Monday, February 25, 2013

Permits and Hermits

I've got great news.

We finally got building permits!! Holla!

We decided we ought to celebrate so we had a little shindig on Saturday night. A couple good friends came over and we had elk carne asada, stuffed poblanos and margaritas.  And margaritas. Oh we also had some margaritas.

That being said, we didn't do any house projects or wedding planning this weekend. Zip. Instead, we spent Saturday scrubbing 16202 from top to bottom and making food for our friends. Then on Sunday, Jaydee nursed his cold while I nursed a shame hangover. The headache and grumbly belly don't bother me... it's the memories of my Circle of Life Sing-Along that plague me the morning after. Bruce and Trent partied a bit too hard too.

So we were hermits all day yesterday. We cozy-ed up on the couch and nearly polished off the entire season of House of Cards. Highly recommend it.

I promise I'll get back to more interesting posts just as soon as the Lion King theme stops haunting me.

Ay! Tatimetchiway tada hee tada ho wen e oooo...."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sprucin' Up the Fireplace

The old fireplace at 16202 was in need of some sprucin' up. Just a little bit.

Originally, we had marked the fireplace pretty high on the priority list for replacement. We thought, a fireplace? How expensive could it be? We did some cursory Google searching and found stuff like this:

We thought $239.. that ain't no thang! Wehehell... we quickly learned how to read these tricky fireplace websites. This particular posting is listing the screen thingy at the top and bottom of the fireplace.

The actual price for a a whole replacement gas, direct vent, fireplace was more like:

Yeah, wasn't gonna happen. Luckily, I live with Jaydee and he can fix most things. Except not the old fireplace... but the good news is he got it looking like it'd work again.

Pretty impressive, huh? Who needs a working fireplace anway? Especially when we have Abby Normal (stay tuned for your introduction to Abby the Nest, she's great).

Today, I decided to put the final touches on the for-looks-only fireplace. Jaydee had some other plans for the day. Since we recently got a fancy new grill, Jaydee and Toby decided to transform the old broken grill that came with the house into a smoker.

See the shiny new grill in the background?!

While the boys were out smokin' pig butt, I stripped that stylin' gold trim off the old fireplace. Ok ok, I actually had to ask Jaydee to come inside real quick and help pull the gold pieces off... the screws were real old and apparently I'm a bit drill-challenged.

I found a good spot on the side of the house and set to work with a can of spray paint. When I was walking out the door, Jaydee shouted a couple of reminders - "Put the can of paint in warm water. Cold paint doesn't go on as smooth." "Take your finger off the button after each swipe!" "Lots of light coats. Stay at least 8" away." "Don't spray paint the cars, ok?" All great tips and after the shelf staining fiasco I was determined to make this paining experience to go over smoothly (eh um, no pun intended).

I used Valspar Metallic spray paint. It's easy (and I like that) because you literally just wipe the victim down, then spray. No scuffing up the surface, no primer, no fuss.

Four coats of paint and one night of drying later, we had silver. BAM! Check it out. Not a bad fireplace makeover, eh?

P.S. The pork butt was delicious.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blinded by the light

... Revved up like deuce another runner in the night...  Now you'll have some Manfred Mann to run through your head all day. You're welcome.

Anywho, as I was saying... Blinded by the light. We finally put blinds up at 16202. It's a bit sad that the neighbors won't be able to watch TV with us in the evenings any more, but I trust they'll get over it.

Buying blinds was a huge deal (who knew?!). First off - those bad boys are expensive! Then, there's all these options... horizontal, vertical, roman, cellular, vinyl, natural, see-through, edible...  Luckily, I work for a great big company that also owns a "Window Fashion" company (really... window fashion?). We were able to score blinds for the whole already-built part of the house for 60% off retail. Can I get a yee haw? We also saved a couple of hundred dollars by going with composite blinds instead of the natural wood. Composite was key. The Faux Wood blinds look awfaux (hee hee hee) and the Natural Wood Blinds are very expensive and aren't ideal for the dewy NW.

