Saturday, August 20, 2011

Home Improvement...or Embellishment Projects

I said I would get around to posting pictures of some of our projects for making our little apartment more ideal for us, SO here they are!   

Practical Projects:: 

Simon enjoys and is good at building things, like furniture, especially when it is to meet an immediate need.  The two biggest problems with our apartment were: 1. Zero bathroom storage space and 2. no desk area.  

The bathroom was definitely the main priority because we quickly grew tired of a living room full of toiletries.  

This is the shelf he decided on.  My favorite feature is the little divided shelf because it's a more pronounced territory-none of that accidental drifting Q-tip business.  But really, it is nice to have the one shelf divided.  This size also allowed out-of-the-way storage for our broom.  Also, in a later home if we don't have a bathroom storage need, it would work well as a book shelf or something.  This was our first staining experience so the wood, especially in this picture, looks more painted than it is.  With this project we learned that with stain, less is more and we think that sponge brushes are the most helpful tool for application.   Also, if we had more wood/ money to spend, we would have definitely preferred doors to hide the clutter and made the piece look a little more complete.  

The second need, as I said, was the desk area.  There was only a tiny area in one corner between the window (as shown) and the closet door which opens to the left.  Because he had to completely custom make this piece for this space we decided to go with as much practicality as possible and worry less about it working later on.  The three drawer thing I already had acts as the right leg and the right side is curved-in to allow the closet to open.  It's exactly what we need so I'm really excited about it.  And we were able to keep the gigantic chair Simon had managed to accumulate during his bachelor-hood.  This was our second staining experience and we liked the results much better.  The wood grain really shows thru and it only took one coat. 

This last practical build is a little older, he made it for me for Valentine's day, but i wanted to add it in here.  It's a much needed asset in the kitchen and I use it multiple times a day.  With such limited storage space, a stepstool has allowed us to use every inch of our kitchen cabinets for everyday things rather than having to only put unfrequented items on the top shelf and such.  ( He's been trying to get me to take the bow off for months but I think it looks just fine with it on)
One thing, looking back now, he wishes he had done differently would be to put a handle hole in the top step for easier moving.

Decoration/Just-For-Fun Projects::

Using the same paint from the step stool Simon made this for our wedding.  At the reception it acted as a napkin and spoon holder, but now it's perfect as a holder for our napkins and napkin rings.  We use cloth napkins to save on trash and money (even though napkins aren't that expensive, it's still something we use multiple times a day and, to us, it's worth it).

For the bathroom we couldn't decide on a good place for wet towels so we used some 3M hooks I had from the dorm and made them fun by personalizing some His and Her bathroom signs Simon had gotten from his cousin, Jessica, somewhere along the line.  We had fun using some old fabric I had to dress them.

I really enjoy DIY decorations as well as using natural colors and materials to decorate so it's always fun when I am able to combine the two.  A few visits ago to see Jessica and Grant we had been looking at random home decor ideas (we Jessica and I, Grant and Simon were not involved in this discussion).  Outside some building there was a huge wall decoration of tree limb slices that made a cool effect.  I decided to try it on a smaller scale.  
We just used some fallen, fresh tree limbs we found and sliced it into 1-inch thick slices. 


After I had arranged them all into a pattern I liked we drew it out on paper and numbered the pieces in order to re-create the exact pattern later.  

Using thin plywood Simon cut out the same shape for backing.

Using screws, he attached the rounds to the backing.

We attached a sawtooth hanger (those picture hanging things with the sharp zig-zaggy teeth on one side) to hang it.  We eventually want to add to it; After seeing it on the wall and having the final product we both agree having a larger more dramatic piece would be better, but I'm really happy with the outcome.  
(Please excuse the mess, I decided to take a picture as we were unloading and unpacking from our trip)

While we were on the wood-slicing kick, Simon had the idea to experiment with some home-made coasters.  Again, just slicing the wood - thinner this time- and then putting a protective glaze on top.  We decided that a little thicker than shown is better because, this thin, they have the tendency to bow up in the center.  Not enough to be a problem, but that is a change we would make if we were to make them again.

Well, these are the DIY projects we've been working on recently.  It's wonderful that we both have fun doing things like this and it can be a hobby we enjoy together.  It's also been neat, since we both have really similar styles, to hear each others ideas and bring them to fruition.  We are both working on a few other projects now that aren't quite finished so, more to come later! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dime Box Again

After Summer classes finally ended, we went back up to Dime Box for about two and a half weeks to work a bit more before starting school for real.  It definitely gets old with just the two of us and Yahtzee so it was really nice to have visitors throughout our stay.  When we arrived Tanya, Wilson, Mia, Ally, Emi, Bill, Toni, Marvin and Kale were there for the weekend, so we were able to begin out stay with friends and family.  
  I think everyone had been in need of some time away from the real world and it was nice for me to have a day or two of fun in between summer classes and starting our work.

