Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Decor

I enjoy spending time decorating the house for holidays, especially Christmas. I hope you don't mind a post where I indulge my urge to show-off a bit. There's always room for improvement, and I'm already logging ideas for how to make Christmas 2015 even prettier. Let me know what you think!
First step:  get a tree!
We found a Frasier Fir that was somewhere between 9 and 10 feet tall at Home Depot. The trailer made it easy to haul home!
Scott put the tree in the stand out on the patio. Bibbers provided moral support, as usual.
Scott carried the tree in and placed it in the northwest corner of the great room. Good job, Scotty!
It took about three seconds for Leo to discover the velvet tree skirt. He just can't resist a soft surface!
I put a decorated garland on the powder room mirror, and hung Scott's old copper bugle over the top. A copy of a vintage photo (Ward Kids, circa 1965) hangs in the frame.
A pre-lit evergreen garland suspended in the colonnade was the perfect spot to hang my collection of kitchen-themed ornaments.
The iron reindeer found a festive home atop the cabinet over the fridge.
Gold wire trees, iron deer, and a red-and-gold table runner dressed the mantel in the library. I always have fun using my old stuff in new combinations.
The newest Christmas craft:  these frames in the hallway
We purchased these frames when we first moved to Omaha. We painted them dark green and speckled purple and white paint on them before adding some watercolor posters. (Hey, it was the late '80s and they were very in style.) After being in storage for a decade or more, I took out the posters and painted over the green and purple with a coat of Black Bean. Scott stapled pieces of chicken wire to the back to create two display boards. The frame on the left holds the Christmas cards we received. The frame on the right holds photos of our past Christmases - one picture from each year. This project looks great in an otherwise empty hallway!
I wired faux evergreen garland to the staircase in the connector, adding red ribbon and plaid bows. I think it looked great but Scott raised an eyebrow. . .why would I feel the need to decorate his already-awesome staircase?
The mantel over the great room fireplace is still missing its wood shelf but it looks pretty with garland, candlesticks and our stockings. We've enjoyed a few cozy fires this holiday season.
We Hope You Enjoyed Your Christmas!

Cookie Baking Season

The joy of Christmas baking at noTTafarm was spread out over the month of December. It was a win-win situation:  I got to spend time with some awesome ladies and the house smelled like cookies for weeks!
On the first Sunday of December, my true love sent to me:  
Two Brummet Ladies! 
Brenna and Amy rolled, cut-out, baked, and frosted a batch of sugar cookies. Brenna did a great job this year - even if she had sugar from her fingertips to her elbows. They were planning on sharing cookies with Daddy and Tripp, their neighbors, and their extended family. 
Such Cuties!
On the second Sunday of December, my true love sent to me:
Two Koehler Ladies!
Meredith and Leigh Anne continued our annual baking tradition (LA and I have been frosting sugar cookies together for at least 20 years!) Meredith got to pick the frosting colors and was our art director. She is developing some very good piping skills!
Meredith loves cats, and had fun with my camera - and Wilson! They gave me this sweet little plaque that reads, "all you need is love. . .and a cat" - so true!
On the day before Christmas, my true love sent to me:
One New Niece! 
Kathleen came over to learn how to make a Camp Family favorite: Kahlua Wafers. These buttery, coffee-flavored treats are baked then dipped in melted chocolate. Kathleen did a very meticulous job of rolling out the dough to just the right thickness, cutting the shapes with precision, and placing them delicately on the baking sheets (very unlike my bull-in-a-china-shop approach to baking.) 
Never satisfied with the status-quo, Kathleen suggested piping green and red frosting on the baked-and-dipped cookies for a little extra holiday drama. The cookies were delicious and beautiful!

I wonder how many of these lovely ladies would enjoy making Valentine's Day cookies? You'll have to check back in mid-February!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Cross it off the List: Shelves are Done!

Just like at your house, noTTafarm's December has been filled by a flurry of holiday activities. Above the holiday din, however, Scott managed to find time to complete our kitchen shelving project. The end result is even better than we imagined!