After settling on a style - horizontal, composite, wood blinds with rope pulls on the left - we set to measuring. You'll be glad to hear we followed the old rule Measure twice, cut once. I went through the house and carefully measured each window. Then Jaydee went back through and re-measured each one (just so you know, the numbers were the same - it's not my first rodeo with a tape measure).  We placed the order and then two weeks later we came home to this:

Poor UPS man - he was probably blind-sided by this whoppin' delivery.

We got out the utility knives and got to unpacking. You like our nice, tidy living room? We figure we better use this time to get the messy out of our systems.

We were pretty excited to get this project done. Looking out at our caution tape deck was getting a bit old and we kept forgetting that it wasn't okay to walk around in our skivvies, so we got to work right away. A few short hours, one melt-down (Jaydee stepped on top of the bed with his nasty toe-shoes on after having just come back from a run so I threw a little temper tantrum and made him take a shower break), and five windows later we had blinds! Woo hoo!

What you see here is Fiance experiencing the post-blind installation lull. It happens to the best of us. 

16202 already looks 23 times more homey. We added a couple of dead heads to make it feel even more like home. Nothing says "relax" like a goat on the wall.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Making a Call of Duty Player Shelf

Remember that giant brick wall in the middle of the house? 

We decided it was the prime spot to put the TV. Jaydee got a masonry bit for his drill and went to work. A few minutes later we were set for prime viewing of the new season of Walking Dead. The only problem was where to put all those TV gadgets like the prized Call of Duty player, the DVR and the Apple TV? Since the TV is right over the fireplace, there weren't many options for storage or cable hiding. 

We sat back and considered the situation. Ah ha! We realized what we needed was a crappy shelf that we could cut up to fit over the little brick ledge. We started looking around at our left-over-from-college Ikea shelves for candidates to take to the blade. Unfortunately, most of our left over furniture was a couple notches past too rickety for modification. Soooo Jaydee rolled up his sleeves and built one himself. 

Best part about a custom-made shelf?  It's custom. After construction, we slid the shelf into place and in perfect harmony declared "Liiiiiike a glove!"

Jaydee started with two 6' pieces of oak and three 48" pieces of pine. After a good many cuts, glues and screws, we were in business. Next step was aesthetics. We stained then used veneer strips for the edges. The veneer strips were awesome. You just slap em on there, iron, run a rolling pin along the strip and presto! They're made with real wood so they take stain just like the rest of the shelf.

We learned some valuable lessons about staining during this project. We started out using brushes... mistake. We couldn't figure out why the stain looked all drippy and bubbly. A couple nights later we were watching Rehab Addict on DIY Network and watched that adorable little blonde lady refinish an old fireplace and lo and behold she rubbed the stain on with rag not a brush. Whomp whomp whomp.... Mystery solved. We did a bit of sanding and gave it another shot. MUCH BETTER.

Moral of the story? Read directions.

After we had the shelf all stained and assembled, Jaydee took a circle saw to it and made perfect little holes all along the back and between each shelf to tidy up the 33,243 cables that connect to the TV. The last step will be to figure out what do with the cables in between the shelf and the TV... more on that later.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Save da Date

You know what's great about getting married? All the crafts that you suddenly have a reason to do. I had a lot of fun making our Save the Dates and I gotta say, I think they turned out mighty nice.

Pretty snazzy, huh?

Here's how this all went down.

Step 1. Lots of Googling and Etsying . I collected a bunch of inspiration in my awesome Outline App then showed Fiance for his opinions (Remember? I really hate making decisions by myself...)

Our favorite was the bookmark Save the Date. Maybe it's the gray sky background - I just love this one. Then of course the buck and doe tokens. Awesome.

Step 2. Learn how to make things look old in Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator used to be scary but then I learned that whenever you need to do something new, all ya gotta do is Google it. I literally Googled "Make stuff look old in AI" - this is what I got:


Step 3: Find a picture taker. Luckily we have a friend with some serious photo snappin' skills. So we bribed him with a bottle of wine.

