Um where did April go? The shower-iest month seems like a distant memory by now, but it was filled with outdoor makeovers, bathroom updates, shades a plenty, and even a bit of rapping. So we’re taking a moment to appreciate all the things that we checked off of our list as a motivator to hopefully make the coming months just as productive. Oh and you can catch superlative recaps of the last 2+ years here (in 27 easily skimmed posts instead of nearly 900 long ones!). Plus, we’ve got a little clue about what’s happening next week in the mix below…
Most Photogenic: Next Monday’s giveaway, which should make all of you fellow Instagram addicts pretty dang excited.
Most Foolish: Us, for kicking off the month with a faux rap video in honor of April Fool’s. A few of you even fell for it or wanted it to be longer (jiggawhat?!).
Most Delayed: Adding crown molding to the tops of our kitchen cabinets… finally. Something about being on a crown molding kick made us bite the bullet and polish those guys off.
Most Awesome: Finally getting our “Things That Are Awesome” print hung up in the guest bedroom as part of finishing off that side of the room (and adding a colorful little bookcase too).
Most Weirdly Amusing: In this updated video tour of our house, a towel falls off a hook at one point. I have no idea why that cracked us up so much…
Most Worldly: The map calendar that we cut apart to create a series of art for our hallway. It makes for a nice visual wish-list of places we’d like to go, since so far we’ve only been to one of the eight cities shown. So yeah, we should get on that.
Least Naked: The space above our TV which we finally dressed up with a simple DIY shelf and a few colorful objects. The award for “Most Naked” may go to the Games of Thrones episode that’s still on our DVR.
Smartest: All of the friends and family we tapped for advice on how they work smarter, not harder - including ideas for organizing your daily tasks, emailing efficiently, and even blogging better. Not to mention all of the tips you guys added in the comments!
Most Relieved: Sherry, when she learned that busting out the scallops on our porch was going to be much simpler than the last time she attempted it on our first house. It’s always nice when a project starts off easier than expected!
Most Proven Wrong: Me, I’ll admit. I told Sherry I wasn’t convinced that we should add window treatments to our office. But from the moment the bamboo shades went up in there I knew I was wrong. I’m still surprised at how much more finished they made the room feel. And the new house will definitely get a nice gaggle of bamboo blinds in cahoots with a boatload of curtains.
Beefiest: The new columns on our front porch, which we boxed out last month to give our house a bit more of a modern look. Just looking at this picture again is giving me flashbacks to all the caulking we did out there to make sure everything was sealed up to keep out moisture. But we love that the new columns are a lot more true to a ranch style home (many of our neighbors have squared off columns that used to make us green with envy).
Most Well-Traveled: Certainly not us, although we did clock a lot of travel as part of our book tour. So we shared ten things we learned along the way and in the comments you guys added a lot more great tips and advice.
Most Polished: The three additional spaces we added crown molding to, making all of the rooms in our house officially crownified (except bathrooms). This post also has a step-by-step video tutorial of the process for any future crown installers out there.
Craftiest: Clara, who got her first experience Mod Podging as part of this little box makeover which involved some washi tape and one of Clara’s paintings from school.
Most Tedious: Clipping off branches from a vine that was bad news for the tree off of our patio. It wasn’t the most exciting task, but the open feeling it brought to that side of the house was well worth it. Plus, I got to wear a construction helmet.
Most Neutralized: The guest bathroom, which we painted white (trim, walls, and ceiling) in preparation for a mini-makeover. It was a small change from the cream paint that was in there before, but was an important step in freshening it up a bit – and it made the yellow tile more charming when it wasn’t in a big off-white box.
Most Likely To Throw Shade: The bamboo blinds that we also hung in our sunroom to add a bit of privacy and warmth to the window-tastic room.
Most Talkative: Members of the new forums that we added for you guys to chat/exchange ideas/share project photos. Update: we’ve since given it a slight homepage makeover and expanded it with new categories for suggested topics like “Blogging” and “Outdoor & Garden” thanks to user feedback.
Most Old School: The yellow tile in our guest bathroom, which we were able to embrace thanks to new art, accessories, and a freshly painted mirror.
