Monday, May 31, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

SUCH a great weekend! 

We took advantage of the three day weekend and did...nothing!  We packed a bag and the cooler and headed out the back door and hung out by our pool for most of it.

Saturday afternoon we were invited to take a ride on my parents' new pontoon.

I didn't waste any time lounging and getting used to hanging out on a lake.

Maddie and Jake loved walking back and forth between the front and the captain's location to learn how deep the lake was as well as what all the knobs and gadgets did.

Our kids alternated between wearing and not wearing a vest.  Jake thought he was pretty awesome in getting this one on himself:

His take on Carol Burnett channeling Scarlet O'Hara

After a spin around the lake Tracy and her crew called to see if they could hop aboard.

This is pretty much how the kids were the entire time...

For the first part of the trip though - Riley hung out in the back with Grandma:

Tracy adjusted to boating well too...

Three amigos...

Riley made it up to the front eventually too...

Though we might have to discuss boating safety.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Crafts

All week I've been itching to do something crafty.  I had a couple ideas with one of those involving all day yesterday and today but I couldn't get the details figured out in my head.  I finally got it figured out this morning and hopefully will get to tackle that next week.

In the meantime, I decided to create some decorations for our new bookshelves.  I've seen a lot of pictures lately of things using twine.  I've seen a lot of people wrapping twine around different shapes to create their own pieces.  I asked Mike if he had twine I could use and he pulled out kite string for me.  I looked at him and reached in to grab the actual thick twine he was trying to hide. 

What's his is mine, mine is his...share and share alike, buddy.

I really wanted to stretch my crafting genius, so I searched high and low for three different shaped objects we already had that I could wrap twine around.  I came up with an empty two-liter, and empty Crystal Light plastic container, and a small vase I recently received flowers in.  Then I realized that would all require a lot of twine; possibly more than I had.  So, I came up with a new plan and started all over again.

I began with these:

The two-liter was replaced by an empty wine bottle that hopefully Mike wasn't saving for anything in particular.  But, I liked the color of it and figured it only needed the label removed.

I started with the empty (and cleaned out) Crystal Light container.  I wanted varying heights on my vases/bottles, so I marked a line and cut the top part off:

Not only can it cut through tomatoes and metal cans, it cuts through plastic!  Ron Popeil would be so proud.

I tied a knot on one side and got out my trusty glue gun (of which I'm becoming more and more fond).  I put a little dab under the knot and started wrapping the twine around the cannister, keeping it as tight as possible and adding a small line of glue here and there to keep things in place.

Pretty soon container #1 was done.

Next I started on the small glass vase.  I wasn't sure I would have enough twine for this and I was thinking it would be a lot of brown.  But, I wanted some texture, so I decided to cover the vase in masking tape.  I intended for the tape to be bumpy and overlapping to create more texture so I had the strips running all over the place.  Think paper-mache without the goop.

I really had no idea if this was going to work, but it was a lot of fun.  Next I pulled out my craft paints, which I've decided I need to invest in when they are on sale.  Luckily I had an orange and brown to mix together to match our family room colors.

I painted a couple coats of my custom orange color and decided it needed something.  So, I got out my chocolate colored glaze and wipe it around.  This was good and bad.  I hadn't let the orange dry enough I guess so some of it peeled off, but in the end, I liked the little bits of color patching it resulted in.

So I had my green bottle, my orange vase and my twine vase and it didn't look right.  They just didn't tie together.  So, I had the idea to twine the top part of the green bottle and tie a bit of twine around the orange vase.  As a last ditch effort to make something I actually liked, I added a quick monogram to the all-twine container.  I think that helped a lot in making it look like...well, like something intentional and not just a large stack of twine.

The final result...

I'm waiting to see how long it takes Mike to notice them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

All Bets Are Off

Last Friday our kids had an impromptu sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  After dinner and unloading them saying our goodbyes, Mike and I tried to come up with something we could do that would actually qualify as a date.

