Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Home-made trim

One of the fun things about building your own house is adding those custom little touches that say "I made this". Maybe they only say it to YOU, because you selected them, but the connection is there. I mean, maybe EVERYONE already has these special little details in their home, but I never noticed them because I DIDN'T select them. Is that possible?

Yes, but not likely.

So we've had quite a time choosing trim details for the funky farmhouse. Some were inspired by one of my favorite blogs, The Country Doctor's Wife (now called My Sister's Farmhouse). It was there that I learned about plinth blocks, and these little doo-hickeys that go in the inside corner of a room, which I mentioned in a previous post. Also, I latched onto this kind-of Craftman style header that she described as (I paraphrase because this was a couple of years ago and I haven't been able to re-find it) 'the pretty blue eyes on the face of the otherwise plain girl'. Isn't that a great description? Now don't you want to see what the heck I'm talking about?

But wait. First I have to make the point that Mark is MAKING all these trim details. From scratch. From a big sheet of MDF. So let's see it from the beginning.

Here's the sheet of MDF as it arrives at our house, in the back of Mark's truck.

He cuts it down with the table saw.

Notice the unguarded spinning blade? Yeah, there's supposed to be a guard there, but REAL carpenters disable all that stuff. At least that's Mark's story. He learned this from the three-fingered guy he used to work for. But I digress--now here he shapes the edges with the router.

And here is the profile of this particular set of trim.

Now here are some of those fancy-dancy details I was jabbering about earlier. The plinth block is the larger piece at the base of the door frame. I don't know the name of the corner piece. Mark did NOT make that from scratch. But he could if he wanted to, you know.

Here is the "pretty blue eyes" detail.

And here is a framed window. It will get an "apron" along the bottom to be complete (and spackle and another coat of paint).

Maybe someone will now google "farmhouse trim" and find ME. Just to be sure, I'll say it again.

Farmhouse trim.

Farmhouse trim.

Funky farmhouse trim (just to catch those outliers).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Chance to Excel

In the military, "another chance to excel" was the term used when someone was assigned some thankless job that no one wanted to do.

In my new role as "parent at large", I find myself volunteering for lots of activities, many which involved trying to recruit OTHER parents for...chances to excel. Unfortunately, even after a year, my network is pretty small, AND I've never been very good at reaching out and asking for help. In fact, I used up all my reaching-out-and-asking-for-help energies in support of the prior weekend's car-ni-vahl.

And this leads up to the story of how a few of us (actually the same ones who did car-ni-vahl, go figure) put on the Book Fair for our school this past week. We did have a few wonderful folks who actually sought out the opportunity to work in the fair, and I'm sure they'll be rewarded for their good deeds by being given more chances to excel!

Here is our book fair, with our fearless leader (the one who REALLY did all the work) watching over the wares. This woman went on to run a car wash this weekend, while I was a puddle of mush at home.

The fair was actually quite successful, raising money for the library, with matching funds donated to kids in need.

As a bonus, Clifford the Big Red Dog, who LOVES reading, came to present books to each classroom!

All I can say is...Yikes, was it hot in there! Note to self: bring change of clothes next time.

By the way...what are you doing next week? Do I have an opportunity for you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tears of joy

I was snuggling with my daughter Mae last night, as she was going to sleep. Now, Mae is really a "sometimes" snuggler...sometimes she likes to be close, but sometimes she might want no contact except maybe to touch me with her foot. Last night was a snuggle night, and I was enjoying it, when she said something that made my heart (and eyes) overflow.

In a quiet voice, she whispered "I can feel the love coming from you."

Is life good, or what?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hang it all out there

It is that time of year. The days are getting warmer--we had a burst of mid-70s last weekend (car-ni-vahl weekend), so on Sunday, I hung out my first laundry of the season.

Hanging laundry is still fun for me. I love it on many levels. Of course I feel good that I'm using the free energy from the sun to do my work. I love how the laundry smells fresh after drying on the line. It dries a bit stiff, so a line-dried t-shirt feels distinctly different than one dried in a clothes dryer. My favorite line-dried product is a bath towel. Nothing says "clean" like a slightly abrasive towel that smells like sunshine!

Of course, no rose is without thorns. There are some down sides. I haven't figured out how to eliminate the little press-marks and slight distortions from the clothespins. And the clothes are a little more wrinkley. It also takes more time to hang a load than to throw it in the dryer, although I usually find it a soothing activity (escape?). And of course, it takes more time to dry, unless you've got a nice, hot summer day.

All this does make me think...where am I going to put my line up at the house?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


You may have noticed a lull in posts this past week. I have been busy...VERY busy. It is time for the local school carnival, you see, and I have been doing my darndest to help it along. This is the first year the two local elementary schools and the middle school joined to put on a combined carnival instead of three individual efforts. The theme was "Mountain Mardi Gras"...with the "mountain" added to denote the wholesome, family-style atmosphere, as opposed to the "Regular Mardi Gras", which of course is NOT appropriate for grade school. This past Saturday was "showtime", so today was pretty much "recovery". Here are some views from our big time.

