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Posts from December,2011

New Year’s Blog-olutions

Posted by on December 31st, 2011

I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve!  I can still remember starting this blog back in July and wondering if we’d keep it up.  So far so good!  If you haven’t noticed, we haven’t been blogging as regularly as we were back before the holidays… not because we’re closing up shop but because we’ve been super busy working on the house and spending time with our daughter… typical holiday stuff.  Once we get back in the rat race next week, things will return to our normal ~3 posts a week.  For now, we’re enjoying our brief tech-disconnect.

This week, we thought it would be fun to write a brief list of our new year’s resolutions for  our blog.

1.  Improve the look and layout of our blog.  Right now, we’re rocking WordPress’s basic Twenty Eleven theme.  I’m SOO sick of how bland our site is.  Even the banner stinks!  I threw that photo in last July as a temporary pic and we haven’t changed it yet!! Yikes!  I’d like to do some basic functional improvements.  We spent most of our blog related time trying to write quality posts, so I’m not too too upset about our appearance, but it definitely needs an upgrade.  I’ll be spending the next few weeks trying to read up on theme design and improvement.

2.  Blog when there’s something to write about and not because we haven’t done one in a couple days.  This one I’m definitely guilty of and not so much Lisa.  Although, if I let Lisa do ALL the posts, we’d be averaging one post a month!  haha!  I often feel like I need to pop out posts before we may be ready.  I’m going to try to ease up on that and only write one when we have the bones of a good post.  I don’t want any fluff here!

3.  Blog more about our plans.  This is going to start sounding like a therapy session real soon here because all of these pet peeves I have are with myself.  I prefer to blog about projects in action, mostly because they have photos and concrete progress worth writing about.  However, I need to start blogging about our plans for projects.  Lisa and I spend a good deal of time discussing and deliberating our ideas and don’t say much about it.  We started to change that some with our Grand Plans post, but we need to do this more often.  After all, planning is the hardest part of any project.

4.  More interaction with our readers and our peers.  We love reading our fellow bloggers’ posts.  This year we’re going to try to get more involved so to speak and maybe try to do a couple guest posts or even have some people guest post here

5.  More videos.  We had such a great time with our first video, that we’re going to try to do them more often.  Room tours, house tours… This will be awesome!!

Thanks for reading this year!!  Hope you enjoyed reading our posts as much as we loved writing them!  Have a happy and blessed new year!

Here’s a sneak peek at what we have coming your way this week…

Posted in Blogging,Holiday. Tagged in ,

Our Favorite Christmas Songs – Part Two

Posted by on December 26th, 2011

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!  Lisa and I are mostly kicking it old school in our pajamas most of the week.  We’re not trying to go too crazy with the upgrades around here, but we have been getting quite a lot of our grand plan done and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.

BUT, for now it’s my turn to list my favorite Christmas songs.  Especially since we’re still listening to ‘em around the clock.  On Wednesday, Lisa listed her’s.  I tried writing this post late last week, but I just too tired from all the shopping and gorging myself with holiday food. So here goes..

1.  Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles

John:  I have to say, I’m totally relieved that this song is sung by the Eagles and not just Don Henley.  I was worried that my musical interests are something out of a 1980′s VH1 special.

Lisa:  I like this song.  Nothing smart to say about it.

2.  That Spirit of Christmas – Ray Charles

John:  Best song from the greatest Christmas movie ever made.

Lisa:  I’m pretty sure when James Caan asks Buddy the Elf to sing in his office is the best song from the greatest Christmas movie ever.

John:  There is no way Will Farrell sings a better Christmas song than Ray Charles.  Not possible.

Lisa:  I’ll give you that.  But Elf is still the best movie ever.

3.  Blue Christmas – Elvis

Lisa: Whoa!  I’m shocked.  Almost speechless.

John:  Almost.

Lisa:  Awesome song by and awesome-est singer.

 

4.  Oh Holy Night – Josh Groban

Lisa:  Again, a very nice pick, I’m impressed.

John:  Excellent song.  Nothing really funny here. Wait, why are you impressed?  What kind of Christmas music did you think I listen to?

Lisa:  I dunno… Mariah Carey?