We decided to head to Canterbury Park which is a local horse-racing park.  Admission is free this year due to their 25th anniversary and we do like cheap dates!  There were eight races that night and we got to see about five of them.

Mike lost his first $2 wager and asked what I would pick on the next one.  To compensate for the loss in revenue of admission, Canterbury now charges for the racing books.  Since we don't know how to read them anyway, we didn't buy one.  I based my guess off what info was on the televisions and we headed out to watch the race.

My horse won on something like 11-1 odds.  The payout was $22!

So, we bet on the second race.  I used my same strategy (which I'm sorry...I cannot disclose it is so scientific) and hoped for the best.

Mike was shocked when my horse started out in the lead; quite frankly so was I because the odds weren't AT ALL in his favor.  Then he slowed down and I started to think he was just fast out of the gates.  Then he started making his comeback and I started cheering like mad!  So did a bunch of other guys behind me and in front of us who had bet on this horse.

And he won!  I was pretty excited; I'd won two bets in a row!  When I looked at the final board, this horse's odds were 30-1.  That's a $65 payout on a $2 bet!

Mike was happy for me.  But not happy happy.  See...when we bet?  We just bet each other - we never actually wagered anything involving real money.  That was actually $87 I would have won...not that I did win.

After that Mike said he didn't want to play our game anymore - it was too depressing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring Recital 2010

Sunday was the recital for my piano students.  They all did great!  But, since I have to be the piano teacher there and can't show favoritism, I'm going to be the mom here and say how proud I was of Maddie and Jake!  They each had a piece that was difficult, but which they learned fairly quickly.  I'm going to have to stump them with even harder pieces next year!  (That was Jake you heard groaning in the background...)

Mike is in charge of photography at these events.  This is Jake's "normal" smile when asked to pose:

I'd bet this was followed by, " for real," from Mike.

One of Maddie's best friends takes lessons from me (note: she did great too!).

 Without further's our star performers.

Jake played "Cantina Band" from Star Wars by John Williams.  Shocking, I'm sure!

Madison played "Dizzy Fingers" by Zez Confrey.  She requested to learn this piece a couple months ago which was fine by me; I love to play this piece!

And Mike - he's still refusing to take lessons from me.  But he's a trooper - it's not easy being the family of a piano teacher.  You hear a lot of wrong notes before you start to hear the good stuff.  You also hear a LOT of the same songs week in and week out.  I think Mike's always a little happy at recital time because it means a new rotation of songs begin.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Would You Like Your Eggs?

Saturday morning Mike decided he was in the mood for eggs.  This thrills the kids; they love eggs.  I'm not a huge egg fan and it doesn't help that Mike and I are at odds on egg cooking.  He's a great cook in a lot of things, but I find his eggs on the dry side.  He calls mine runny.  They aren't runny...they don't slosh around.  Mine just don't happen to have any and all moisture sucked out of them.  He told me if I'd eaten the eggs he did in the army then I would eat dry eggs too.  Whatever...I'm not a huge egg fan, but less so when Mike's making them.

No matter who makes them though, we all have our favorite toppings.

Mike:  boring.  He prefers salt and pepper.

Maddie:  She prefers syrup on her eggs. 

Me?  I prefer eggs with ketchup on them, thanks to my dad.  Delicious!

Jake?  He used to like them with ketchup.  I think this really disturbed his Grandma Murphy when he first asked for this.  It might still really disturb her.  Now she might just ban him from her kitchen when she finds out he likes:

Ketchup and syrup.  [Shudder]  Even I'm disturbed by this.  And he actually ate it all.

Stop by for breakfast whenever.  We'll have all the condiments ready and waiting!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Gardens

Last weekend was so gorgeous here - and Mike and I were thrilled that we got tons done around the house both inside and out.  One of those was getting our flowers bought and planted!  That was my job.  Mike has been working on arranging/organizing his workshop area.  I think he foresees a lot of building on my our part if I keep printing off all these plans!

