Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Did you have a good Christmas? We did. As a mom, I think I get more excited for the girls than I do for myself. 

The night before, we did our traditional Christmas Eve stuff. The girls opened a present (new pajamas), we made some hot chocolate, and then drove around and looked at Christmas lights. 

I've said it before, but I freaking love our neighborhood. At one house, there was a man and woman, dressed up as Mr and Mrs Claus, passing out homemade cookies. And at another house in the neighborhood, starting at Thanksgiving there is a mailbox for Santa, where you can drop off your letters to him. 

Santa will then write you back and drop it off in your mailbox. I love that each girl got a different letter, so it felt really personal. 

Christmas day started off with the girls opening up their stockings, and then moving on to their presents. The older girls are getting to the age where they love clothes, so it was fun seeing them try on their new clothes. 

Yup, she picked out that hat. Homegirl likes bright colors. 

Ava got a new hat too (I love owls!) and a new CD player, since she decided to break hers two days before Christmas. 

I had an awesome Christmas. A new fixed lens for my Nikon (a 50mm 1.8), a crap ton of gift cards to Home Goods, some new Doc Martens, and a Silhouette Cameo!

And somehow we ended up with a white Christmas in Texas! My girls lasted all of 20 minutes before they were whining to come back in.

The funny thing is that when the girls opened their new hats, my father in law was wondering when they would be able to actually wear them (heck, we were in the 70's a week ago) but they certainly came in handy today. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fireplace mantle make over

Yes! Finally a post from yours truly. No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Just keeping busy with a 2 month who the past couple of days, has decided that the only way she can sleep is in my arms. 

Recently, I found a website called, which I love. There is a section called Design Dilemma, where you can post a picture or question about your house, and designers will weigh in with their suggestions. 

I've always had problems with my mantle decor. Like, I've never been able to figure it out. There are so many beautiful mantle decor pictures on Pinterest, and still, mine just looks like a catch all for whatever home decor crap I shove up there. 

This is it at its best. Lame and usually littered with toys which I shoved out of the way cleaned up. 

So I posted my question on Houzz, and they all said the same thing. The mantle is too small and the wrong style for all the stone. I noticed on Pinterest, that whenever someone had a huge fireplace with a crap ton of stone, they all had a simple beam mantle. Found this blog post on pinterest, showed it to hubby, and he loved it. I was never able to find the thin veneer that she used, and the guy at Home Depot didn't know what it was, so I skipped that part. 

Now, apparently I've forgotten how to blog, since I didn't take half of the pics that I wanted. Lame, right?

First thing we did was pull down the top trim piece, which made a HUGE difference. Hubby and I have always hated it, but never thought to take it down. 

Then I painted the ceiling that needed it. 

And can I just say, 12 feet doesn't sound that tall, but when you're up on a ladder, painting at 4 in the morning, it's pretty damn tall. 

Next I hit up Home Depot, and found some wood that I liked. It was called whitewood and I found it in the lumber section with all of the tall, straight boards. 

I bought one 

1x10 at 6 feet long
one 1x8 at 8 feet long
one 1x8 at 6 feet long. 

I made sure that the boards were straight and had some pretty knots in them. I had them all cut to 67 inches, which would give me 4 inches of room on each side when installed on my stone. I made sure to keep my scrap pieces, since I knew that I'd want to use the scrap piece of the 1x8 to cap off the sides. Then it was as simple and making a box. After I attached the 1x8's to the 1x10 with some wood glue and screws, I measured the sides and had hubby cut my scrap piece to cap off the side. Those were around 7-8 inches. In this pic, I had the sides just sitting in there, which is why they look wonky. 

Then I beat the crap out of distressed it, concentrating on the front (since that's all you'll really see). Some spots I hit with a hammer, some with a screwdriver. On some of the edges, I let the dremmel with a drill bit gouge out some of the wood. 

Then I filled in the screw holes and all the seams with stainable wood filled, and after that dried, I sanded the crap out of it and made it super smooth and worn. 

Then came time for staining after I applied the wood conditioner. The whitewood is super soft, and I wanted to make sure it took the stain evenly. The color I used was "dark walnut". This was one coat that I let sit for a couple of minutes. I ended up doing one more coat of stain, because you can always add more, you can't take it away. Which is why I tend to err on being too light than too dark. 

While I was doing that, hubby disassembled the mantle inside. I swear, this thing was built to withstand a nuclear bomb, it took a while to pull it all apart. 

Again, there should be a picture here to show what it looked like after we pulled off the decorative pieces, but imagine a wooden box built around some 2x4's. 

Then it was as simple as sliding on the box that I made, screwing it into the box that was already there, go drop $40 on candles at Walmart, and voila! (I've seen somewhere where a lady bought cheap drinking glasses, covered them in contact paper, and they looked like candles for a lot cheaper. But I'm an instant gratification kind of gal. Plus, with it being at eye level, I was worried that it would be obvious if I tried to fake candles). 

And since we all love a good before and after shot...

I think I spent $70ish bucks on this for the candles, the wood and stainable wood filler (I had the stain and screws already). I love it, and surprisingly, it's one of the only few projects that hubby and I both love. I'll call this project 99% finished, since I need to get some wood for the fireplace, and the wood grate holder thingy down from the attic. 

Whatcha think? 

Let's party like it's 1999...