5.  All I Want for Christmas – Mariah Carey

John:  Nah, just kidding.  No way!

5.  Burl Ives – Holly Jolly Christmas

John:  A timeless classic.

Lisa:  I like it too!  I’m impressed with your picks.

John:  While I’m mildly offended that you think I have terrible taste, I’m happy that we agree.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite Christmas songs?  Are you still listening to them even though we’re past Christmas?

 

Posted in Holiday,Videos,Winter Stuff. Tagged in ,, ,

Our Favorite Christmas Songs – Part One

Posted by on December 21st, 2011

Well kiddos it’s that time again… for John and I to share our my favorite Christmas songs with the world!  This list is going to be lengthy, so we are going to split this post into two posts.

Lisa’s Top Christmas Songs:

1. Neil Diamond – Joy to the World

Lisa: This is one of my favorite songs, I probably picked this as numero uno since it’s sung by one of my faves, Neil Diamond.  I really like the lyrics, and Neil’s spin on the tradition song, and the gospel singers in the background.  I mean if this song doesn’t make you smile by the end.. .then you are a scrooge. *smiling is my favorite*

John: I would like to add that you listen to this song all year long and by Thanksgiving I’m about done with it.  At least it’s not in your car anymore.

Lisa: Actually, it is in my car, I just put it in yesterday.  You can listen on the 2 plus hour car ride on Christmas!

2. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Lisa: Awesome song.  I like the beat and the clearly 80s feel to it!

John: You’re one of seven people in this country who actually know who sings this song.

Lisa: You’re an angry elf.

3. Up on the House Top

Lisa: This song is great! I really started liking this song in high school when we would sing this in choir and made all these really sweet dance moves to go along with the lyrics.

John: Number one, if you can do these dance moves on the couch, they aren’t sweet. Number two, the kids in this song get terrible toys.  One of the kids gets a whip.  In 2011 that’s called poor parenting.  How about a knife that shivs while we’re at it.

Lisa:  That’s what’s great about the song!!!  Finally we agree on a song!

John: And who wants a whip before Indiana Jones made it cool?  This song is from like 1962 AND I can’t believe I have to tell you how to spell “Indiana” because you never saw those movies.

Lisa: One, this song is like from the 50s and two, I think we just figured out our next “favorites” list – movies you like that I haven’t seen!

4. Dominick the Donkey

Lisa: Awesome song because it’s about an ITALIAN Christmas donkey who speaks Italian and climbs the hills of Italy – what more could you want from a Christmas song?

John: I never heard this song until I started dating you and I agree it’s an awesome song.  It makes me want to grow a serious mustache.  That youtube video was directed by Scorsese… Joey Scorsese.

Lisa:  You can’t even grow a non-serious mustache if you tried.  Back to the song. La la la la la.

John: I’m going to write the Polish version and it will be called “Stanislaw Worcheski the Buttered Polish Pierogie”

5.The Hanukkah Song – Adam Sandler

Lisa: Adam Sandler is a genius! I don’t know who all the people mention in the original version of this song… but it’s awesome! Also, Neil Diamond did a version of this song as well and it’s great!!

John: I don’t have anything to say about this song.  Technically, this isn’t a Christmas song, but it’s still a great holiday song.

My honorable mentions (in no particular order):

6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springstein

Lisa: I’m not a huge fan of the Boss, but I really enjoy his take on this song.

John: Neither am I, but legally that has to change since we moved to Jersey – it’s required by state law.

Lisa: That seems fair.

7. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Lisa: I’m pretty sure I listened to this song about a million times one Christmas when I was little.  I couldn’t get enough of it!!!

John: I have never heard this song before. Ever. And I never hope to again.

Lisa: the song doesn’t like you either.

 

I have a lot more songs I want to share with you later in the week because the truth is I love ALL Christmas songs and it is so hard to pick my favorites! Plus, I think John wants to pick some too (BOO!).  So stop by later.

Obviously John and I don’t see eye to eye on Christmas music.  What are your thoughts? Are my picks really that weird? Is there a song (or album) you and your family have to listen to each year?