I have decided I'm a container gardener.  Maybe someday if I get the hang of keeping things alive, I might venture into a real garden area - for flowers only.  But, it really holds little appeal to me right now.

We headed to Lowe's and this year we purchased three hanging baskets with the metal and mossy stuff inside.  I think these look nice - much better than our plastic ones from last year.  A lady shopping last year told me she keeps the plastic ones year to year and just repots them - they are cheap!  Well, ours didn't last through the summer, so we hope these hold up a little more.

I'm so much happier with these plants than last year.  Last year was a last-minute-let's-try-flowers thing.  The flowers we had were all that Lowe's had left after the beginning of the season and they were uber cheap.  They were okay, but I wanted something different. 

Let's start with these:  Gerbera Daisies.  I love these.  Tulips are my favorite, but each year, these move ever closer to edging out tulips.  The ivy is "Expoflora".  Apparently it's a perrenial.  I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it in the winter.  Repot it for inside?  That might be more than I can handle.

The next post was kind of tossed together and I wasn't sure about it, but I'm really beginning to think it might be my favorite of the three.  It's only been four days though so we'll see if they continue to flower like this.  The flowers on the right are "Dahlinova California".  I mentioned that I wanted some grassy stuff.  I was thinking long and pointed and when the lady showed me the grass below, I wasn't so sure.

It's called "Fiber Optics Grass" and you can see the little nodules on the end.  It's really kind of cool and is growing on me.

In the back is another vine - "Illumination".  Another perrenial.  Our house might be covered in vines this winter.  The solid orange flower in the back is called a "Dahlinova Caroline Orange".  I thought Jake would appreciate this one.

The last pot is definitely colorful.  It started out with a white flower, yellow flower and purple leaves.  It was a little too Vikings for me.  The plant lady suggested the pink and while I'm not a huge pink fan, it was a nice touch.

I thought this purple leaf thing would vine down.  The plant lady told me it wouldn't.  It's a "Charmed Velvet". 

She handed me the "Sweet Georgia Deep Purple Ipomoea" and said this would vine.  It's on the bottom left.  I guess I'll be surprised it if actually vines.  It just doesn't look like it to me.  You know - since I wrote the book on gardening. 

This yellow flower is a "Non-Stop Yellow Begonia".  Lots of petals!  And no - those aren't bugs, just leftover dirt from planting.  These petals seem to brown easily and quickly so we'll have to see how this goes throughout the summer.

This is a "Dahlinova Carolina Burgundy" - I think.  I think they are a little off the mark in the "burgundy" classification but maybe the naming people were color blind.

And the Boy Scouts delivered this "Siberian Iris".  Which, when talking to my mother-in-law, Kay, I found out is a perennial.  Vines and irises - that's what will be in our house this winter.  That is...IF this blooms.  So far nothing and I've seen a lot of irises blooming around here already.  Kay said her's are blooming already too.  This is the second plant I bought from the Boy Scouts.  If I don't get a flower off this (which I didn't last year) then I'm going to have to not answer the door next year.  If I answer the door I'll be guilted into buying another flower and these are pricey!

We also have two cups that Maddie and Jake gave me for Mother's Day.  Maddie says hers contains a geranium.  I asked Jake what his was and he said he had no idea.  I thought it looked like a bean plant but he said, "Nope.  The bean plant died."  So we have a geranium and a mystery plant.  Both of which have been on death's door when I forgot to water them for three days.

And there ends the Murphy Garden Tour 2010.  Hopefully these last until August.  Wish us luck!

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Should See the Other Guy

Last Friday Sadie had surgery.  She came home Friday afternoon and looked like she'd been beaten up.

I don't think she was feeling too great...

Even Mike couldn't lift her spirits...

Let me translate for her:

"This is humiliating."

"I feel like I've been through the war.  All of them."

"I have the camouflage bandage to prove it.  In pink.  Barf."

"Seriously?  Lady with the camera?  What do you mean how do I feel?  You journalists ask the dumbest questions."

"Now help me onto my bed.  It's too high."

