Home Improvement Project Round-Up

I just realized that we have been M.I.A. from this site for almost 3 years!!  So much has happened in that time.  The biggest change in our house was when I – Mama B – went back to work as a post-doc in the biochem department at the U, hence the lack of posting!

In that time we’ve completed nearly the rest of the basement remodel, re-finished multiple pieces of furniture, repainted a house, and built a set of bunk beds!

Here is a quick round-up of home improvement projects:


Of course, I’m in love!   Here are a few highlights: Vanity was handmade by a seller on Etsy who unfortunately is no longer available (Shout out to Jeff & Laura from timelessjourney).  The rug is from Urban Outfitters and the wall clock from World Market.  The wall mounted faucet  is by VIGO.

bunk beds.jpg

If you have not made any furniture using Ana White plans, you should!!  Her plans are so simple and easy to follow and the results are gorgeous and sturdy! I used her plans for Simple Bunk Beds.

refinishing furniture.jpg

There is no better feeling than spending $20 on used furniture, adding some elbow grease (as my beloved dad used to say), and finishing with something you love! The key to refinishing furniture is sand, sand, and sand some more!

Until next time  j and b

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Two toned, wood and white desk

My husband LOVES wood.  I, on the other hand, love WHITE painted wood.  These two things don’t generally jive well in our house…. until now!

We acquired this dilapidated old desk from the University of Utah Surplus & Salvage store.  At the time, we needed a desk in a hurry.  A student from the U was moving in soon and needed a place to study!

IMG_20150224_134529_nopm_Recently, our attic bedroom was transformed into an Airbnb guest room and I used this opportunity to redesign.  Design is not one of my strong suits, I must admit, but this project was too fun to pass up!

I began by sanding the heck out of the wood top of the desk.  It took some heavy duty, coarse sandpaper (80 grit) to sand off all the stain and scratches but the wood underneath was beautiful! Needless to say, my husband was pleased.

I painted the rest of the desk white, added some black handles, and this was the result!  Simple, gorgeous fix for this old desk.


Update:  Matching Two-toned Nightstand

I wanted to make other inexpensive pieces for this room with the two-toned look, so I purchased two of these Ikea Tarva nightstands for $40 each.  A little stain, white paint, and new hardware and the result is beautiful!


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DIY Pergola

Living in Utah is wonderful but, man, that sun is HOT!  We needed a solution to beat the heat on our west facing porch.  The pergola design allows for shade when needed and retractable curtains when the sun goes down.  IMG_1143

We started the project by installing three vertical beams.  The 4×4 vertical beams were incorporated into our existing railing.






A 4×4 board was placed across the top of the vertical beams, and two 2×6’s were added for a decorative finish.





We attached a decoratively cut 2×6 board to the house using long outdoor screws.  To that, we attached horizontal boards using adjustable metal joists.  The right end of the horizontal boards were attached to the 4×4 header using simple 90 degree connectors. IMG_1156

The design of the curtains was important.  They needed to be retractable and durable to withstand all kinds of weather.  The tracks that the curtains run on was made out of 1/8th inch aircraft cable secured with screw eyes and turnbuckles.  Make sure to buy or borrow a swagging tool to tighten the metal sleeves to make the end loop.


The curtain is attached to the aircraft cable using 1/2 inch conduit and key rings.  The design for these curtains was found here.   The fabric I used came from a breathable shade sail.  Many sizes and colors are available through awnings-usa.comIMG_1291

One final aircraft cable was installed inside the pergola header.  A hole was drilled through the middle vertical beam so that the cable could extend through.  The curtain is attached using grommets (craft store) and carabiners (HomeDepot).


The final touches were these Velcro tie backs……   Isn’t Utah gorgeous?!


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Basement Remodel

Our basement is a lovely big empty space with 7 foot ceilings.  Since our extra bedroom upstairs is currently occupied by a nice international student from the University, we would like to build these extra bedrooms in the basement for guests.  This will be pretty important in about 3 months when baby number two arrives!

The Plan  (loving Floorplanner.com right now)basement layout


We’re currently working on Bedroom 1.  This is both the highest priority room and the easiest to throw together.  Previously, this room contained a storage pit for coal and had a large brick wall going through the center.  Moving all the brick and mortar was a huge task.



Bedroom 1

The first task was putting up the studs for the walls.  Since there were so many pipes etc running along the ceiling, these studs aren’t the standard distance apart.  We also made room for a 30 inch door. 

We had to add a ton of cement to level out the floor (due mostly to that coal pit) and then laid down a sub-floor.  Four electrical outlets, a switch and wiring for recessed lights have been installed.  We added two new windows to the room.  These are a standard size so there are plenty in stock at HD & at a great price, score!

Drywall & joint compound are done!  I have to rant that I HATE DOING SANDING AND SPACKLING.  But alas it’s done.  The closet is just about done.  We want to add a shelving unit vertically between the two closets.  We also added trim around the windows, door & baseboard too.   From left to right….

I don’t know why but I really like the windows.  Maybe I like our good planning on the window sill size and the texture it brings.

Next on the list are:

  • Finish painting the walls
  • Finish the shelving unit of the closet
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Fathers Day

I sent this video to some folks a while back. but i thought it would be worth archiving here on this bloggy. A day late for fathers day but thats OK

What’s your favorite?

