Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Old Rag with New Friends

A couple of weekends ago, we joined a few friends to hike one of my favorites, Old Rag Mountain. It's a great hike, about nine miles total with a 1-mile rock scramble at the peak. It's a challenging and fun hike that took us about 4 hours. 

And we had perfect weather. It was about 60 degrees and sunny. When we reached the top, we spread out in the sunshine and ate our lunches before taking the nice, more relaxing stroll down the other side of the mountain. 

Group selfie!

After the hike, all six of us went to Blue Mountain Brewery for some delicious beer and much needed food. In fact, during the hike, a couple of the guys were so spurred on by the thought of beer and Thai burgers that it became the basis of a hiking chant for a brief moment. 

Mark and Dan after conquering the top of the rock scramble.

Richard and the pack, hiking through and around some of the rock scramble. 

Can you just imagine the colors in fall? The views were breathtaking even without much foliage.

Kicking back and relaxing after lunch

Richard and I hiked Old Rag about three years ago, back when we were dating. We enjoyed the hike that time, too, but this time we were definitely more prepared for it. 

It's probably the most strenuous hike that I've done, but it's certainly one of my favorites and definitely worth visiting. 

The beautiful remnants of the sunset and gorgeous full moon on our way home

Monday, March 24, 2014

Finally Painting!

So, after putting the gallery wall up, I decided it was time to paint the walls. Ever since we've talked about painting, the den and kitchen have been the first priority. We talked about possibly doing two different colors even though there is a continuous wall (with one little ledge kind of thing) between the two rooms. 

On Saturday, we went to Home Depot armed with two lists of "good grays" and about ten other accumulated color swatches. We got five sample pots and learned how different grays can look even from the swatch to pot -- before even putting it on the wall. 

We had planned all along to paint squares of the choices on each wall of the rooms that we planned to paint. One of the grays that we picked was visibly way darker than we wanted, so we didn't even bother putting that one on the walls. 

Of the ones that we did paint sample spots, two of them were immediately ruled out -- one was way too blue and one was way too pale and purple-y. In fact, the blue was ruled out early enough in the process that it didn't even make it as a sample onto most of the walls. 

It wasn't much of a contest between the two remaining choices -- we chose Benjamin Moore's Stonington Gray unanimously (you know, two votes to zero). We really liked how it looked on all of the walls of the living room AND how it looked with the kitchen cabinets and countertops. So we decided on the spot to paint all the way through from the den to the edge of the kitchen. 

We went out to our local Benjamin Moore supplier -- Virginia Paint Company -- to pick up three gallons of the winning paint along with some other needed supplies. 

On Sunday, after we got home from church, we got to work! Richard rolled the paint, and I did most of the cutting in. We started by taping off the baseboards and around the built in shelves, but since they weren't done very well the first time (i.e. bad caulking), none of the lines were terribly clean to begin with. It ended up being easier to forgo the painter's tape and just pay extra close attention. 

We worked quickly, but (I'd like to think) cleanly, and got the first coat on in about an hour or so. Then Richard's friend Brandon came over to help with the second coat while I went for a run. :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Beginnings of the Gallery Wall

We've been in our house for almost a year now, and we had yet to put any but one picture up on the walls. Until a couple of weeks ago. We kept telling ourselves that we would wait until we painted the walls. But picking paint colors and actually painting the walls just kept falling lower and lower on the priority list. 

So, even though our walls were still move-in-ready beige, I decided I wanted to try out a gallery wall. I already had a few frames that I knew I would include, but I also bought five new ones that were on sale at Michael's. And I knew I wanted to include the initial letters (e & r) that Beth got us for Christmas. I pulled all of my frames together and started by laying them out on the floor to find the best arrangement. 

The winning arrangement!

Then I traced each frame onto white craft paper and cut out the correct size and shape. I also drew a pencil mark on the paper in the spot where the nail would need to go. Once I decided on the arrangement that I wanted, I taped each square/rectangle (quadrilateral, I guess) into it's respective spot. I used washi tape since I didn't want to ruin the paint that we didn't want to keep. :)

Then came the easiest part: I hammered a nail right onto each of the little pencil marks on the paper and then just pulled the paper right off. That way, all of the nails were in (approximately) the correct spot for each frame. 

Then I hung the frames in the same layout that I had on the floor. There were some minor adjustments needed, but Richard helped with those since I was losing patience. 