I must say - we all felt sorry for her that first day.  She looked and sounded pathetic.  In fact Mike slept in the family room while she was in the kennel because we weren't sure how she was going to be during the night.  She is feeling much better - though she still looks goofy.  Unfortunately there are endless laughs at her expense:

1.  She cannot go into her kennel normally; the cone is too big for her to move around.  This results in at least one of us making a beeping sound as we gently push her into the kennel.
2.  One of Sadie's quirks is that she loves tight spaces.  She loves to take a nap curled up in a corner or as close to a wall as she can squeeze.  When she walks she cuts corners as close to the edge as possible.  Now?  Now when she cuts corners she ends up running into a wall resulting in her being bounced backward.  She might even try this twice before she realizes she has to take a wider curve.  And we laugh everytime.  I'm sorry...but she looks drunk.

Our conehead will be like this for the next two weeks as she recovers.  Then she'll probably need a therapy session or two.

Move Over, Norm Abram

Recently our garage became the "NEW New Yankee Workshop". 

Awhile ago Tracy and I came across the blog, Knock-Off-Wood.  I'm addicted to this site, I believe.  So is my sister.  So is at least one of my neighbors.  We might have to start a therapy group soon.  Anyway - this lady posts furniture plans for free.  She bases a lot of these plans off furniture found at Pottery Barn and other nice, but out-of-our-budget stores.  I have now got a running list of plans I want to build.  Tracy and I already built a picnic table (see here and here) for her kiddos that looks awesome and was a good jumping off point.  I have been on the lookout for a great set of bookcases/hutches for our family room.  My problem was they needed to be at least 13-15 inches deep for our scrapbooks and I wanted them tall.  Also I wanted storage, so I didn't want scrawny looking ones.  I desperately wanted this bookcase to have doors on the bottom to hide miscellaneous things. 

I was given a budget by Mike which seemed more and more unreasonable as the weeks passed.  Then I found this plan (here and here) on Ana's site and went to Lowe's to price things out.  I was pretty sure Tracy and I could build it and discovered I could do it for a lot less than what Pottery Barn cost.

A few weeks ago I headed to Lowe's.  I'd completely drawn out cutting plans on graph paper for my 4'x8' sheets of plywood.  Our table saw was broken, so I had someone at Lowe's cut all my pieces.  He was so nice and spent at least 45 minutes making all my cuts.  In hindsight, I would probably have him only cut the sheet small enough for me to get home with it, but I'd make most of the cuts myself.  He did great, but some were a little off that I might have noticed on my own without a time constraint. 

I got to work on it on Thursday about 3 weekends ago.  I started the assembly of one of the bases.  Mike came out later that night to help me finish a little bit of it.  Tracy came over on Friday and helped me out all afternoon. 

You'll notice she's wearing safety glasses.  This is an improvement over building her picnic table.  Building that she got through about 75% of her cuts and realized the glasses were on top of her head.  I showed Tracy this jig (a Kreg jig) that drills holes so we could screw the top in from underneath.  Mike and I had used it to build our laundry room and I think this jig is so fun to use; turns out Tracy thought so too.  Now you know what you can get her for Christmas, Rob.  You're welcome. 

You'll notice I'm not wearing any glasses.  This is about the point where I thought, "This is dumb to not wear glasses," as I picked sawdust out of my eyelashes.

Tracy and I worked hard and we got one of the bases framed and the other one trimmed.  I was pretty proud of us!  Thanks mom and dad for watching her kids all day!

Saturday Mike came into the picture and helped out.  You'll notice the jacket.  Our garage door was shut but it was crazy cold the last couple weeks.  Ridiculous.

Anyway - we got the second base trimmed and started working on doors. 

Then things came to a grinding halt.  We could NOT get the right fit for the doors.  Admittedly, our base was not square - it was off by like 1/8 of an inch.  We didn't think this would be that big of a deal, but I guess it is.  Mike saved the day on this and we cut doors to mostly fit and then he trimmed it out in such a way that from the outside the doors look normal.  But, the inside is hideous. 

