Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Fun Begins

The other week our local police department hosted a Public Safety Day for the entire community. The highlight of the day, besides for getting to explore all the different police/fire vehicles, is the Kiddie Police Academy. My son is at the age where his dream jobs are to be a: fireman, police man, paramedic and construction worker so this was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Not to worry, my daughter had a great time too.

First they had to go through an obstacle course (didn't get any pictures of that unfortunately). Then they learned CPR.

Next activity was to get a description of a suspect from an officer and draw a police sketch. It was so cute to see their completed drawings and how different they were from each other.

Then they had boot camp and practiced their push-ups and sit-ups.

The cadets from the academy were really running most of the activities and they looked like they were having as much fun as all the kids were! Here they are chasing after a "bad guy" and then snapping hand-cuffs on him before leading him to "jail."

Last up was practice at the "shooting range" where they had to throw balls into a box. My son is actually a pretty good shot! When they completed all their activities, they got a special certificate.

There were a bunch of booths from different agencies like the FBI and local government offices giving out freebies so you can't go wrong there! :-) Outside they had all sorts of cool emergency vehicles, police horses and dogs, and helicopters, but this bomb robot was my favorite.

The summer has gotten off to a great start and we are all enjoying the more relaxed, lazy days. The kids are in day camp and loving it and my office has changed to "summer schedule" so what could be better?!

How are you spending your summer? Any vacations coming up?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Painted Front Door Reveal

Now for the long-delayed follow-up to the original door painting post! I forgot to mention previously, the the last two steps I took before the actual painting was wiping the door down with a tack cloth (man, are those things sticky!) and using a liquid deglosser as a final step to making the door ready to paint (much easier and cleaner than actually sanding).

The painting took most of one whole Sunday. I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra (paint + primer in one) so I knew I would have better coverage than using regular paint, but I was not still not super-impressed with the coverage, more on that later.

I would have loved to replace all the hardware on the door since with some Oil Rubbed Bronze ones but it was not in the plans for now. The door knocker screw is painted over on the other side so I couldn't take it off and I was too nervous to spray paint it all. You can see that the originals are weathered and discolored.

I have seen many bloggers use Rub n Buff so I thought that might be a good temporary solution to freshen up the brassy color. It took me a few minutes, but then I got the hang of it. I squeezed some out onto a paper towel and just rubbed it around everywhere until it was looking nice and shiny. Again, gold would not have been my first choice, but since the locks were already that color I was definitely the budget-friendly color to choose.

Here's the full view from the inside. I love the burst of color when the door is open!

And here is the door from the outside. I think the color really pops off the red bricks. From the outside there's gold door fixtures, nickel storm door fixtures and ORB light and mailbox. Color overload anyone? In due time we'll change them to be consistent throughout.

Here's a full house view.

Just to remind you, here's the house with the old white dingy door.

Major improvement!!

I didn't intend for this to turn into a product review and I'm certainly not getting perked for anything, but I just wanted to share two things with you. First, Purdy paint brushes are a-ma-zing! I left the paintbrush in the paint tray wrapped in a plastic bag for over a week because I was too lazy to clean it up after spending all day painting. I was really nervous that the paint would be caked on and I'd have to throw away the brush, but every last bit of paint washed out. I was so happy!! This is the paint brush after sitting over a week in dried out red paint. I don't know if it was because it was wrapped in plastic or a combination of it being an amazing brush, but either way I am very pleased.

Now for the paint on the other hand... I paid a little more money to get the paint and primer in one because Behr claims that it has superior coverage and stain blocking.

Uh, not so much. This is after four coats of paint: You can still see scuff marks towards the bottom of the door. I think they are mostly from knocking the stroller tires into the door, but I was disappointed that four coats of paint did not cover them. I ended up doing 6 coats in certain areas and you can still seem them if you're looking. I was surprised because we've always used Behr paint and have never had a problem before so I don't know what happened this time around. Just wanted to give you all a heads-up about that.

