrated with our cats).  Then they did a cat test, and he failed that pretty clearly -- barking and jumping around.  So we sadly had to pass on him.  Second dog was also 2 years old - same problem, but we actually thought she was too little, since we want a dog that can jump in the car or truck to go places with us.  The third one was already adopted, but we had played with a cute little terrier and had forgotten to take pics of her - her name was Triscuit when we met her --

And she's the one we chose!

Here she is at the shelter, pretty shaggy but happy!

We brought her home, and took her shopping -- she got lots of fun toys and a nice new crate and bed: (she was really well behaved at the store!)

We decided to call her Luna.

She's a happy little dog!

The cats are not impressed:

But they will get used to her.  Today, she got her coat clipped and she looks a little less shaggy:

She's got a few habits we need to work on - she likes to chew, so we have to be sure to give her chew toys and keep her busy, and she also wants to bark a little when the front door is open and she can see out the screen, but she is responding really well to commands.  Dale's a great animal trainer, so I know she'll have her manners in place soon.  We're really glad to welcome her into our family!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Day 12 - Roadside attractions!

We found a great site to locate kitschy roadside attractions, and decided to map a bunch of fun photo ops since our original plan (which was to tour some interesting architectural sites: Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen and Mies Van Der Rohe's Farnsworth House) couldn't work out for us due to travel times.  It was also our one really rainy day, and so as we drove from Minneapolis towards Wisconsin, we stopped at some fun roadside sites.

We also saw a cool giant spam can we wanted to take a picture of, but it was inside the fence at the Hormel processing plant.  We drove in and set up our camera, but a security guard came out and chased us off.  So sadly, we missed that opportunity!

Tomorrow is our final day of this fun trip -- we have a few more sites to hit on the way home, but it'll be good to get back to our normal, relaxed pace!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Day 11 - Judy Garland Musuem and the beginning of our tour of American Kitsch

We arrived in Grand Rapids, MN to view the Judy Garland home and museum.   This destination was Eric's choice, the Wizard of Oz is his favorite movie and Judy Garland is one of his very favorite celebrities (along with Liza Minnelli and Madonna).  The home was great - restored to it's original state (it had been moved from another site), and the memorabilia was fun.

and of course, we saw this photo op and knew we couldn't pass it up!

Minnesota is also famous for it's Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox roadside attractions, and this became our theme for the next part of our trip:

I downloaded an app called TimerCam and we can set the camera for about a 15 second timer so we can all get into place and ready - it makes a loud beep on the last 3 seconds.  We started getting pretty invested in making our pics look even more fabulous!

And also: we have been collecting these flattened pennies with the stamping of local sites, and we kept that up for this trip.  Here are some of our pennies from this trip:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Day 10 - Mount Rushmore

I kind of went into this day thinking Mt. Rushmore would be a quick visit - I mean, what is there to do but look at 4 heads carved into a mountain?  And on first viewing (the night before), I also have to say I was a little surprised at the size -- as Herbert said, "'s a little more petite than I expected."  I don't know what I was thinking - I guess I expected HUGE, but after spending the better part of a day going on a hike, checking out the displays and museums, I really enjoyed this experience.

This was interesting - the original sculpture plan was to have torsos in addition to the portraits, but faults in the granite made this unworkable.

After taking off from Mt. Rushmore, we had a super long drive to our next destination - the Judy Garland Museum (for Eric!).  We decided to drive through the night so we wouldn't kill ourselves with either one 11 hour drive or waste time with two long days of driving.  We did wake up so we could take our usual state portraits -- and you can tell we were a bit ridiculous at 3 am!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Day 9 - Cody, Wyoming and the trip to Mt. Rushmore

We woke up early this morning and decided to have breakfast at the historic Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming.  The Irma Hotel is Buffalo Bill's favorite hotel, what he called "the sweetest hotel."  We had a nice breakfast buffet, then did a tour of the hotel. 

I loved this semi-creepy elk painting hanging in the stairway.

After that, we had a long trek to our next destination, Mt. Rushmore.  We drove through a lot of rainy weather (the first of our trip), and ran into a hailstorm just after we crossed the South Dakota state line.

We got to Mt. Rushmore around 6:30 pm, but it was too chilly to explore, so we're leaving it until morning.  We had to buy sweatshirts to wear because the wind was really making it hard to enjoy our view.  This is the "outtake" view of our group selfie (Dale was in the car, too cold and sleepy to stay out long), because although Herbert was pointing to the monument, the disembodied finger looks a little......odd.
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