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DIY Wall Sconce

Becky thinks I’m obsessed with lighting. But that’s another topic. We knocked down a wall and put up a beam. And because I love a well lit room, I wanted to put some lights on the new beam. I was searching online for sconces and they range from 20 or 30 bucks to around a $1,000. And the cheaper ones look pretty, well, cheap. So we decided to make our own. There were surprisingly little online samples and descriptions of DIY sconces. I wanted the wall sconce to be open to the ceiling for a brighter reflection, and opaque front so light can pass through.  The one that I kind-of liked was this: Wall Sconce.  So we built from this theme and here is what we did…

1. Build your own light. We went to the local Habitat place and got a fixture for free.  You can also find this fixture on Amazon for about $10.  Mount your light fixture in a desired location.  When running new electrical, make sure to check your wire gauge and attach a ground whenever possible.  My electrical circuit starts with the hot black wire from the circuit breaker going to the fixture.  Then I paint a black line on the end of the white wire coming from the fixture to the switch.  This white (painted black) wire is attached to one screw on the switch.  The other screw on the switch has the white wire from the electrical box.  (You can also send the power (black wire) to the switch first.)

2. Metal frame. We went to Lowes to find some kind of mesh to mimic the outer frame and stumbled across this.  The whole sheet was about $25 and we could cut 4-5 sconces out of it ($5- $8 each).                                                                           

3. Sconce fabrication. From here its pretty easy. Figure out what shape you want and cut and fold till your done. We figured, if people can make a swan out of a dollar bill, we should be able to make a simple sconce frame.

4. Paint the sconce.  We used a textured brown spray paint ($5).

5. Mount the sconce.  We hung the sconce first so that we could use a screwdriver through the holes in the metal.                                       

6. Transparent Insert.  Get some type of opaque paper from art store or use wax paper straight from your kitchen.  I am guessing many different materials would work here. Insert the paper into the sconce frame.                                  

Done. Price for project ~$6 for each sconce ($16 if you have to buy the light)                      

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Mmm Pie…

I feel spoiled these days with our weekly produce delivery from Winder Farms.  We always seem to have avocados, mangoes, and kiwis on hand these days.  This week our box had 4 yummy stalks of rhubarb.  Pies are dear to my heart.  In lieu of wedding cake, my husband and I had many delicious pies (a la mode of course), one of which was a strawberry rhubarb.   Here is my attempt at making a strawberry, mango and rhubarb pie for my amazing husband of 4+ years.

Strawberry Mango and Rhubarb Pie

Bottom crust
1 c. Jiffy baking mix (why? b/c I ran out of flour)
1/4 c. melted butter
2-3 tablespoons boiling water

Yummy spring fruit

Pie filling
1 large mango
1/2 lb strawberries
2 large stalks rhubarb
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch
Pinch of salt
Top crust
1 c. Jiffy baking mix
1/3 c. milk
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Mix bottom crust ingredients together in a bowl put in 9 inch pie dish. Set aside.
3. Chop the rhubarb, strawberries, and mango into bite-sized pieces.
4. In a large bowl toss the fruit with the corn starch, honey, vanilla, salt, and lemon juice. Hands work best!

5. Fill the pie with the fruit mixture.
6. Mix Jiffy baking mix and milk together and drop mixture by tablespoonfuls over the pie.
7. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top and bake at 350 until the top is golden brown, about 50 minutes.

Mmm pie..

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Things I never want to forget

                Concentration face                                                Tongue-y smile

             Sleepy smiles                                  Wolverine ears                       Tiny toes

    The first day                                                        Chins

Chunky legs                                                           the Good Morning blanket peek

     The lip                                                                       The bear suit

    Soul patch                                                                 The Mohawk

     Tearful car rides                                                  Poopy grunt

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Adventures in Rice Cereal

First Food!

   Pretty exciting  Spooooon…   Egh, that was okWhat’s not shown is he threw it all up 5 mins later….  We’ll try again tomorrow.

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The Help

Last night we watched The Help. It was a pretty stinkn good movie. I had a couple random thoughts throughout the movie though. This first is that I think I’ve decided to not watch another violent or disturbing movie. The Help was disturbing in a “wow we as a society, and personally, have the ability live with some really depraved ideas” kind of way but not in a violent way. For the most part is was very up lifting and I think pulled on the right heart strings. There were a few scenes that made Becky cry. I would never admit publicly of doing the same but they were good scenes. 🙂 I walked away energized, contemplative, and overall uplifted. On the other hand, I have on numerous occassions had the opposite feeling after watching a movie. A recent example is the movie The Driver. There was an unexpected level of brutality that left my stomach wrenching. I can’t necessarily pinpoint whether or not this type of movie has an enduring impact on my life. Although generally speaking I am sure there is plenty of evidence available.  It just seems very stupid to have acknowledged both a feeling of beauty and goodness on one side and nastiness on the other and willfully choose the later over the former anymore. We will see if I can do it but I’m done with the nasty movies.

Two totally separate images I think culminated in this next thought, related to who we choose as friends. I noticed the snotty bitchy southern white chicks that “skeeter” was hanging out with. You have to assume they came from the same background and were somewhat similar in history. So I guess that just makes sense and exemplifies the way friendships normally come together. The next linker was the sermon from last week at church based on Luke 14:12 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. As we just moved to a new city and don’t know anybody, making friends has been on our mind a lot. This got me wondering why we are spending so much time seeking out those people who have much to offer and most likely have a similar background as us. Shouldn’t we be seeking out those who are lonely and need true companionship?

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