Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween 365

We have had a small flurry of activity here at the house as of late. I got the green light to set up a few projects if I took on the responsibility of setting up the appointments, verifying contractor licenses, etc. myself. I found a great website called that aids in that process. You can list the projects you want done, and then receive responses back from interested contractors. Maybe we just got lucky so far, but have had really good luck identifying guys through this site that are not just good at what they do, but provided straightforward no nonsense pricing, and go a little above and beyond. In talking about the site with people, it has the same feeling when you were letting people know about Pinterest. Everybody I have talked to about it have been looking for an alternative like this, and many get started on their own Thumbtack projects shortly thereafter.

Case in point -- our front door. Remember there was a bit of a debate about buying a new one versus refinishing our old one? In pricing doors I realized one important thing -- they don't make them like they used to. Many new doors are made from composite materials. Solid wood doors are very, very expensive. We had a solid wood door that just needed some TLC. So, I threw the project up on Thumbtack. We received a bid back from a guy whose primary work is fine woodworking. I could tell from his website that he was very detail oriented. He did a GREAT job with the door! I picked out the paint and hardware -- most from Rejuvenation. I am not sure I saved any money versus buying a new door, but felt good to give new life to an original piece of our house.

We went for a modern look. I think I have mentioned before that our house wants to be midcentury modern. There are a few houses in our neighborhood that fit squarely in this category. Our house is more aligned with this style than, say, the traditional and Spanish style houses in our neighborhood, but we will have to do some upgrades to make it look retro cool. Although you would think the bright orange color would add the most drama, the real gasp inducing change is that we took down our security door. About a quarter of the houses in our neighborhood have security doors. I don't think it is as much for security as it is for air flow, as central heat/air was not a standard feature of houses in our neighborhood, and only the few smart ones who have added a/c experience any degree of comfort in our 90 degree + summers. We know we will regret this decision at times, but we do still have the side security door, and we also have a freestanding a/c unit. Style over function. As for security -- I know we live in a neighborhood where unsavory people would be inclined to try the front door to see if it is unlocked, but it is not the type of neighborhood where somebody would, say, kick in the front door to get in. Knock on wood.

Let the light in -- every morning there is a shadow puppet show in the circle of light made from the now unobstructed peephole. It was crazy day at school this day, if you were wondering about Everett's outfit.
Anyway, we are very happy with how the door came out. If we were going to stay, we probably would have added lites to the door. Not sure all future buyers will find an orange door to their liking (it's orange on the inside too, lol), but having a pulled together look goes a long way. Assuming we do get everything pulled together (haha), I think we will attract people who have similar tastes to us. If it is any indication, we receive a flurry of compliments from folks who come to our house for Craigslist purchases and the like about our style (ohh -- I love your doorbell! Did you see their chairs? You have a record collection!) The other projects we undertook this month were way less glamorous -- installing a bathroom exhaust fan, trying to hide our hideous upgraded electric panel, and moving a whole mess of exposed and oddly protruding gas and water pipes. I told BT I needed something visual to set the tone for what we are striving for, and I think the door fit that bill. Glad we found a good person to help out with this project. And look -- he even gave me a pair of earrings he made :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Goodies part 1

We are in deep with Halloween prep this week. Longing for last year's minimally homemade costumes and Trunk or Treat display that was set up for the most part at the school (versus needing a lot of prep ahead of time).

We all have homemade elements to our costumes this year, and BT is going all out making the display for this year's Trunk or Treat event this coming Friday. I have some additional activities this week to do in relation to this event, so we'll be having some late nights at our house this week.

When I get overwhelmed thinking about how to make certain elements of our costumes, I like to work on something easy to get me in the right mindset to tackle a new craft project. I had fun assembling these goodie bags for Everett's school during one of these breaks. The bags are from Daiso. The foam pumpkins and stickers were from 99 Cents Only store. The remaining toys were probably from Hank's 1st birthday party -- just unearthed when I helped my mom put up her Halloween decorations.