After considering all sorts of options, stair treads were selected as the final shelf material.
Scott found the 1-1/16" thick, solid red oak treads at Builder's Supply, and trimmed their 60" width down to a final size of 55". The bull nose edge gave an already-finished appearance to the front-facing elevation.
Trimming to the proper width
Dry Run Fitting
Just to make sure the width was right, Scott placed the three unfinished shelves on the brackets.
Scott used dark espresso-colored stain which was leftover from the kitchen and bathroom cabinet finishing. Using this particular stain was tricky. When he applied the wipe-on poly, some stain was lifted off. Scott ended up sanding everything down, and starting over. The second attempt went better after allowing more drying time for the stain, and using spray-on, quick-drying matte lacquer for the finish.
Ta Da!
Once in place (finally, on Christmas Eve morning) we loaded the shelves with Fiesta. The top shelf is too high for daily use but is a wonderful place for displaying oversized pieces.

When Scott first described his idea for the shelving design, I was worried that they wouldn't be strong enough for a large collection of (breakable) dishware. I am happy to report that these steel-and-oak shelves are not only gorgeous but are (as Scott describes) strong enough to hold three cars. However, I think we'll keep them in the garage for now.

What should we do next? I'm giving Scott a few days off then we have to tackle some master bathroom touch-ups.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

99% Done: Kitchen Shelving Project

After a wait of over a year followed by a 6-week work effort, I'm excited to report that the kitchen shelving project is nearly complete! Scott has done a great job, and has designed and fabricated a system that is not only stylish but also massively strong. I'm am quite confident that my Fiesta will be safe and secure in its new home. Here's how it all came together:
The shelf brackets are six pairs of cut and shaped 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 angle iron. This was a noisy and time-intensive process! Scott let the sparks fly with his angle grinder doing the tough work.
Each pair of brackets was secured in place with clamps and leveled with the magnetic torpedo level. Scott then had to drill holes through four layers of steel before securing with a nut and bolt.
The brackets were placed approximately 12" apart. The top shelf will be pretty high but will make a wonderful display area for special pieces.
After the first bracket was in place (note the "acorn" nuts at right), Scott couldn't resist placing two dinner plates.
Once all six brackets were installed, Scott knew that all the hardest work was behind him!
Scott found a 12"-wide oak board in the basement and sliced it in two to create temporary shelves. We loaded them up with a selection of dishes Saturday evening. The oak didn't sag and the steel performed to perfection!
Sunday, the task of installing the poly-carbonate panels began with even more drilling! Scott pre-drilled a series of six holes per three panels through the vertical supports.
Following the style of the adjacent stair system, Scott left a 2.5" gap between the steel surround and the top & bottom of the panels. He used wood blocks and clamps to keep the panels in place while he attached them.
Isn't this amazing? I can't believe how great it looks from the hallway.
Here's the "finished" project from inside the kitchen. We've been tossing around different shelving ideas - anything from lumber we had milled last year (too thick) to glass (too modern) to plate steel (too metal-y) - we are currently leaning toward 3/4"-thick x 12"-wide oak which we could stain to match the kitchen cabinetry. The final width of each of the three shelves will be 54 inches (slightly wider than the prototype shelves shown.)
Just for fun, we loaded just about all of our Fiesta onto these temporary shelves. There's actually room to spare! This project has turned out exactly as promised - and I am so very pleased with the result. Another awesome Scotty project!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Auxiliary Pantry Complete!

Now that the fun task of filling the shelves with goodies is done, my little pantry project can be deemed a success! It was pretty easy and I was able to complete it without having to call in The Boss - so that is quite an achievement. Check out the details:
This roll of rubber flooring was only $9.98 at Menard's. After a little bit of trimming, the pantry has a nice floor covering!
The little shelf that was originally in the space was scooted into the corner. I may end up re-painting it but for now all I did was wipe it down and vacuum off the spiders.
I assembled two more 36"-wide chrome shelves for a total of three. In order to prevent small items from falling through, I cut the boxes into sheets to create solid surfaces for the wire shelves.
The milk crates were left here by the wedding caterer, so I stacked them and created some little cubbies. 