So tell me what you've been up to! What brands of exterior pant have you had luck with? Anyone else have neighbors comment on their door colors?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Barn Light Electric Giveaway

A few weeks ago, Michelle informed her readers about Barn Light Electric's 2012 Online Giveaway. First of all, if you are not already reading her blog, you should! She was last year's first prize winner and picked out some incredible lighting for her house. Second of all, this is amazing opportunity to browse through some gorgeous lighting of all different styles and price ranges.

It's so easy to enter - just post about some of your favorite styles and email your blog post to Barn Electric. Even if you don't have a blog, you can still enter. (See official rules below.) How easy is that?

Here are a few (of the many) that caught my eye.

We don't have high ceilings in our house (only 8') so there are a lot of flush mount fixtures. As soon as I saw this beauty, I knew it would be a perfect replacement for many of the rooms in our house. Love it!! It's sleek, it's modern, it's shiny. Yes, please!

15" Drum Surface Mount, Polished Nickel
Drum 15" Surface Mount

This pendant has a similar style to the flush mount, but with the little extra bling and embellishments, it really stands out. It would be perfect for our dining room. It's contemporary enough for my style, but traditional enough that I'm betting the hubby will love it as much as I do!

22" Vintage Pendant, Polished Nickel
Paris Art Deco 22" Pendant

This is is a totally different look, but I would love this in the kitchen, right over the table. The fixture we have now is straight from the 80s with its white paint and big round bulb covers. Pretty much anything would be an improvement, but this would take it over the top.
Bungalow 4-Light Pendant, Blackened Steel
Bungalow 4-Light Pendant
These are only three of my favorites! As you can see, they carry a far bigger variety of fixtures than the rustic, industrial "barn lights" you might assume that they have. So stop by their website and create your wishlist!

TO ENTER: Please follow the provided rules to enter:
  1. Look around online at Barn Light Electric and pick lights you’d love to own
  2. Feature your lighting picks on your personal blog, and link to the lights if you can!
  3. Copy/Paste these rules at the bottom of your blog article
  4. Once your personal post is up, you must email your blog link to: to be qualified to win – the contest ends July 2, 2012
  5. Don’t have a blog? Find out how you can enter by visiting our website or read these Official Rules 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day and Other Ramblings...

How was your Father's Day? Our was nice and relaxing. My parents were actually on a flight to Florida so we celebrated early and had a joint Mother's Day/Father's Day party for them a few weeks ago. For my hubby, I found this cute printable and interviewed my kids to fill them out. I wrote in the answers for my four year old, but my six year old did hers on her own. Needless to say, their daddy loved them!

The kids decided to wake up at 6 am for some reason so we had a big family snuggle for awhile because the rest of us weren't ready to get up yet! We had a quick workout at the gym while the kids were at my in-laws and my daughter had a birthday party after lunch so the "boys" hung out. Unfortunately, it didn't last too long because someone on the block started mowing their lawn and when he got close to the sidewalk, my son freaked out. We retreated inside for a round of Chutes and Ladders! :-)

In other news, the weather has been beautiful and the plants are flourishing! (This is how everything looked just under a month ago.) Check out these beauties!! The hydrangeas are breathtaking. I cut just one flower and brought it in over the weekend because they are too beautiful to only look at while I'm outside.

And the veggie garden is also doing great. Check out this forest of carrots. I think I may have planted them a little too close together...

I was worried about the cucumbers because they didn't seem to be growing too much, but there's finally a flower so I hope a cucumber isn't too far behind that.

The zucchinis are also sporting some big orange flowers. Of course it had to close up yesterday morning when I took the picture.

And the snap peas are climbing up the fence and have tons of white flowers. I actually added some trellises to help them grow up because they started wrapping their little vines around each other and getting all knotted up.

I know you are probably waiting to see an "after" of our front door, and don't think I've forgotten. I have painted a few coats, but it still needs a little more work and it's not ready for a reveal yet. But I love how it's coming out and even in its unfinished state I think it looks great, so stay tuned! What have you been up to lately?

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coffee Crumb Cake

Hey guys! Sorry I haven't posted all week!! Things have been CRAZY over here. Let's see, first back up to last Friday evening when our air conditioner decided to stop working. Yes, it was in the 90s outside and a cool 84 degrees inside the house all weekend. Needless to say, there was no DIYing taking place. We finally got it fixed Monday afternoon and it took about 4 hours of the AC running continuously for the house to cool down.