Posted in Favorites,Holiday,Winter Stuff. Tagged in ,, ,

Our First Video

Posted by on December 19th, 2011

The last week or so has been crazy busy.  On top of the regular Christmas run-around, Lisa and I have been furiously busy with our grand plans; add to that a last-minute work trip to San Diego.  So bear with us as we try to squeeze in a couple quality posts between now and Christmas!!

This past weekend, we were able to finish painting our added trim and finally started painting the beige!!  Not gonna lie, it looks awesome!  Most importantly, Lisa LOVES it.  Pheww!  If she’s happy = I’m happy.

First the trim:  after two coats of semi-gloss paint on the actual trim piece and three coats of paint on the wall between the trim and the crown molding, it looks pretty decent.  The in-between part is still not quite as glossy as the wood, so we may revisit this once all the beige is on and maybe UP the glossy level for that small section.  TBD.

Now for the beige.  We prepped and painted the morning room and we’re really happy with everything…. the level of shade, the paint quality, the overall look, you name it!  Although, I definitely could have done a cleaner job cutting in the ceiling.  I used a crappy brush and now I’m going to go back and clean it up with my Purdy brush later this week.  Oh well!

Here’s a photo of that room before we painted it.

Even more fun than painting is the new time lapse video we shot!! I setup the camera and recorded me painting the morning room from painter’s tape to finish!  Check it out below.  I’m no Steven Spielberg, but it was a lot of fun to shoot.  See if you can catch Lisa goofing off!!  If you blink, you miss it!

Pretty cool ay?  Later this week, we’ll have the after photos from the morning room.  All I have right now is the photos from the movie.

Plus, before Christmas… Lisa and I are listing our favorite Christmas songs!  Not guaranteed to be free from Elf quotes, but I’ll try to keep them at a minimum. Anyone else doing any holiday home improvements?

Posted in Staining and Painting,Videos. Tagged in ,, , ,

Merry Christmas …. Happy Holidays

Posted by on December 14th, 2011

If you’re a child of the 90′s like me … this title may remind you of the best boy band ever  – *NSYNC!  Don’t worry, I won’t go on any more about the awesomeness that was (and still is) *NSYNC.  This post is really about decorating our home for the holidays.

Ever since our first Christmas together, I have been decorating with snowmen, snowflakes, blue, and silver.  This was the first year I am starting to stray a little from this theme, but not much.

Our decorated tree – no tree topper yet! I am still searching for one.  This tree has so many lights it can be seen from space…

Our mantle… I had to move all the pictures from the mantle since the garland takes up so much space.  Maybe one day I will get around to fixing a picture permanently to the wall..

Cute tinsel reindeer I picked up this year at Michael’s.

Our stockings were hung by the chimney, with care….

Beaded wreath on the mirror (obviously)

Remember all the plate wall posts? Here’s one plate decorated with jingle bells. I attached the bells using a ornament hanger.

Mirror in the dinning room.  I love these snowflakes… I wish I remember where I purchased them so I could pick up a few more.

Tinsel tree undecorated and unlit.  This was supposed to be temporary but looks like it’s staying this year!

White tinsel tree in the baby’s room!!

I really have some more decorating ideas for the house but I think I will wait until next year.

I cannot believe Christmas will be here so soon!  I really should stop decorating and go out and finish my shopping.  I started well before Black Friday and am still not done.  You know, I have all the random side gifts to purchase yet. Have you finished your holiday shopping yet?

Posted in Holiday,Home Decor,Winter Stuff. Tagged in ,,

Such Great Heights

Posted by on December 12th, 2011

I hate hiring contractors.  Ok, wait.  I don’t hate hiring contractors.  I hate hiring contractors for jobs that I could do myself.  That I definitely hate.  But, there is one thing that I hate more than that: heights.  I hate heights.  Not. a. fan.  I’m not so terrified that I can’t go up elevators or anything crazy.  After all, I did manage to build our shed myself and that required me to get onto the roof on multiple occasions.  But, I did nearly have a heart attack on the Space Needle in Seattle a few years ago and left Lisa alone up top to eat her lunch alone while I “recuperated” on the ground floor.

Now, there’s no space needle in our home.  But there is a two story vestibule.

So what?  Well, it wouldn’t be an issue except for the fact that we’re installing trim below our crown molding and we have a ton of painting planned.  So, yesterday, I brought in my extension ladder out to attempt to scale the wall and start adding the trim.