Step 4: Create Save the Date, then show Fiance for approval. Fiance notices that the word "and" is off-center by two millimeters.

Step 5: Revise. Show to Fiance for approval. Fiance notices third line is .023 pixels thinner than the first two lines.

Step 6: Revise. Show to Fiance for approval. Fiance notices 23 other tiny things that only robots can see.

Step 7: Revise. Choose NOT to show to Fiance this time around.

Step 8: find a printer. I <3 A&A  printing.


Step 9: Send 'em off!


My favorite part is the little "Jaydee & Dani" seal. In fact, I thought that seal was so dang cool I got it made into a rubber stamp! I know, I know... maybe that was a bit overboard. But the thing is, if I didn't get a stamp I probably would've squandered the $13 it cost me on something way less cool. So there we go.

I used I just uploaded a JPEG copy of the seal, paid $10 plus shipping, waited about a week, and viola! I've already used this fancy doodad for two more projects. 1) Bridesmaid request poem stationary and 2) Thank you note (more to come on this exploit later).

I plan to make many more stamps in the future. This is genius.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Asking for Bridesmaids

So far, the best part about planning a wedding was asking my six best friends to be bridesmaids. I really love my friends so I wanted to do something a wee bit special. Like have an airplane fly by with a banner and then exactly 30 seconds later have a singing quartet approach their front doors and serenade each of them with a unique song. But it turns out that was a bit tough to coordinate. So instead... I just sent them a box with some crap in it.

Allow to me to explain.
  • Some fabric swatches to help guide the dress pickin'
  • A horse shoe, because let's face it, I'm pretty damn lucky. I gotta share this wealth. 
  • A fancy box of celebration matches to ::eh um:: celebrate a great match.
  • Calendar strip with a big fat circle around 09-14-2013
  • A personalized poem on hand made Dani-and-Jaydee-Are-Gettin'-Hitched stationary
Fabric sample shopping was intense. I accidentally stumbled upon the best fabric shop in the universe. Shelves and shelves and shelves of fabric, piles on the floor, baskets brimming with remnants... fabric EVERYWHERE. It was great. I spent about two hours in the little shop, carefully examining each and every ream to pick the best greenish, yellowish, brownish, off-whiteish, maybe a little orangish fabric samples I could find.

 In retrospect, I maybe should have picked my wedding colors before going to the store. All the same, It was fantastic. I can't wait for reason to have to go back to that place. 

I finally made it home to show Fiance my booty (People, people! I mean the treasure booty. Geez...) He wasn't as excited as me. He looked at each carefully chosen square, one at a time. Then he sighs and says, "There's no way your bridesmaids are going to find one dress with all of these patterns and colors on it. I'm sorry." After a quick explanation about inspiration swatches and approximate matching, his mind was eased a bit. He leafed through the samples again, carefully dividing them into three piles, then walked away. 

I took his advice into consideration. Kind of. Here's what I settled on:

Writing poems for each bridesmaid was a bit too bold of an endeavor. I wrote my sister's poem first and it was pretty fantastic. Then I wrote the Maid of Honor's. It was also quite nice. Then I wrote another and it was a bit lame. Then the fourth one was real lame. The fifth... eesh. The sixth one? Well, the sixth one was a joke and included an footnote apology for being such a stinking terrible poem. Sorry, Hannah. :( Six poems was too many poems. 

Poem for Sister 
(If it doesn't make sense, let's call it an inside joke. Cool? Cool.)

I've said it before and I’ll say it again
I was real lucky when given my kin. 
I would've picked you right, straight from the lot
I feel like I hit the sister jack pot

It wasn't all daisies - this path to best chums
We fell short a few times – smack on our bums
There were hiccups, bruises and one black eye…
But we've reached the dream – the pie in the sky

You may scratch your head and say “nah, no chance…”
You can doubt all you want - call it romance
“Sisters that are best friends? Imagine that!”
Well, we've done it, made it, that’s right where we’re at!

Not many sisters can claim a BFF status
We've taken the time – built a pal lattice.
Long days at the office – work never quits
Honing our puns, sharpening our wits.