Most Helpful: The free pergola plan from Workbench magazine that we discovered online, which is what gave us the confidence to tackle the pergola project we had long dreamed about.
Most Improved: Our carport, after completing the pergola (aka “cargola”) that gave it some much needed architectural interest.
Most Commented: The announcement that we purchased a new home. It quickly became our most commented non-giveaway post at nearly 3,000 comments, surpassing the previous record holder (Clara’s Birth Story) by about 600. Your enthusiasm and excitement for our new place both humbles and hypes us up. Let’s do this!
What did you guys cross off the list in April? Can you even remember?
If we’ve made one thing clear about our new house, it’s that we’re not crazy about the trim colors…
Somewhere between the Williamsburg Blue and the Muddy Mauve, our painting hands began to quiver with excitement. Or was that dread? Not sure.
We reasoned that while all of the carpet was up and before the new hardwoods went down, we should take advantage of the can-get-painted subfloor and go ahead and tackle the upstairs trim. Correction: trim and doors. Sixteen doors to be exact… which we removed and de-hardwared first for easy painting.
Attempting to quickly paint four bedrooms and closets worth of trim along with a long hallway plus nine windows (with tons o’ mullions) and the aforementioned sixteen doors seemed like a job that warranted a paint sprayer. So we decided it was finally time to get one. And thanks to a suggestion from the Bowers, we picked up this Graco TrueCoat II which was on sale for $180 at Lowe’s. We opted to buy one instead of renting it because there’s still plenty of stuff to paint in this house beyond just these things – so we’d like to have one that we can use a bunch of times as we move from room to room (did we mention there’s still a ton of blue trim downstairs?).
The sprayer is a lot simpler than I expected. It’s pretty much just a plastic cup attached to the gun, which just plugs in. So there wasn’t much in the means of set-up (although we definitely read the directions twice just to make sure we didn’t screw it up). Then we dove into our primer coat.
We’ve heard that the biggest pain of owning a paint sprayer is clean up, so we opted to use a provided bag in the paint cup to keep it clean and hopefully eliminate one step afterwards.
We don’t have a ton of pictures of the process because one of us was downstairs with Clara while the other sprayed. And also, the process was pretty darn fast. We could zip along the baseboards of one room in about 10 to 15 minutes, and the majority of that time was usually spent refilling the paint cup.
So I definitely agree with what everyone had told me about spraying: it’s MUCH faster, but you use a lot more paint. I could only get through about two door sides before having to refill my paint cup. But boy was it satisfying to watch that blue paint disappear with each swipe. And it’s not that you’re wasting paint, it’s just that you’re getting more coverage (spraying the front of a door once might take twice as much paint, but it’s akin to two coats applied with a brush).
Once we feel a bit more seasoned with the sprayer we’ll do a deeper post about using it, but for now I feel like we’re still getting the hang of it. Our biggest challenge is fighting the urge to go back and “touch up” a spot we missed because we found it’s very easy to apply too much paint and create drips.
But if you go slowly and resist the urge to double spray, the smooth factory-like finish is amazing.
We made the call to paint the windows by hand rather than attempt to get every nook and cranny of it sprayed (we pictured a ton of rogue drips and a bunch of overspray covering all of the glass panes). After the fact, we’re not so sure it was the right call since our hand technique will still require some glass scraping with a razor and all of the blue/mauve windows took one coat of primer plus 3 coats of paint each since we were doing them by hand. Woof.
So yeah, this has pretty much been keeping us busy for the last few days. Spraying only occupied two mornings (priming one, painting the next) but we’ve made several trips to hand paint the windows and other areas that we couldn’t spray easily. I’ve lost track of which trip these photos were taken, but you can see what a difference it’s making.
We didn’t bother to tape off the walls or floors or anything around the sprayed areas (except for some too-close-for-comfort outlets and vents). So it means the walls are in desperate need of painting now too, but that’s a project for another day.
Some rooms, like the guest room and our master, only had cream trim/doors so they didn’t require any primer. Which meant this whole paint job only took 2 gallons of primer. Not bad for four rooms, four closets, nine windows, sixteen doors, and a giant hallway (about 30% of those had cream paint).
But we needed 4.5 gallons of white paint. Had we been able to predict that we’d have bought one of those five gallon buckets at the start, rather than making the multiple trips to the store we’ve been making. Live and learn, right?