After extending the ladder up the wall and coloring it with the ladder’s black plastic feet, I climbed up.  No go.  There is no way I’m going to be able to install a piece of molding, let alone paint it.  Not happening.  It’s too difficult with a ladder.  Now, I could do this with a scaffold system, but that’s overkill.  Alas, we’re just going to hire someone.  At least it will be someone else up that ladder.

We’ve also decided to scrap the molding in the vestibule and just leave it in the dining room and the living room.  After all, these two rooms are the most formal rooms in the house, and the molding adds some elegance there that we don’t need in the entry anyway.

So, the rest of the day we puttied and caulked the trim we had already installed.

Here’s how I prepped the trim for painting:

1.  I went around all the trim and looked for all the nails that hadn’t been sunk below the surface of the wood and used a setter and knocked them down.

2. Then I used some white wood filler and filled all the nail holes.  I just apply it with my fingers and rub the putty until it’s basically flush down with the wood.  A deep hole may require two treatments because as the putty dries it contracts.  Oh, and use the white putty if you have white trim.  The wood colored stuff needs more coats of paint to hide.

3. Once all the holes are puttied, I apply the painter’s caulk.  Now, the best interior caulk contains both latex and silicone.  By best, I mean least likely to split or crack.  You don’t want to have to do this again.  I just cut the tip to a small size and spread it out with my finger.

4. When it’s all done. It will just need a little bit of light sanding before you paint it.  I’ll be painting these trim pieces this week.

So, I know I’m not the only one that’s had a major phobia keep them from getting some home improvement projects done. So spill the beans. What have you skipped or handed off to a contractor?! Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting,Trim. Tagged in ,,

Our Favorite Christmas Movies

Posted by on December 8th, 2011

Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?  ‘Tis the season for Christmas movies!  Every year about this time Lisa and I love to watch our favorite holiday films.  A lot of them we both enjoy, but some of them we don’t see eye to eye on… at all.  Here is a list of our favorite Christmas movies…

1.  Elf

John:  So this is one we both agree on, although Lisa likes this one a lot more than me.  I’m about sick of watching it by Labor Day.

Lisa:  I painted a picture of a butterfly.

John:  Whenever this movie gets mentioned, all you do is quote it.

Lisa:  He’s an angry elf.

John:  I’m 5’8″, I’m not an elf.

Lisa:  Does Santa know you left the workshop?

                                                           John: (eyeroll)

2.  A Christmas Story

John:  This is my favorite Christmas film.  They used to play this movie all day on TBS when I was in high school.  Classic movie.  I must’ve seen it 200 hundred times.

Lisa:  This movie stinks.

John:  I’d like to point out that you just saw this movie for the first time last year, I’m pretty sure you were living under a rock.

Lisa:  I don’t know, I never de-clawed kittens before.

John:  I think I see where this is going…

3.  National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Lisa:  I am personally not a fan of this movie, although some regard this as a Christmas classic.

John:  How can you not enjoy Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid in their prime?

Lisa:  Candy, Candy Canes and Syrup.

John:  You surprised to see us, Clark?  Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.

Lisa:  I’m sorry that I ruined your lives and crammed eleven cookies in the VCR.

4.  Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Lisa:  This is a Christmas classic.  Good news, I saw a dog today.

John:  We’re not doing a Christmas movie post ever again.

Lisa:  Does someone need a hug?

John:  I liked this movie for about five minutes when I was eight.

Lisa:  It’s really, really, cute and I have nothing bad to say about it because I really like it.

 

5.  Home Alone

John:  Funny movie, but I don’t think of this one as a Christmas movie, but I guess it is.

Lisa:  It’s really entertaining.  It has some great Christmas music.

John:  One day, I’m probably going to booby-trap the house like Kevin McAllister did… and you’re my Joe Pesci.

Lisa:  That means the dog is Daniel Stern.

John:  This is just like Santa’s workshop, only it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to kill me.

*All images courtesy of wikipedia.org

So that was painful.  Do you like the same Christmas movies as us?  Of course you do.  Do you have any of your own favorites you watch every Christmas?