We have quite a bit of fun, me and you –
Looking back at all the things we've been through
The “Amarillo, Rojo, Negro!” bro
Blowing a tire in New Mexico…

I think of all the late nights and long chats,
Conversation rains down like dogs and cats
Hoo-ing and Ha-ing, rolling on the floor
Laughing at Special Ed and mama Heorhe

I can spill my guts, tell you all my crimes
Be a big baby, send you stupid rhymes
You don’t even flinch, take it all in stride
Dang, you’re a big sister exemplified!

So all this been said, it must be quite clear,
Sister my friend, I hold you very dear.
I’m hoping that you will stand by my side
On the one chance I’ll get to play the bride.

So, Mosquito, will you be my bridesmaid?
“Sister, please say yes!” Dani loudly bade.  
Could you, would you do me this boon?
Say yes and I would be over the moon!

 I have to say, I think the boxes turned out quite nice. All six girls readily agreed to be the BMs (hee hee hee)  so I'd say the project was a success!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Allow me to introduce 16202

Remember the picture of 16202 from this post?

Of course you do because that was only two posts ago. Well, this is 16202 back in it's heyday. Now let's take a look at 16202 circa 2013...

Can you spot the 231 changes in the pictures? 

You may notice that the deck rails were updated with some shabby chic caution tape. Or perhaps you'll notice the addition of chimney accouterments. As you can see, The Pack and I met 16202 a bit after it's glamour shots were taken in 1970 something. But we love 16202 all the same. It's our first house and it's all been very very exciting. 

We got a smokin' deal on this house since we're first time home buyers. It was built in the '60's, has three small bedrooms, one office and a great big backyard. Bruce and Trent are totally diggin' it.

We were able to include a huge chunk of renovation costs in the mortgage so we've got some funds piled up and we're ready to roll up our sleeves and give 16202 a face lift.

Here's the big plan. Are you ready? Ok, here we go:

Other outside updates:
  • Clear out blackberry bushes (they're so mean!)
  • Plant trees along fence so that the people living in the condos aren't quite so tempted to throw stuff in our yard any more
  • De-moss the whole outside
  • Find some way to make the bottom of the house meet the yard (how does one do that?)
That's the outside plans. Inside plans are as follows:
  • Refinish hardwood floors
  • Fix electric (apparently the grounded plugs aren't actually grounded right now)
  • Re-do kitchen (well, re-do kitchen as much as monetary restrictions allow)
    • Counter tops - out with the pealing linoleum in with the something else
    • Replace rotted cabinet parts with non-rotted cabinet parts
    • Refinish cabinets
    • Back splash - something snazzy like rock... maybe tile. We'll see. 
    • Floor. Maybe. Maybe not. 
  • Repaint (so long, sea foam green)

  • Drywall the garage
  • Something to do with bunnies and ducks (I'll have to ask fiance on this one)
  • Do something to the giant, gray, brick wall in the middle of the house
This is Fiance removing the protruding death bricks (why would someone put a brick shelf right at forehead height?) We had this great idea that natural brick would be awesome. Well, we've tried sand blasting, chemical stripping and  heat gun pealing. That gray won't budge. 
  • Fix the thermostat
  • Hang blinds
  • Furnish (we are getting a little tired of sharing the office chair while we watch TV)
  • Decorate
So, just a couple of little fixes here and there... 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tricks of the trade. Oy!

Wedding planning has been tougher than I expected. Like a lot of ladies out there, when I first got this pretty ring, I tromped around like a peacock saying things like "Oh I'm gonna be a relaxed bride - there really isn't that much to plan. No need to fret!" "Weddings? Eh they're just parties - no big deal at all!" "HA! Ask the fiance to help plan? I'd never do that to stud muffin, over there."

Well it turns out, I'm just like most of the other over-excited girls out there that are given a new, shiny ring. It's obvious now, so I'm gonna just stop lying and admit a couple of things - right here, right now.

