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!