One of the best things so far about spending so much time there this Summer has been getting to see everyone in Texas a lot more than normal.  We've gotten to play and spend quality time with the girls during a cute and exciting stage of their life.  It has been so neat to see them get excited about the "special things" in life like a sudden rain storm or a rainbow prism on the wall.  Seeing life through the eyes of a child is a humbling thing and usually a much needed reminder to take life a little less seriously and have a little more fun.

 This is Emi enjoying some Mama attention while Mia and Ally are occupied with Kale

 All ages seemed to enjoy a few good episodes of Wallace and Gromit, I think every one at one point or another could be caught trailing off in mid sentence, captured by a funny scene or the giggling coming from the couch.

Simon got a game for our wedding: Abalone, and Emi was very interested in seeing what it was all about.  She was too cute peering up over the table as far as she could.  Mia at one point came over and was disconcerted to find that there weren't any other colors than white and black in this game.

 As usual, it was awesome to just live among the horses.  However, we did spend a good bit of our time keeping them out of the yard while the gate was being fixed.  Here is one of those times we were unsuccessful and they could have cared less as they munched on forbidden grass.

On the third weekend of our stay, Grant and Jessica, and later their friend Rob, came to visit.  Grant and Simon decided to revisit childhood activities like making rockets out of empty coke bottles, bleach, hydrogen peroxide- and of course fire.

 They successfully, and surprisingly, launched the thing after a lot of tries and a lot of matches.

The take-off scared us all to death because none of us expected it to work by that point.

There were also some less enjoyable moments during our Dime Box time and I learned a thing or two about something called necessary evils: An event or thing that is beneficial, if not necessary to the good of a cause yet is, at its core, characterized by imputed bad conduct or outright immoral disposition.  This said necessary evil is more commonly known as a Guinea Hen.  Many a early mornings we awoke to complete darkness and the unmistakable squawk of the beast.

For your enjoyment or disdain I have included a taste of the little mess that has taken it upon itself to be the trigger happy Dime Box rooster.

I didn't get a chance, sadly, to take a first hand video wile we were there but this makes the point just fine.  Simon thinks they sound like a squeaky wheel, i think they sound like they are being bounced.

Well, between card games, family time, delicious meals by both Tanya and Jessica, stroller races, bean bag tosses, water-hosing unruly horses, giving angry stares at guinea hens and a whole lot of heat, our memories of Dime Box thus far are good ones and I look forward to more opportunities in such a place where God's beauty can be seen in the sound of the rain, the laughter of loved ones, the slow blending of the sky in a sunset and maybe even in the squawk of a guinea hen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Apartment

Last month we finally moved into our apartment!  We had been storing wedding presents and house things at my parents' which was, I'm sure, no fun for them and all together hectic.  We were starting to get tired of the homelessness that had been our married life thus far and were more than ready for move in day!  
Our apartment is definitely only fit for two but it is perfect for us!
Moving in started about like most move-in days do... super messy (this is a sample of how the rest of the apartment looked)

But by the end of the weekend it was more or less the same as it is now. 
 This is what you see right when you walk in (and on the left front by the fridge is where the kitchen table is that's shown covered in boxes in the first picture). The little step-stool was a present Simon made for me and it is completely perfect because most of the cabinet space i can't reach without it.

This is to the right when you walk in.  The hanging pictures got miss-judged a bit during put-up so they are different now.

The bedroom -one and only- is straight ahead between the kitchen and the living room.  Comparatively, it is a huge bedroom for such a little apartment and the closet follows suit.  On the right in the room (not shown) there is a small empty space that will soon be filled with a desk, which Simon plans to build soon, to cater to our much needed "office area".  There isn't much storage in any area of the house and we both managed to bring a ton of desk/office/study stuff with us.  We're hoping that will help a bit.  Pictures of that to come later

The only other room in our little home, and potentially the most important one, is the bathroom.  I probably could have put the lid down before I took a picture but oh well. 
On the right of this picture is a large empty space, next to a sink, (this is another room with NO storage whatsoever) for which Simon built a shelving storage thing. Pictures of that to come with the desk pictures.  

One of the nicest things about our apartment is that it is really close to school so, thus far, i've been able to bike rather than drive (or walk i suppose).
An evening tradition, as it has turned into, and something I want to remember, is having tea together.  (May I point out the awesome yellow tea kettle on the stove in above photo).  These are our favorite cups (ok I'm the one who has cup preferences)  from our friends Larry and Sonja paired with some delicious banana bread from Toni on one such tea night.

My mom bought us a welcome mat to complete our settling in. It's perfect!

Well, this is our home these days; It's nice to finally have one!