Then, Tuesday morning, while at a staff meeting at work, I was standing up in the back of the room and all of a sudden felt really light headed and dizzy. By the time I got to my office, I could barely see and was about to pass out. Thank goodness, someone happened to see me and realized I wasn't ok. I ended up being taken to the ER with a severe case of dehydration. Yikes!

So now it's Thursday and I figured I'd share a delicious recipe with you that you can make for any Father's Day celebrations that you have planned. I found this recipe on Pinterest and it immediately reminded me of the Entemann's cake that I used to eat growing up. I modified the original recipe to make it non-dairy (hubby is lactose intolerant) and I (and my family) think it it came out scrumptious!

Here's the recipe, as I made it with my modifications. If you do make the cake, please be sure to credit Tara as well.

New York-Style Crumb Cake
source: Cooks’ Illustrated free iPhone app and Cooks’ Illustrated May 2007

Don’t be tempted to substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour, as doing so will make a dry, tough cake. If you can’t find buttermilk, you can substitute an equal amount of plain, low-fat yogurt. When topping the cake, take care to not push the crumbs into the batter. This recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. If doubling, increase the baking time to about 45 minutes. Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

For the Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted margarine, melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups cake flour

Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and margarine in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature while you make the batter.

This should be the consistency when it's all mixed.

For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted margarine, cut into 6 tablespoon-size pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup soy milk
(1/3 teaspoon lemon juice - optional*)

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
*The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup of buttermilk. Since I wanted to make this recipe non-dairy, I researched non-dairy substitutes for buttermilk, only to find that there wasn't much out there. The closest I found was to add lemon juice or vinegar to soy milk so that's what I did. I asked my dad about it since he's more of a science guy than I am and he informed me that since soy milk doesn't have the same lactic acid that regular milk has, adding the lemon juice to it wouldn't really have the same chemical reaction that it would have if I added it to cow's milk. He didn't feel like it was necessary to add the lemon juice to the soy milk altogether, but I figured I'd throw it out here for you to decide. Food for thought. (Pun intended, ha!)
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer because I was too lazy to take out the stand mixer), mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add margarine one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and soy milk mixture; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.

Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer.

Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center. (Look how much crumb topping there is - yum!)

 Bake until crumbs are golden and toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang.

  Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Don't leave this mess for your hubby to clean up if you're making it for Father's Day!

Make sure you get a piece while you can because there most likely won't be any leftovers!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Prepping a Door for Painting

As I mentioned, I am working on updating the front door with a fresh coat of paint. I went to Home Depot the other day and brought home lots of paint swatches. We've always used Behr paint so that's mostly what I picked up, but I also got some Martha Stewart and Glidden swatches.

From this big pile, I narrowed it down to these.

And from there to here:

My hubby wasn't crazy about the yellow so we nixed that and agreed that red would be the best color. It's called "Licorice Stick" by Behr. Once we settled on the color, it was time to start prepping the door for paint.

I mentioned in my previous post that there was some cracking around where we had the original mail slot filled in. Not pretty! The key to success in any paint job is the preparation so I got to work.

I used DryDex spackling which I love because it's easy to apply and it turns white when it's dry so you know when you can start sanding. I used it in my mudroom project and it was great. You'll also want a putty knife and sand paper.

Just apply a thin bead of spackle...

And use the putty knife to smooth it out and really push it into the cracks.

 When I was finished in that area, this is what it looked like:

And here it is when it's dry, before being sanded.

There was also another major sore spot towards the top of the door that needed some work. (Not sure why I'm pointing this out to the world, but that is a dead, smashed bug on the top. Ugh!)


Smooth and bug-free!

There was also some crackling by the raised panels. In places like this, it's helpful to have a latex glove so you can smooth it with your finger because a putty knife wouldn't work in small nooks like this.

Since I had all the right supplies out, I figured it was a good time to take care of a hole in the dining room that was exposed ever since I hung the gallery wall. I'll have to touch up that paint now, but that should be a quick job.

Next step is the actual painting. I hope to get that done over the weekend and share it with you on Monday. Stay tuned!

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