Thursday, May 20, 2010

We Got a Puppy DOG!!!!

We are the proud new parents of quite possibly the cutest and sweetest dog on the entire face of the earth!!

Marley (we might change that- how many Marley's are there out there right now?) came from Save A Dog, which is a fabulous organization based in Sudbury, MA. They treat their dogs really well, follow a holistic approach to their health and give them lots of outdoor playtime. The dogs come into the main shelter periodically, but spend most of their time at foster homes all over the state.
We picked Marley up after work tonight. He came into the house and proceeded to spend about an hour sniffing all over the first floor (he's not sure what to do with the stairs yet!) When he'd sniffed to his content he found a comfy spot and flopped down!

I made dinner (hotdogs- we were short on time!) and he came in to investigate, but didn't try to steal anything.
When we sat down on the couch to eat , Marley spent about 20 seconds like this:

Realized he wasn't getting any food, made a quick inspection of the beverages:

And then curled right back up on the rug until we finished eating!

Not bad for 9 months old!
He's a Lab and Great Pyrenees mix, a pretty big guy at 64 pounds!

Definitely looks like a combination of the two! (That spot on his tail is an allergic reaction to Frontline. We'll need to find an alternative to that!)
He did really well on our first walk, not showing any inclination to pull on the leash at all, which is great!

He's sooo puurrrrty...

How could you not love that face? We already do!! : )

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Swing Made for Two (or three, if you squish)

Hubby and I got a swing for our back yard last weekend! We have an adorable picture of his parents sitting on a similar swing at our vacation place in Maine:

And when I couldn't find any adirondack chairs that were tall enough for the elder generation to get in and out of, I though this might be the perfect solution! We tested out a couple set up at Lowes, and the North Haven 3 person Swing was pretty darn comfortable! So we waited around about 45 minutes while someone fetched it down and helped load it into the Sportwagon, then drove it home. Then, actually, we stuck it in the garage because it was Monday and we weren't going to have time to put it together until the weekend!

But when the weekend rolled around, we loaded it up onto the wheelbarrow, wheeled it into the back and started the set up!

The instructions said it was supposed to take half an hour to set up.

But after I saw this:

I knew that we were in for a lot longer than half an hour! It ended up taking us a little over an hour, which seems from the comments on the website like it might be a new record! This is where we were at about the 30 minute point, which was a little less than half way finished.

The frame went together perfectly. A couple bolts were a little hard to get in place, but a full-sized wrench did the job. The seat was a different issue since the center joint, which comes connected, wasn't welded exactly in the right place. That bar actually bent every so slightly as we attached the arms and tightened everything down, but that seems the way with all things Lowes (and generally all things mass assembled!)

The only other problem we had putting it together was that the locking mechanism on one side of the canopy doesn't align quite perfectly, with the result that it sits slightly skewed. See that ripple in the top? Not supposed to be there. But I figure if we add a rubber washer to that side then it should sit right!

Even with the imperfections, Hubby says it's pretty comfy! And I've already wasted an hour or two down there with a book on a sunny afternoon!

It's a pretty good spot for lazing away an afternoon!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Second Annual Derby Party

How is it that I've just now realized that I never actually blogged about the Derby party last year?! Oops... Anyhoo, this year's was great!
I prayed and prayed for good weather, and boy did I get it! In fact, it was so warm that I sent Mom and Hubby out an hour before the party to buy an umbrella for the porch!

I learned a lot from last year's party and made things so much easier for myself this year!
Last year I thought I'd be cute and accommodating to a variety of tastes by putting out ingredients for a few drinks along with recipes as horse blankets for decoration:

I also kept the bar clear and pretty by putting the beer in a cooler out on the porch. The result was that I spent about 90% of the party directing people to the beer and mixing drinks. When I pointed out the bar and the many options people would choose one and say, "Oh that sounds good, could you make me one of those?" Not the best way to spend a party! So this year :

Beer went in a bucket right on the bar, and I premixed a HUGE batch of mint juleps and put it in a help-yourself dispenser in the sunroom! (Which I actually forgot to take a picture of, but it was this one.)

It was great! Except for the part where people got a little sloppy and spilled the super-sugary drinks all over my newly painted floor! Oh well, I'd rather spend a few hours mopping later on for the opportunity to enjoy my own party!

The other thing I did to make it easier on myself was to order in KFC as the main dish. All the appetizers, side dishes and dessert were home-made, but fried chicken for 20-30 people would have been WAY too much work! And you know what? People LOVED it! I don't know if everyone was just a little more tipsy than usual from the easy access to the alcohol, but there were actual shouts of , "Aww, yeah KFC!" Perfect!

In fact, the dinner table was ravaged so quickly that I didn't get a picture! But weren't the appetizers pretty?
Everyone who came got into the spirit with pretty dresses and some great hats!

Last year's winner of the hat contest reworked her hat in a gift-wrap theme for this year.

Hat and snacks all in one!

The babies all looked adorable, though none were too fond of wearing their hats!

But they were fond of each other, which was pretty darn cute!

This hat had a surprise in the back:

And here's me:

Since I can't win my own contest I just bought one. Hey, I had enough work getting the house ready! It came from Dahlia World on ebay.
This year's hat contest winner, by a long shot, was this home-made masterpiece of feathers, pearls, stones, flowers and ribbons:

Which you can see much better here:

Pretty incredible, huh?
All in all people seemed to have a pretty good time.

The stairs and bridge got used.