The paint we’re using is Benjamin Moore’s Ultra Spec in Simply White (in a semi-gloss finish) based on a few recommendations for that type of paint from you guys. It’s No-VOC contractor-grade paint that’s more affordable than BM’s Natura paint that we usually use and so far we’re really happy with it. Instead of being over $50 per gallon, it’s just $36 through our local paint store (I’m sure it varies by location, but it should be in that range), which has certainly made buying five gallons of it a little less painful.
Oh and as for choosing the color, we brought home about ten swatches of white and just picked the one that looked the best when we taped it up next to all of the others (some were too yellow, some were too blue, but Simply White looked clear and crisp without feeling too warm or too cool). Of course it’ll look a whole lot better after we paint those yellowed walls and ceilings…
Our total budget for four rooms and four closets worth of trim/baseboards plus nine windows, sixteen doors, and a giant hallway has been:
- Paint sprayer: $180
- Primer, 2 gallons: $36 (on sale)
- Paint, 5 gallons: $180 (we still have half a gallon leftover for a future project)
- TOTAL: $396
It’s certainly more than we envisioned spending, but because we’re on a time crunch to get the new floors in before we move, we’re counting our lucky stars that painting so many things went as quickly as it did. And now that we own the paint sprayer it’ll probably will work out to around ten cents per use by the time we’re done painting this house (so. much. blue. trim.).
Next step is to rehang all of the doors (after we replace some of the old pitted brass hardware) and then we can get to laying those hardwoods. We contemplated getting some other painting done while the subfloor is still exposed – walls, ceilings, closet interiors – but we’re starting to feel that move date creep up on us (T minus 2 weeks!). We figure we can move in with unpainted walls and ceilings more easily than moving in without completed floors – and thankfully we’re no strangers to painting walls and ceilings with hardwoods that are already in place.
So that’s what we’ve been up to. How about you?
Who smells smoke? Don’t panic, that’s just Clara’s dragon party, rollin’ into town (er, the internet?). Note: you can’t really smell this party through your computer, so if you smell smoke, please look into it. This year’s party was lower key than our last two (here’s her first birthday party, and her worm party from last year) and even though it was rainy and wet outside, eight kiddos and twelve adults jammed out inside. It was fun. And Clara made me cry. She’s just so big and sweet and hilarious and I’m the luckiest mom in the world.
Plus, dragons. I mean if that’s not a trump card for a party, I’m not sure what is. After she picked worms for her party last year I wasn’t sure it got more fun than that, but when she told us she wanted dragons this year, well, we laughed and jumped right in. She even told the doctor at her three year appointment that dragons were coming to her party and I’m pretty sure he was hedging for an invite after she name dropped winged-fire-breathing-creatures.
Look at this kid of mine, holding her cousin’s hand and dragging him into the sunroom for pizza. A second after I snapped this shot, she turned to Emanuel and said “be happy! there’s pizza!”
My favorite part of the whole day was this little painting of fire that I made on foam core and taped to the wall at kid-mouth-height. Everyone could be a dragon and we snapped lots of photos of all the kids having fun with it.
Burger even got in on the action…
Some adults posed for a few pretty hilarious photos too (turns out kid mouth height is adult bum height so you can guess where I’m going).
Here’s the sunroom all decked out. No balloons and streamers this year, just a few packs of paper lanterns from the dollar spot at Target (they sell them in sets of 2 & 3). The paper tablecloth is also from Target (is has some pretty dragon-ish consummate Vs) which is also where we grabbed the plates and napkins. Then we just ordered pizza, heated up some dragon-shaped chicken nuggets (aka: dragon nuggets), sliced up some vegetables, and tossed some chips and popcorn into a few bowls.
Oh and the table is the one from the deck. We just dragged it into the sunroom and wiped it down (dang rain!) and it was all good.
Who knew sliced peppers could look so fire-like, eh? John. John knew. Apparently guys + fire = besties. And of course we had the castles that Clara painted in the background with little rubber dragons on them (snagged at Michael’s in a few tubes of 8, so they also ended up in the kids’ favors). And those flame-like sunflowers were a few bucks at Kroger (that’s a local grocery store for the non-locals). How awesome are they?! They’re like fire on a stick.
