Welcome To Our Little Big House On The Prairie

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mirror, mirror...

Not on the wall yet, but it will be...  eventually.  ;)

Some of you might remember this really gold mirror that I picked up from the "Mart of Doom" back in December:

Although it is plastic, it was a steal at thirty-five dollars.

But it needed a little work.

So, I took some homemade chalk paint to her:

I liked her just plain white, but I really wanted to make those details pop.  So, I broke out the technique glaze.

When I first started upcycling and making over furniture, I would read all these bloggers talking about glazing.  Kind of like how they talk about ASCP -  It took me FOREVER to put Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and ASCP together.  Hey, I'm blond.  What can I say?

Anyhoo...  I had no clue who, what, when, where, why, or how to glaze.  So, for those of you who are newbies, here's a few quick instructions on how to glaze.  I'm not sure if its the "right" way or not, but its "my" way and I've never had any issues with it.  So, here goes...

For those of you who have never used technique glaze, its a great alternative to age furniture, or in this case - a mirror.  Or, it can really make detailing stand out.  Sometimes I use wax, but I wasn't liking the idea of having to dig chunks of wax out of all the crevices.  I really need to get one of those nifty brushes.  Sorry, ADD moment...  So, that's why I went with the glaze.

Its pretty simple.  Trust me.  If it wasn't, I wouldn't do it.  ;)  I basically mix about a cup of technique glaze to an ounce of colored paint.  You can glaze with any color your little heart desires, so its a fun alternative to plain light or dark wax.

I really wanted to go with a gray glaze, but it was too light.  So, I mixed in some brown paint with the gray paint and glaze.  Its always good to do a small area first, just to make sure you like how it's looking.

The first thing you're going to do is put it on with a brush.  There's no special way, just slap it on there.  I used a craft brush, just because I really wanted to control the size of the space I was glazing.

The big thing with glaze is, you don't want to do too big of an area at once on a piece that has as much detail as this mirror does.  You will run the risk of the glaze partially drying before you have a chance to wipe it off.

Now, you're not going to wipe all of it off.  You need to just wipe it gently.  Technically, I usually use a cotton t-shirt, but I was too lazy to find one to cut up (and Scott is running out of old shirts and is going to start to notice), so I just used a dish cloth.  Some people recommend dampening the cloth you're using, but personally I don't feel like it gives me as much control over how much I'm removing.  That's my personal preference though.

Gently wipe in the direction of the pattern, being sure to leave some residue behind.

Next, because of all the different grooves and crevices, I took a Q-tip to it.  Are there never ending uses to a Q-tip or what?  LOL

I just cleaned around inside of all the crevices where the glaze had really pooled.  Tedious?  Yes.  Monotonous?  Yes.  But necessary. You don't want it to look all gunked up.  In my world, "gunked" is a word.  ;)

Here, you can see the difference between glazed and unglazed:

Left Side:  Glazed
Right Side:  Unglazed

And the final result is a piece that has been freshly painted, but looks ages old.  And the detailing is so much more defined than it would have been if I had left it pure white.  And sooooo much better than that gaudy gold. (No offense to peeps that might like gaudy gold.  :P )

A quick before:

Gaudy Gold

Antiqued White

And so much more fun than painting on the furniture or walls.

I'm such an instant gratification lush.  ;)

And I cannot wait to hang this on the wall in the dining room...  whenever that may be.  HA.

But, at least I did get something done that was worth blogging about.  LOL

And just so you know I'm actually working on some stuff, here's a sneak peek of the dining room table:

She's finally done, but I'm still working on the chairs.  I'm not sure what's up with the wonky colors of the blue in this photo, but I can assure you that she's a gorgeous distressed one tone blue.  ;)

So, now you know what I'm working on tomorrow...  The chairs.

Until then y'all...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting The Yard Ready For Spring

Well, it looks like an early spring for us in Iowa.  There's been a couple of times this past week that I've had to pinch myself and not think that I'm in North Carolina.  Highs in the upper 70s and mid 80s in March?  In Iowa?  No way.

Of course with the onset of spring, Scott gets an itch to do something with the yard, so yesterday he spent the day dethatching the lawn.  It was kind of fun for me, because this year he had Greyson help him run the garden tractor while he mowed and vacuumed.