Then, once that was "fixed" we could not get the right hinges.  While looking at the second set of hinges at Lowe's, there was a lady next to us that was contemplating hinges for the cabinet doors she was building.  I got curious and asked where she got the plans for her project and she said she got them from the same website I was working from!  She is also addicted.  She will be invited to the meetings as well.

We ended up using butterfly hinges because we couldn't get the European hinges to leave a small enough gap.  We have some research to do on that still.

But, this turned into a family affair.  During the hinge installation, Jake came in to help out...

See!  So easy an 8-year-old can build it!

The Sunday of that first weekend Mike and I worked on building the hutches.  My redrawn plans called for a base 36" wide and a hutch 24" wide.  I thought this would give it a nice shape and not just be a big square.  This hutch went together so easily and I was extremely excited to get the hutch on top of the base to see how it looked.  So, we hoisted the hutch up and looked at it.

And I didn't know what to say.  I didn't like it.  It looked ridiculous in shape.  So I called Tracy who came over to give a second opinion and when she saw it she said, "Huh.  Nope.  That's not what I expected it to look like at all."

It was 3:30pm and I asked Mike if we could go to Lowe's to get another sheet of plywood and build a wider hutch.  He just looked at me and reminded me I had no clue what sizes to cut and that it was, in fact, 3:30pm.  So, building the hutch waited for another week.  By the following weekend I had everything sized, I had Lowe's make only two cuts and we did the rest at home (on our new table saw!).  These really went together fairly easily.  I added a backing and we added a permanent shelf to help stabilize (and square) it up.  The following week(s) we waited for rain to stop so I could paint. 

Can I just say - it's hard to paint black.  We have one 60 watt bulb in our garage.  You can't see what you are painting when it's black.  But worse?  Painting black while facing into the sun.  When the garage door was open and we had tons of light - it was too much.  My eyes would adjust to the darkness of the black inside these cabinets and then I'd move my head outside to paint and I'd be blinded and couldn't see anything.  Very frustrating!

But, by Saturday afternoon I was finished painting and we moved pieces into the family room.  Are you ready for the final result?

First I have to say, Maddie also helped in painting.  But, I couldn't get a picture of her painting because I was covered in paint myself and didn't want to ruin my camera.

Okay - now...are you ready?

Please pay no attention to the decorations.  Other than the scrapbooks and family pics, things will be a-changin'!  And someday there will be a fireplace between them.

I really had fun with this project and I'm so proud of myself and everyone that helped out.  Because it took a village to make these things.  And mostly I learned a few things:

1.  I'm not as afraid to use a table saw.  Mike still makes the really big cuts, but I rock on my own on the smaller ones.
2.  Squaring up really does help.  Who-da thunk it.  But I need a lot more practice in this area.
3.  I really don't mind painting (though black is currently not my fave color).  I hate painting, sanding, painting, sanding.  Consequently that process didn't happen.  Mostly I hate sanding if you didn't catch the hints.  I might have skipped that step.
4.  You have to measure a board in more than one place to ensure a correct size.  I thought a measure down the middle meant the whole board equaled that.  Hence the reason for not-square-bases.  Only we didn't realize this until after everything was glued, screwed and set.
5.  Nail guns with brads should be used on trims.  Not two inch exterior screws.  Just makes the finish nicer.
6.  I think 1x2s are kinda cute. 
7.  I love the smell of sawdust.  Seriously weird, but I hold it to similar happiness that fresh-cut-grass provides.

Bonus?  Even on the high end of what my estimate is for what this cost to build (I haven't tallied final numbers, but I have a general idea) this only cost us about 15% of what it would have cost to order from Pottery Barn...and that doesn't include shipping!  (And I'm under budget for what Mike gave me!)

Thanks, Ana, I look forward to building my desk from the same collection.  It's a summer project that will need to happen sooner rather than later.  Mike is eyeing the 24" wide hutch that didn't get used and claims it would work great in his workshop.  It's mine!