I have been planning this day since I was like 3 years old
I like flowers. Quite a bit, in fact
I don't like making decisions by myself - so I'd really like it if fiance chimed in
This process is a wee bit stressful

Ok. Phew. So we're good?

After I realized that I'm not above any of the other brides (listen other brides, I'm really sorry I thought that at first. I've been humbled and I really hope you'll forgive my hauteur) I started to look for help. Here's some of the awesome things that I found so far:

Timeli the timeline app. Quite helpful. Real easy to use.

Outline by TheFWA. Hands down, the best organizing app in the world. I <3 you, Outline.  

Ready for a mind grenade? Check out It's an LA based company and it seems pretty legit. I found a dress I loooove for a smokin' $250. I'll let you all know how it works out when it gets here (the only bummer about the website is that it takes 40-45 days for dresses to get to be delivered). 

SimplyBridal Wedding Dresses

Thanks to a fellow-bride-to-be friend, I also learned an awesome trick for surviving wedding shows. My friend insisted that I print out labels with my contact information before the show so that I could simply peal and stick, rather than stop to fill out contact forms. I guffawed. I thought "No, my dear friend, these labels you speak of are below me. I won't be needing to fill out any forms." Luckily my friend continued to harass me and I went to the show with a roll of labels. GENIUS. I already won $250 off a DJ Package (which I won't be using since I'm getting married in Wyoming) since I stuck my label on just about every stick-able surface in the place. 

Another great tip: create an email address just for wedding crap. No need clogging up the 'ol inbox with David's Bridal coupons. 

Ok, I've got one last Wedding Planning tip. You probably already know it. A friend of mine gave me Meg Keene's book, A Practical Wedding. I had never heard of Meg and I put off even opening the book for a couple of weeks. Then one day, while avoiding 16202 after work because I didn't feel like unpacking or cleaning, I parked it in a coffee shop with a cup of tea and started reading. I must of been way more stressed then I realized because after about two pages I was concentrating on what Meg had to say like my life depended on it. "A wedding is about a marriage, a union of two people, not a party. Don't let other peoples' expectations drive your decisions for big moment with your future life partner. It's just a party, you don't actually care what the chairs looks like." 

Cue up "life lesson being learned" music.

I felt the lump in my throat. My eyes felt hot. Heysues chreesto! Why was I so tied up these silly little details. Deep breath. Sip of tea (ah too hot.. hot hot). Sink back in the chair. Ok. Ah Ok. Crazy bride reset. I was ready to move forward again. Thanks, Meg. I owe ya one. 

I've also poked around on Meg's blog - - a bit. It's just great. 

I'm sure they'll be more to come! Stay tuned, my friends. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Welcome to My Den

Well, it happened. I done went and grew up. I'm engaged (woo hoo!). I got a house (yee haw!). I'm starting that cozy process of dennin' up and settling down. 

Over the last few weeks I've been doing all these new things like making Save the Dates and sand blasting (*trying to sand blast) bricks. Through these new and exciting endeavors I've become a total blog addict - wedding blogs, DIY blocks, home improvement blogs, photography blogs, woodworking blogs - I've scoured them all. Well, last night, while settling in for the night in our makeshift bedroom (we're still working on getting the permits to build a bedroom onto the "new" house), it occurred to me - I could have a blog. I actually have something to blog about now! People (#me) actually read about exactly what I'm doing! Wahoo!  So there you go. Welcome to my den. 

Allow me to introduce the pack. 

The fiance - 

He's pretty dreamy, huh?

This is Trent. He's the strong, silent type. 

Here's Brewski (Bruce for short). He's a nut.

This is 16202. Our new house. 

Ok, I'm gonna be honest - 16202 looks real nice in this picture. 16202 is a tad older now (oh maybe about 20 years older or so) and a bit rougher around the edges.  

And then, of course, there's me. 

So, here's what I'm thinking for this bloggy blog. I'm gonna tell you about wedding planning and setting up our den. I might show you some pictures here and there. Maybe ask for some advice? Perhaps I'll just babble to myself. I think it'll be great.