 

Posted in Favorites,Holiday. Tagged in ,, ,

How to Make Your Crown Molding Look Bigger

Posted by on December 6th, 2011

Part of our “Grand Plan” is to improve the look of our crown molding.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no problem with our current trim whatsoever!  When we were selecting the options for our home build, there were some upgrades we passed on because we thought it would be a better value if we just did it ourselves at a later date.  You know, things we could live without if it meant investing the money into something we REALLY wanted.  Another one of those savings came by skipping out on granite countertops.

So, what kind of crown molding improvement am I talking about?  A very basic upgrade.  Let me show you what I’m talking about…

Can you see it?  I added a small trim about 2″ below the crown molding.  Now, it’s not caulked or painted yet because we’re still working on it.  When it’s all done, even the space between the crown molding and the bottom trim will be painted semi-gloss.  It gives an effect as if the crown molding is much larger.  Should be pretty sweet!

Here’s how to make your crown molding look bigger:

1.  I selected my trim.  I used a very inexpensive pre-primed piece.  In the photo below, you can see the profile of the trim.  I bought it at Lowes.

2.  Next, I measured 2″ down from the bottom of the crown molding and marked the wall with a pencil.  You could use whatever distance you’d like.  Our builder used 4″-5″ for this space.  We thought 2″ looked the best for us.  In this application, you don’t need to use a level, since we want the new trim to track the crown molding.  Any variation in the distance between the crown and the new piece will make it look uneven.

3.  Next I cut my trim.  I followed the same basic procedure that I used to install my chair rail molding.  So, I left my right side edge flat and butted it against the wall.  Since my trim pieces are 8′ long, much shorter than the length of the wall, I had to join two pieces of trim.  The left side of the first trim piece was cut on a 45 degree angle.  You can see the end of that first piece in the photo below.  I glued the piece and installed it with my nail gun.

4.  My next piece had the same cut as the first piece so they would overlap, see the photo below.  The other end I just butted into the wall.  The first cut on the next wall will need a coped joint, which I also discussed in the chair rail install post.

So that’s basically it.  You just continue this around the room.  We still have a couple rooms to finish yet, but we can’t wait to see what this looks like painted.

Do you have any cheap tricks to improve the look of molding? 

Posted in DIY Projects,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Our Grand Plans

Posted by on December 5th, 2011

This holiday season, between over eating and last minute gift shopping, Lisa and I are doing some pretty major upgrades around here.  A couple of them we’ve already posted about and you’ve probably already seen, but we thought we should clue you in on the big picture.  Here’s a list of everything we’re planning…

1.  Add chair rail molding to vestibule (how-to post here and odd angles post here)
2.  Enhancing our crown molding (this week)
3.  Caulking and filling nail holes
4.  Painting, painting, painting
5.  Adding hardwood floors to our living room and family room

We’re looking to do these projects to increase the value of our home, to improve the general look of the interior and because we really just have always wanted to do these upgrades since we moved in.  Among all these projects, of course, we’ll be showing you our holiday decorations and whatever else comes up

Most of the molding projects are nearly done, we’ll be showing the crown molding upgrade tomorrow.

The floors will be particularly challenging.  We have hardwood in the rooms adjoining the living room and the family room already and we want to tie the new floor into the old to make it look like it was always there.  That means ripping out some of the old hardwood.  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Well, you’ll see soon enough.

Here’s a before view of our family room as of a couple weeks ago (it’s now in full Christmas mode…

and our living room…

So stick around and follow us via email (that box on the left) so you don’t miss a thing! 

Oh, and don’t mind those non functional tabs there on the left, we’re working on some functional upgrades.

Are you planning on any upgrades this holiday season?

Posted in Home Decor,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Christmas Tree Flashback

Posted by on December 2nd, 2011

Hey there! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Now that it is December, I thought I would share some Christmas photos from a few years back.

John and I went to Christmas tree farm where we could cut our own tree.

.. and afterwards I got to roast marshmallows!!

We brought the tree home…

And after hours of decorating — the completed tree!

It was a great tree.  So great that I left it up until February!!

We also decorated our mantle.

It’s amazing how many of the decorations I still have.  I will post photos of my decorating this year next week.

Hope you have a great weekend!!

Posted in Holiday. Tagged in ,,