The (mostly) finished product!
The layout is pretty much what I wanted, but most of the frames have filler photos at the moment. The three identical brown frames have pages from Anthropologie catalogs. The two gold frames from Michael's still have the generic pictures that they came with (but I kind of like them for now). And the black frame with the verse (Lamentations 3:22-23) used to have a watercolor painting in it, but it had a horizontal orientation and I needed a vertical frame. So I wrote out the verse on black matboard and switched them out. 

Basically, the only ones that are supposed to be there are the world map, the e & r letters, and the two small brown frames. Those frames have greeting card fronts with Oscar Wilde quotes. Love that guy. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Some previous projects

I have thought about starting a blog for a while, mostly just as a way to track our progress and projects on the house. So I've tried to do a good job of catching before, during, and after photos. Here are a few of the projects that we worked on shortly after moving in.

The Deck

One of the first things that we knew we wanted to change right away was our back deck. In the first picture you can see the original size, the remnants of the brick steps to the laundry room door, and the hideous red color of the deck. We called Richard's cousin who does all kinds of building projects, and he and his business partner were able to demolish the old deck and build the new one in about three days. 

And here you can see the new deck! It's a lot bigger than the previous one and eliminated the need for the brick steps that we didn't like anyway. We also opted to have wide, surrounding steps instead of railing all the way around. We did want to keep some railing though -- in the places where the deck was high enough and also to create a little nook for the grill. 

Isn't he just the cutest? There's the finished deck! Cute little planters, herbs, and all. 

Richard's mom had some deck furniture that she was going to replace, so she gave us her old set, and we love it! Here is (an iPhone) shot of the finished deck with the grill, some furniture, and our favorite summer buddies -- the kayaks. 

The Stairs

The entire upstairs of the house and the den downstairs have some old, beige carpet that we would love to replace when the time and finances are right. In the meantime, the carpet is just fine -- not stained or terribly horrible --  it's just not really our style. 

When we moved in, the same carpet ran down the "middle" of the stairs. The stairs have a partial hand rail, so the carpet could have easily looked crooked, but when we looked closely, we could see that it was actually crooked. 

I would love to be bold enough (and have a husband on-board enough) to do something like this. But that doesn't really fit the more subdued feel of our house, so we more in this direction. I had even already purchased the textured wallpaper that I wanted. 

Richard and I thought that it would be a pretty easy task -- rip the carpet up, remove staples, sand, stain, wallpaper, DONE!

Well, the one step that took far longer and far more sweat than we anticipated was the removing of the staples and nails. I don't know much (read: anything) about carpeting stairs, but it seemed like WAY more staples, nails, and tacks than necessary. 

So after days (or maybe a couple weeks) longer than we anticipated, we finally finished pulling muscles all of the staples out and got the stairs sanded. Richard prepped, stained, and sealed the stair tops, but left the risers since we new those would be wallpapered. 

Then I measured, cut, remeasured, and recut the wallpaper and applied it. That part was actually pretty easy since the wallpaper just involved soaking in water before application with no additional glue or adhesive. 

The Craft Room Shelves

Lastly, Perf built some custom shelves for me! One night, we sat up in the craft room, and while I painted, he measured and designed some shelves. That weekend, he bought the wood, built the shelves, painted them and installed them. What a man!

Look at that organization! And the utter mess that it was a couple weeks after moving in. He really is the best! :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Farmhouse Table

It has been a looooong time since I've had a blog. Like, back to the Xanga days. I've come many years and many miles since then, and hopefully my writing (or blogging?) skills have improved since then. 

This is mainly just for cataloging our house projects as we tackle different ways of adding our own touch to the house we now call home. 

And I guess I'll start it off with a pretty big project: The Farmhouse Table. Ever since we bought our house last March, we have talked about having a big, rustic farmhouse table in the dining room. Richard sourced reclaimed wood from my cousin's land in Farmville (real place, not the -- defunct?-- one on Facebook). He and a friend went out to the land and took down an old shed that my cousins wanted removed, and Richard brought a whole lot of old lumber home with him. 

He dried the wood, choose several pieces that matched, and cut them to size. Then he brought the wood inside to acclimate to the humidity and temperature inside before building the table. 

He worked from a design plan that we came up with together. I told him that I didn't want four legs, I'd rather have a central beam with two legs (I don't think those are technical terms) so that we could have a bench on one side. That way people sitting on the bench wouldn't need to move the entire thing back to get out; they could just slide off one end. 

The table legs -- and some random artwork and posters that haven't found homes yet. 

 That's half of the tabletop assembled with the other half still in board pieces. 

And there is the grand tabletop (the underside of it). It's big. And it's not even finished in this photo. He added a horizontal board to either end to give it a more finished look.