I kind of freaked out when I came home from making a run to the store and saw Greyson driving.  I have to constantly remind myself that he is 13 and a boy and should be learning all this stuff.  I'm just always afraid he's going to hurt himself, run over someone, or run into something.  I'm such a mom.  LOL!  But he did so good!  And he was really proud of himself...  Doing such a "manly" thing.  Its amazing how small things give children such pride in themselves.  I'm glad I didn't make him get off.  :)

Scott is kind of a freak about the yard.  Last year, he and a friend rented a compactor to try to compact all the bumps.  It kind of worked.  Now, its become a yearly thing to dethatch and vacuum.  Luckily, one of Scott's good friends owns a lawn care service and he lets us use his equipment.  Thanks, Ryne!

Dethatching is great for your lawn.  If you have tried seeding and fertilizing without results, you may want to try dethatching.  The thatch layer is the bottom layer of roots, crowns, and grass clippings that accumulates over time at the soil layer.  Some thatch is a good thing because it acts as an insulator and moisture retainer, but over time a deep layer of thatch can prevent grass from getting proper nutrients from rain and oxygen, which hurts its ability to fight off disease and dehydration.  We dethatch every spring, which gives the grass time to recover before summer.  You could also do it in the fall.

Its amazing the difference it makes.

Here, Scott is vacuuming up the thatch.
Look how green the grass looks!
All that was hidden under dead winter grass and leaves.
This is how our lawn looks in the summer...

Of course, a huge part of that is this great black, nutrient-rich Iowa soil, but we do fertilize and overseed in the Spring as well.

Since I actually walked away from the dining room for a little while yesterday, I was amazed at all the early signs of Spring we are seeing here.

My hosta are poking up...

My rose bush has fresh shoots...

And I even found a bunch of lady bugs!

Weirder and weirder.  It might actually feel like Easter on Easter this year.  I saw daffodils blooming in town yesterday and we usually don't see those until the end of April!

And of course, the kids are loving it...

Landon TOTALLY needs a haircut.
I'm really not even sure how Eva got up there.
Funnily enough, it was Scott, the tree guy,
that freaked out about her being up that high.  LOL!
And needless to say, they totally needed baths...

Eva's sporting a dirt uni-brow.  LOL!
It was a fantastic day.  And what better way to end it, than a beautiful sunset...

I am so glad Spring is finally here!  How bout you?  ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wainscoting Woes

It seems like with every project in this house that we attempt, there's always some kind of woe involved.

"Woe is me!"


Yesterday, I got so super excited when Scott walked in the door at 4:30 p.m. (which is waaaaay early in the day for him to be home) with a caulk gun in his hand and asked, "Are you ready to get to work?"


He didn't have to ask twice, I was off the couch in a jiffy...  House Hunters was ridiculous anyway.  Who in their right mind would pay $500,000 for a 10 week time share???  (Obviously someone with A LOT more money than me!)

So, we got to work...

Love the smell of fresh cut wood!

After getting the first piece of floor trim cut and in place, Scott wanted to check out how the wainscoting would work.

Yeah.  It didn't.

He didn't like the flat side.

And I didn't like the work involved with the bead board side.


And why is it that we're still married after nearly 14 years?


Well, that and with 5 children, the business, and the house, divorce is simply too much of a headache.  Its just easier to meet in the middle somewhere.  ;) (That's Laura humor right there.  HA!)

So, I dragged him over to the computer and sat him down in the chair and showed him this...

Sawdust and Embryos

and this...

Thrifty Decor Chick

and this.

Hooked on Houses

And that wall color is the almost exact color of our dining room, so that was a GREAT one to show him.

So, that's what we've decided on doing:  Board and Batten

Great compromise.

And I think, will look much better especially with the wood work beside the stairs.

Notice anything different?
Yep.  I primered part of the stairwell.  :)

And for all you white lovers out there, 
that's going to be a WHOLE lotta white!

Unfortunately, doing that means I have to wait.  You know, for Scott to do some jobs and start getting some money rolling in.  Its been a loooooong winter around here.  The temps have been so mild that we haven't sold a quarter as much firewood, as we normally do.  And with only three pushable snows, we haven't had any income from snow removals either.  The only thing that has kept us going this summer is selling hay.  It has NOT been a fun winter!  And then there's those pesky bills that have to be paid...  Business loans and a house payment and telephone and cell phone and electricity and cable...  Did I mention its been a looooong winter?  So wait, I must.  He says two weeks at the most, since he already has work lined up.  I can work with that.