First, here I am preparing many, many cupcakes for the Cake Walk. At a distance, I kind of look like a Stepford Wife, don't I? Just look at the glazed look on the face, not the hair and clothes! Yes, I do LOVE preparing cupcakes for my local community! Of course, I thought cupcakes would be easier than a regular cake, but after frosting fifty or so, I think not.

Game day was absolutely gorgeous--sunny and warm. We had a great turn-out!

We had all the standard good times. Bounce houses:

Face painting (no one I know...just two little works of art!)

Dunk tank with our local dignitaries :-)

Games of chance masquerading as games of skill

Cake walk--seven lucky winners walked away with MY cupcakes!

A petting zoo, complete with lambs, goats, chickens, rabbits, and a Great Dane.

Cheap trinkets for prizes. Here is one of my little angels picking out a highly desirable gummy worm in exchange for 3 hard-won win tickets.

I'd have to confess...the girls might have had too much sugar.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the leftover goldfish that nobody wins?

We brought them home to put them in the cattle troughs, but the girls have already become possessive. I can tell it's going to be an uphill battle. I may have to transport them under cover of night.

No, I have no pride.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Budget Hair

During this year of house building, our only income is my military retirement, which I'll go ahead and tell you (pay charts are public info) is about $35k per year. Obviously "retirement" is a slight misnomer, since a) 42 is a little young to give up working and b) most people would like to make more money than that per year, especially with a family of four! However, we made a very deliberate move to a rural area with the knowledge that we were giving up a lot of earning power in exchange for environment. This year has been a year of transition in many ways, especially when looking at the challenge of how to live within our means when we weren't making any outside income. Let me just say...we don't eat out very often! I can also say that when we were on the road RVing, I realized that we could actually afford to do that indefinitely. WOW! So we have a very small financial footprint this year and hopefully will grow a little as Mark establishes a business in the area and I do...something.

Anyway, the reason I launched into this background info is that one cost-saving measure comes by having my mom do my hair. I used to fork out $120 bucks (yes!) three or four times a year to have my hair cut and highlighted. Now, for $5 I can get my hair frosted with a cap, or for $7, I can get a foil highlight.

I should probably include the price of the White Russian my mom is drinking.

Oh IS better as a blond!

And for the life of me, I can't really tell the difference between this and my high-dollar hair. Funny, eh?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Where there is a will

My neck hurts.

My head feels wobbley.

My shoulders ache.

Building a house is not ALL fun and games, you know!

Let me show you the culprit.

No...not endless Formica samples.

Not paint swatches.

Not cabinets.

The trim on the ceiling. Did you notice it?

Isn't it funky? You don't see that style of detail very often, do you? Probably because it is very expensive. SUPER expensive. Especially on a high ceiling.

OK, I don't KNOW that it is expensive, but it should be, because it is not easy to do! The trim in our case is longer than the scaffolding, so I'd hand a piece up to Mark, but he couldn't hold the whole darn thing up AND nail it. I had to help.

He needed me.

To do this:

If you think it looks like I am using a pool broom to reach up and touch the trim, you are RIGHT! That was my pin the far end of the measuring tape, and later the trim, to the ceiling.

Thankfully, the trim is all up now, and despite all my whining here, we are very happy with it. Definitely worth doing!

Mark also has the crown on the cabinets.

We also received our first shipment of hardwood flooring. It is a little darker than I remembered, but gorgeous! But that story is for another day!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Big day at the White House

Yesterday was an incredible day for several reasons. First and foremost, my 90-year-old grandmother came to visit the house.

She toured around, gave her stamp of approval, and then it was off to the casino. Yeah, really! Her zest for life is inspiring! Grandma and I have a special connection because she ALSO had twins..."identical" boys. One of them, Robert, drove Grandma up from San Diego to spend Easter with my folks.

The second big deal about yesterday is that we got all the cabinets set except for those around the refrigerator, which will be next to the back door. The peninsula really deliniates the kitchen from the living room area.

Here's the view looking down from the stairs.

While I'm up here, I'll check on my niece, Megan, who has painted ALL THIS TRIM!

Going back down to the kitchen, here's the island, with drawer banks on either side of the space where the range will slide in.

And here is the decision I still need to make. Does that Corian look $3,350 better?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Cabinet Connection

Yesterday was a BIG day up at the house--cabinets arrived! My brother-in-law, Scott, drove the truck up to deliver them himself (yes, he works for Cabinet Connection, and yes, that is a very handy connection when one is building a house).

The crowd mills in anticipation.

No pictures of the actual unloading, since everyone pitched in, and the truck was quickly unloaded. In the house, it seemed there was an ocean of boxes. Can this possibly all fit?

The first cabinet is unpacked. Will it pass inspection?

Yes! Time to celebrate!

If you look very, very closely, you can see the relief in my eyes, because the cabinets DO look great with the color of the walls.

Scott, the man of the hour, on the right.

The kids set up a bucket brigade to whisk the cardboard back into the truck.

These next few days should be really exciting as the kitchen begins to take shape. Stay tuned!