We kept the food super simple. In fact, except for baking some cookies with the birthday girl herself, we didn’t cook a thing. We really just wanted this to be an easy and casual gathering, so we didn’t go crazy cooking or decorating. Plus it’s a fun challenge to look at “party food” like chips, jelly beans, and popcorn to see if we could somehow make it dragon-ish. Here’s what we came up with:
We also played up the hot/fire-breathing thing and had some Hot Tamales and FireBalls (clearly labeled so no kiddos accidentally ate them and blew smoke out of their ears). They were a big hit with the grown ups. Meanwhile the kids rocked out with the rock candy. I thought they were fire-ish so I grabbed them at the register at Michaels (hello impulse buy).
Gratuitous sunflower shot. I love them. I hope they last a good long time so I can soak them up through the move (I’m the girl who will hold this vase on her lap in the car on moving day so they make it to the new house).
Clara’s favorites were the lanterns. She thought they were balloons and even said “I’m sad they’re going to get small” and I said “Yay! They’re paper lanterns! We can use them for every birthday for ever and ever!” Cheered her right up.
On the other side of the sunroom we temporarily removed the bike art (it was John’s idea… I couldn’t believe it!) to make a little drink station out of the expedit bookcase with Clara’s monthly photos taped up on the wall between some fire-ish bursts of tissue paper.
That’s also where I stuck the favors, which are always my favorite thing to throw together. This year I found some red tins at the dollar store that I filled with tissue paper that I cut to look like fire.
They were each filled with a pair of dragon socks that I found at Target for 99 cents, a pack of crayons, a glowing bracelet, a dollar store pinwheel (they were 3/$1) and a few of the aforementioned plastic dragons from Michael’s that also graced Clara’s painted castles on the table.
In the drink tin we had red and yellow Izze bottles for the grown ups (along with bottled water, juice boxes, and a few other beverage choices in a cooler nearby).
As for how I made the tissue paper poofs on the wall, I just smooshed them up and used one staple to hold them together in the back. One loop of painter’s tape held each of them in place between the Clara pics on the wall.
I also used a sharpie to draw a bunch of dragons on card stock and set them out on the coffee table in the sunroom with a bowl full of crayons.
Oh and we dragged out Clara’s train board, which ended up being a fun little kid zone while the parents chatted each other up.
We had planned on an outdoor “dragon egg hunt” (with a bunch of on-clearance plastic eggs that we got at Target after Easter with a few jelly beans in each one) but since it was too wet outside we hid them all over the dining room and the office. It was pretty cute watching the kids run around and grab as many as they could – especially when they were in such strange spots like under the chair cushions, behind the curtains, and even on our favorite concrete pet’s head…
As for desserts, we ordered 10 dragon cookies from Snickety Snacks (they’re like works of art – and they taste amazing!) along with making some homemade white chocolate chip cookies with Clara (we stamped them with “dinosaur footprints” right after they came out of the oven).
The cupcakes are local favorites from the grocery store (Ukrops) and I made those spikes in about ten minutes by cutting up airheads (yes, those crazy candies that look like long flat tongues). I just used a knife to cut them down the center to make two skinny strips and then cut little triangles from each row and shoved four of them into each cupcake in a spiny little line.
This picture is a small miracle. How I got the cookie in focus and caught her looking up at me, I’ll never know. Oh beansie, this makes me want to cry. How’d you get so big?!
As is the tradition, we did our best to grab a family photo. This was the best we could do, but I’ll take it.
When three of us were walking around wearing similar striped shirts, we had to snap a shot of that too. We’re practically triplets.
We also made a little Clara video like we did last year and the year before – not to show at the party, just to have so we can look back on it (and watch it with Clara, since she loves dancing along to the other two that we’ve made). So here’s her last year in less than eight minutes. My favorite parts are when she says “daddy, can I have a wipe please?” and proceeds to change Gee’s imaginary diaper. And all of the dancing parts are pretty cute too…
So Clara’s three and her dragon party was a fire-breathing good time. I can’t wait to see what she picks next year. Chickens? Ninjas? A Burger theme? Time will tell…