In the meantime, I'm going to work on the furniture that's going in the dining room.  Its time to break some paint out.  And with the lovely 70 degree temperatures forecasted for the next week, I can really get the ball rolling.

Goal:  Have all the furniture completed, so that by the time we get the board and batten up and painted, I can just move everything straight in.  And then, it will be D-O-N-E.  Finally.

Oh the joys of doing nothing on credit, 
but only when we can afford it.

And then I can start on the living room.


Here's hoping y'all all have a fantastic day...  And if you live in Iowa, open up those windows peeps!  Its going to be gorgeous day, dah-ling.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Iowa?

When Scott and I announced that we were moving to his home state of Iowa back in 2006, everyone thought we were nuts.  "What's in Iowa?"  we heard.  Or, "There's nothing in Iowa!"  My personal favorite:  "Y'all are nuts."

Yes, we were leaving a 2 hour drive away from this:

And the kids wouldn't be able to do this every weekend, like they were used to:

But the move just felt right.  Scott's parents were getting older and Scott was concerned about the farm falling into disrepair.  His mother had been in and out of the hospital.  It was just the right thing to do.

Last summer, I really looked around and realized that I was finally glad that we had moved here.  Not only do we live in a fantastic school district, but I love the wide-open spaces, the lack of traffic, and the kids growing up in a small town environment...  Even if I do miss the shopping that Raleigh offered.  :)

This morning, waking up to somewhat balmy temperatures for an Iowa March, really makes me long for summer and for the time we can get outside and enjoy our yard.  So, I thought I would share some pictures with you of our home outside and a small peek at what living in Iowa is like.

Our house sits on just under 4.5 acres...  Small by Iowa standards, but ginormous for peeps that live on .3 acres or less.

This is what we have to look forward to this summer:

Enjoying the outdoors...  Even if it means mowing a lot of grass.  Personally, I like mowing.  And even with a zero-turn with a 40 inch deck, it takes about 2.5 hours to mow our grass.  And grass in Iowa grows FAST.  We mow once a week during the peak season - our yard and Scott's parent's yard, which has another mowable 5 acres on their 80 acre farm.

I love breathing in the fresh air...

and the smell of lilacs from this ancient bush.

The kids have plenty of space to run and play...

and I love not having any traffic on our gravel roads.  It took a while to get used to how quiet it is, although I still have to have a fan on when I sleep.  Its just too quiet.  :)

The boys are getting to age where they don't like living out in the country and would rather live in town where they can hang out with their friends.  I can remember feeling that way too, but when I got older, I was glad that we lived out in the boonies.  Hopefully, they realize how blessed they are that they can do this:

Taking the four wheeler for a spin.

and this...

Running free.

and this...

A baby bird that hadn't figured out how to fly yet and fell out of its nest.

and this.

Ian hunting rabbits with an air rifle.
Yes, there are drawbacks...  It takes 20 minutes to get to a grocery store and 40 minutes to get to the mall.  I think its an even trade off though.

Although there are things out here that freak me out:

Although, everyone out here says hurricanes scare them more.  I'm like, "But you know its coming.  For days.  You can head inland.  Tornadoes strike without warning!"  They just laugh.  I admit we spend a lot of time with our basement door open in the spring and summer.  I don't think I'll ever stop doing that, no matter how long we've lived out here.

And some things that are a pain to deal with, but oh so beautiful...

Winter 2011

Driving on ice and snow covered roads.

Sometimes waiting a day for the snow plows to come by.

Snow drifts taller than I am.

But I don't think I could go back to living in town.  And if given a choice, I don't know that I would move back to North Carolina.  I miss my family, the beach, the awesome food...  But, Iowa is the place for me.  Even if right now, it is somewhat depressing outside:

Because, Friday I saw this:

One of the first robins of Spring.  YAY!
 Which means this...

isn't too much further away.  Thank goodness!

So, although the outside of our house needs as much work as the inside...

The never-ending list of To-Do's:

1) Replace siding.

2) Replace wrap-around porch.

3) Replace steps.

4) Add attached garage.

5) Landscaping.

I know eventually it will be the showplace that it was in 1905.

Until then, I can console myself with this...

and count myself as blessed.