Even the babies had fun!

Well, most of the babies...

Though one of my personal favorite moments was when someone pointed out that Hubby and a friend of his were hanging out on the porch of our shed, which we have affectionately dubbed "the Dollhouse":

Why? I still have no idea! It was pretty funny, though. And really, what's a party without a few moments of crazy?
I can't wait for next year's!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We Have Deck Stairs!

Previously the second story deck off our kitchen had no exit. If you wanted to get down to the backyard you had to come back into the house and either go through the basement (so cheery), or out the front door and walk all the way around the house. Who planned that?!
Well, not any more!!
Now you can go out the slider from the kitchen or sunroom,

down the new stairs

and there you are right in the yard (Our sad, sad, two level, totally un-landscaped back yard.. Lot's more work needs to be done here...)

So much better... It even gave us a much better place for our composting barrel! (It used to be at the front of the house by the garage entrance.) Bonus!

The interesting thing is that the contractor didn't bother with a poured cement base for the uprights. He said that since our yard is almost pure sand (true) that we didn't need to worry about frost heaving since the ground won't hold enough water to freeze anyway, so the supports don't need to go so deep.

He pretty much dug a hole, stuck in a cement block and used that as the base.
If that really is all that needs to be done for a base, then putting in a lower level deck at the foot of the stairs is going to be way easier than I thought it would be. Which is great, because I can TOTALLY do that myself! Ok, well not all by myself, I'll need at least one burly man to help with the heavy lifting... but by brother already volunteered himself and possibly one other fireman buddy for the price of beer and pizza! SWEET!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunroom Makeover!

Hey Everyone!
I know it's been awhile since I posted a teaser picture about my sunroom re-do, but there's been a lot going on!
Cutting straight to the point, here is the evolution:
Before we moved in:

(At inspection:)

Before (with our stuff and new chandelier):

Middle: (Slapped up some yellow paint, made new curtains)

I must not have been particularly impressed with the color right off since this was one of the only photos I could find!


Ok, for those of you that want details, keep reading. If you just want more eye candy, scroll down!

The first step was to rip out that awful acoustic tile:

Underneath we found this:

And a roof!

Well that answers my question about whether the sunporch was original to the house, or an addition! Hubby pulled down all those cross bars that the tiles had been stapled to, and I set to spraying all that wood!

We used the Porter-Cable PSH1 Gravity Feed Spray Gun on all the vertical surfaces (the beams and walls), and rolled the ceiling, using the sprayer to blend the corners.

Boy am I glad we decided to work from the top down, because paint dust got everywhere! (Nice sunset, though, huh?)
It took 3 or 4 coats (the 4th was a touch-up) to keep the wood from showing through.

I used one coat of Olympic VOC free primer and 2.5 coats of Du Jour by Valspar.
Next up was that rug!

Eww! I can't tell you how badly I've been wanting to rip that out since the second I laid eyes on it!

Seeing how much filth is always under wall-to-wall carpets makes me hate them even more! But I was thrilled at the condition of the ply-wood underneath!

I know, an odd thing to be thrilled about. But new flooring isn't in the current budget, so I was counting on being able to paint it, and the floor under the dining room rug had been all warped and splintered.

But this was perfect!
Next up was painting the walls:

I custom mixed two paints for this color, about 40% Lettuce Alone by Olympic with 60%(ish) DuJour by Valspar. Two coats, no primer (I was getting lazy!) I also was afraid to wait for warm weather any longer, so the paint kept sagging because the walls were so cold!

Nothing a little diligence and a few touch-ups couldn't save, though!

Then came the floor paint, which Hubby thought should be as light as possible to keep things nice and bright in there. We used Chowder in Valspar's Porch and Floor paint. (Which, in hind sight, I should have objected to more strenuously. I loved the idea, but Oh! The mess from drippy mint juleps and muddy feet at the Derby party!!)
And I know I took pictures... I definitely did... I remember having trouble with the glare... but I can't find them...
So we'll move right on to the finished product:

Ta Da!
You may have noticed that I painted all the brown wicker a nice clean white:

(A project made easy with my new spray gun!)
I managed to finish my first slip-cover in time to get the couch out!

Although if I were buying the fabric now rather than using the $1/yard stuff I got at Walmart like 6 years ago, I would have picked heaver weight so it wouldn't wrinkle so much! Oh well, live and learn, it's certainly better than it was before!
Mom did a super-speedy slip for the matching chair the day before the party, and look how cute it is! (All that experience makes a difference, I guess!)

She even managed to eek enough leftover from the Laura Ashley print I'd bought to recover the wicker cushions to make a complimentary back pillow!

You can see the old fabric on the wicker loveseat here:

The colors were fine, but they're starting to wear through on the edges. I swapped the trunk we were using before as a coffee table on the porch with the glass one in the living room.

I love the way it reflects the light and the trees!

I did another leftover paint mix to paint the old side-table light blue (it was one of those horrid oak folding things.) It works great for the TV that normally lives upstairs in the guest room!

A candle-ier in each corner for some mood lighting. (oops, forgot to move the mint julep jug!)

Love this one my sister got me, it's so pretty!
A few accessories for pops of color, like the rippled throw from Cynthia Rowley:

And the pillow to match. A blue glass candle holder for a little variety... and of course some light reading material!

But of course the real highlight of the porch is the view:

Which I've had very little to do with! Even the cat likes it!

Well, that was a LONG post! I hope you all enjoyed the makeover- I know we certainly are!!