Having this space cleaned and organized has freed-up space in the kitchen pantry. The best part is that I have room in both pantries for more stuff - just in time for Christmas!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Water Woes

Last Tuesday (November 11), I stopped at the end of the driveway to read the water meter in time to mail our monthly check to the NRD. Since I'm too stubborn to get my eyes checked, I snapped a photo of the meter in order to magnify the numbers and record our water usage. Imagine my confusion, however, when I realized the number at the left . . .which rarely changes....had rolled over from 1 to 2....meaning we  used over 112,000 gallons of water in a month!
The previous month's reading was around 155,000 so we were responsible for figuring out what happened. Scott's immediate response was to call the NRD and have the water turned off which seemed prudent until we thought, "now what?" After an unsuccessful afternoon of looking for a trenching company to help us out of the situation, we spent the night with Mom and Dad Camp. It was the best part of our otherwise cold, crummy day! (Thanks, Mama and Dad for the hospitality!)

The following day, Scott continued the search for a plumber or trencher to find and fix the leak. He hit many roadblocks from people that didn't have time to people that wouldn't call him back. We had our fingers crossed that the water line's original installer, Midland Trenching, would be able to zoom right over. Sadly, Steve reported that his new tractor was in the shop and he didn't expect it back before the end of the week. On top of that, all of us were concerned about the frigid temperatures that enveloped the entire country in a pre-winter fit of fury. My bright idea was finally adopted by the boss:  turn the water off and on at the meter twice a day for showers and clean-up. This way, we could stay in our own house and just suffer the inconvenience of drinking bottled water and flushing the potties with buckets of water.
Scott was a real trouper! He didn't complain about meter duty, rising each day at 6:15 to trudge outside to turn on the water, then turn it off when he left for work, then turn it on so we could cook dinner, then turn around and go back outside in the cold, dark night to turn it off. He did this every day for 6 days.

Finally on Tuesday, November 18, Steve was able to bring his tractor and crew to noTTafarm and to our rescue. After a fruitless morning of digging, the culprit was finally located just after lunch.
By the time we got home from work, all was right with the world!

Now all we have to do is wait for the bill. 

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kitchen Shelving Progress Report

Despite my lack of blog updates, Scott has been making slow but steady progress on the kitchen shelving project. With a practically-free weekend, he was able to devote quite a bit of effort. Check it out!
The first step was to remove the outside frame pieces. Wait, what? That's right . . . he took them down so they could be trimmed to the precise size, polished, and poly-coated.
I never think the poly is necessary until I see the finished product. Steel is even more striking when you give it a just a little love!
The two pairs of vertical supports were put into position with clamps while Scott determined they're final resting spot. He finally settled on having them 32 inches apart.
The rubber mallet came in handy to knock the supports into a level position.
Next, each support had to be bolted in place meaning Scott had to drill eight holes through two layers of steel.
How many tools do you need to do this job? Quite a few (including some new clamps he just had to have.)
By the end of the day, the big vertical supports are secured in place. Smaller steel angles will be used for the remaining supports and shelf brackets so they should be a little easier to maneuver.
Stay Tuned for More Progress!

Auxiliary Pantry Project Underway

I finally decided today was the perfect day to begin my auxiliary pantry project. The little room under the 1972 stoop is barely 5' x 7' but is the perfect spot for additional storage. One coat of paint went up today, and I'm motivated to install a floating floor and assemble the shelves before the week is done. Stop by next Sunday to see if I succeeded! Here's a peek at the progress so far:
As you can imagine, since the room is so small, it is difficult to take a photo that could encompass the whole space. The "before" room features a gray painted floor, white cinder block walls, and a pink insulation ceiling. (Scott wants to add another layer of insulation and maybe some cement board.) The finished pantry will have three of the chrome shelves pictured. I plan on storing party supplies, seasonal serving pieces, and overflow home decor items.
The gallon of SW-7747 "Recycled Glass" I used was leftover from the upstairs pantry project. In fact, the label on the can showed a purchase date of November 18, 2012; can it really have been nearly two years ago that I painted the pantry?
By 6 o'clock, I had the walls painted. They're not perfect but they do look fresh and clean. It felt so good to get a project underway!
Stay Tuned for More Progress!