I finished the bags, and had a breakthrough on a costume piece I was working on. Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Baby gift 6/7

Winding down on all the baby gifts! Just one left after this one -- the hardest to complete, of course

This gift is for BT's sister. She and her husband have a claim to fame. A couple of years ago, they were on the show Wipeout. At the time, they were parents to 5 kids, but you would never guess that based on their energy and Katie's flat tummy. The show hosts capitalized on their incredible talent for making babies, and donned them with the nickname The Baby Makers. Here is the Wikipedia write up about the episode they were on. They did really well -- like, so well I overheard two conversations involving strangers talking about a couple who kicked ass on Wipeout after the show aired. I proudly interrupted to say that they were my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

This was not Katie and Eric's first time on a game show. Each had previously made it to contestant's row on The Price is Right. I was at the show Katie was on, and she announced her 3rd (I think) pregnancy there. They also were recently on Wheel of Fortune. A dream show they still want to try out for is Shark Tank. You can imagine they have a lot of ideas for baby products raising (now) 6 kids. I had saved the gag box (first picture), purchased at Target after Christmas on clearance, for Katie and Eric. I was having a mental block about what to buy and/or make for them when I ran into Target's current display of products that were featured on the show Shark Tank. There were two baby oriented products -- a sippy cup with a weighted straw and a small lightweight take anywhere blanket. So serendipitous! Wish I could be there when they see the joke box. Hope they make it to Shark Tank one day :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Back to School Get Together

We hosted a little getting to know you party at Chuck E. Cheese for Hank's kindergarten class.

It was fun to decorate the tables with apples and back to school items.

Hank's teacher is subbing for the permanent teacher, who is out on maternity leave. She is very nice and enthusiastic, and Hank likes her a lot. As a sub, she is getting up to speed with all of the extra activities at the school. She let me know that most of the families in the class are new to the school, and that nobody had approached her (except me) to find out about room parent duties.

So -- what does that mean? I don't think I can do all that is required of the room parents at our school, but I can help get info out about extra activities, plan a class holiday party, and put together something nice for Teacher Appreciation Week. And -- I can help the new parents feel more comfortable at the school. We were fortunate last year to have a good percentage of families who are involved with PTA activities in our class, including the PTA president. The PTA folks I have interacted with are all super friendly and down to earth, and always appreciative for anything we participate in -- Trunk or Treat, bake sales, Jog-a-Thon, etc.

11 families showed up, about a third of the class, which was great. It was cool, as even the young, shy moms came up to ask -- how do I get involved at the school? Especially nowadays, it seems we all want to be part of our kids' schooling. People want to feel part of a community, as evidenced by the parents waiting at the gates after school, versus sitting in the car to wait for their kid. There were a good number of families at the get together that use the same after school program as us. We are not often there at the gate, but want to get to know each other, and be a part of things as much as we can. So, yeah -- still not sure the extent of my involvement with the class this year, but now know 11 more families to connect with :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Baby gift 5/7

Another baby gift -- this one for a cousin who is married to a guy who plays in a rock band

The onesie is left over from waaaay back when. It was embellished with an iron-on rhinestone guitar.

The star baby legwarmers were another, more recent dollar store score. The book and pacifier were from the gift bin.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bake sale goodies

The first school bake sale of the year -- I made Frankenstein Rice Krispie treats.

I was told they sold quickly!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Baby gift 4/7

Another baby gift for a cousin's new baby

My cousin, TJ, has to be the biggest Iowa State fan in the country. He keeps us updated via Facebook on every game, every random factoid -- basically everything there is to know about the Cyclones.

The booties took their time to get here. The first pair was stolen off our porch. The second pair made a one month trek around the country, moving further away from California week by week. But, they finally got here, and -- paired with a cute book -- make for a fun gift to welcome the littlest Cyclone fan to her family.