Archive for the ‘House’ Category

Scrap Metal Christmas

Living with an engineer has its perks. Among other things, I have (nearly) unlimited access to a wide variety of tools and materials. Our house is practically a mini Home Depot, giving me the ability to pick up most DIY projects on a whim.

On Monday my whims convinced me to throw together a lighted cone tree. The project used four items: leftover wire mesh from past bathroom renovations, zip ties, tin snips, and white string lights.

I rolled the wire mesh into a giant cone, securing it along the way with zip ties to maintain the cone shape.

I received only a few minor cuts before finally molding the wire mesh to my will.

After forming the cone I trimmed the base with tin snips to stabilize it. Sure, it looks a little “rustic” now, but after adding a few lights…

…okay, it still looks pretty rough…I mean, rustic. Luckily, the glow of the lights hides most flaws.

My little tree and wreath will be the extent of our outdoor Christmas decorations this year. Then again, an animated abominable snowman would be a great addition to the yard. Maybe next year.


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You will have to excuse me if I haven’t posted in a few weeks. If you recall, in July we committed to finishing our master bathroom by Thanksgiving. This commitment kicked into full gear in November, where we took the bathroom from this…

To this…

Can you believe Dr. Dan did all of that fancy tile work? We still have a few more things to do, but Dan has finished the lion’s share of the work for us.

In addition to a bathroom renovation, we hosted six family members for the Thanksgiving holiday. Here is our family’s Thanksgiving menu, with links to recipes when available.

Pastry Wrapped Brie
Ginna’s Spinach Dip with Veggies

Main Course
Roasted Chicken and Honey Baked Ham

Green Bean Casserole
Asparagus Wrapped in Serrano Ham
Grandma Mckee’s Dressing
Grandma Edwards’ Sweet Potato Soufflé
Deviled Eggs
Dinner Rolls

America’s Test Kitchen’s Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Spice Cake
Vanilla Ice Cream

Alas, there was one tragedy this Thanksgiving…

The sweet potato soufflé, in an attempt to escape the Thanksgiving dinner table, jumped out of my father-in-law’s hands only to crash into the dressing. The soufflé, unfortunately, did not survive.

Click here to view more Thanksgiving shenanigans. We have also documented our bathroom renovations here.

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Table Talk

Over the past 6 months our dining area has gone from Red Skins tribute…

…to painted but sparse…

…to grown up with a fancy dining table!

I nabbed the table from the Crate and Barrel Outlet in Old Town Alexandria. A scratch on just one corner of the table dropped the price from $700 to just $250! The great price didn’t come without a fight. Just look at the crowd of yuppies I had to compete against at the Crate and Barrel Sidewalk Sale last weekend.

The great price was well worth dealing with all the bargain crazed (myself included) shoppers last Saturday. Now we have a table that looks so nice and new that, frankly, we’re a little afraid to eat on it.

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Acorns by Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn knows there are a lot of hungry squirrels out there. Careless humans constantly steal acorns from starving squirrels, just to put together cheap fall decorations.  Thanks to Pottery Barn, squirrels no longer have to fear starvation. For only $15, once thrifty decorators can now fill their decorative vases with FAKE acorns. The acorns are “…painted for an authentic look…” and “…lend the appeal of healthy abundance to holiday displays.”

You can purchase the acorns here. Or, for half the price, I will personally send you twice the amount in a burlap sack (angry squirrels not included).

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Spice Rack Operational

There she is, up and ready for cooking. Dr. Dan put her up (on his day off, no less) and added a surprise feature, rounded edges!

He used a file to round of the previously sharp edges. I think it gives it a cleaner, more professional look.

Here’s a closer look at the jars.

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I simply do not have time for a hurricane. I’m in an all day job training session tomorrow in Silver Spring, MD, I have a guest coming in on Monday, and I need to focus on my spice rack. I have been planning this spice rack ever since I saw this post on Apartment Therapy. The last of my of my materials came this week and hurricane be damned, I am finishing this spice rack!

This is where I am today, almost ready to mount this stainless steel beauty on the wall.

The project uses jelly jars attached with magnets on a stainless steel sheet. The tins to the left are from an existing magnetic spice set. The white dots are leftover magnets to be used on forthcoming jelly/spice jars. Here’s the shopping list for this project (shipping costs included in price):

Total Cost: $137.52

2.375 inch self adhesive magnetic rounds: $28.44

Stainless Steel Sheet (.060″ x 24″ x 36): $57.20

4 oz, 2 .5 in diameter jelly jars:$25.50

2.5 inch black jar caps: $18.50

…and now for the stuff that I didn’t buy online. I paid $6 for the washers, screws, and drill bit combined. I paid $1.88 for the opaque marker, purchased at Michaels.

Lessons Learned

1. The project definitely turned out to be more expensive than I anticipated. Amazon sells a smaller, less expensive version for $98 (not including shipping).

2. I should have shopped around for the jelly jars. This website sells them for half the price.

3. Use 400 series stainless steel. Other series are not magnetic.

4. Be prepared to destroy a drill bit when installing the stainless steel sheet on the wall.

5. Sticker labels give the jars a nice, clean look; however, they do not do well in the dishwasher. I opted for the water-based opaque marker, which allows me to easily change the labels. Now I wish that I took that calligraphy elective in college.

I will post better pictures once the darn thing is on the wall. Let’s hope that the updated pictures will not come with photos of hurricane damage. Speaking of which, I should really buy some batteries.

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Dining Room Progress

Sorry, Northern Virginia, but the Redskins color scheme did not work for my dining room.

After lots of mud, a few coats of primer, and just one disagreement over color, we now have a much brighter dining area.

Of course, no project is ever complete in this house. I need to hang up those mirrors, replace the dining room table/chairs, find curtain ties, touch up the molding, consider buying a rug…

While I am working on my never ending task list, I am going to delegate a project to you. We have a door chime box in the house, which makes for a retro eye sore (also notice that super safe outlet situation at the bottom of the picture. We’re working on that).

This box normally covers the door chime.

I need a solution that either a) covers the door chime with some thing more attractive than the box above or b) covers the box with some thing pretty. Perhaps decorative paper from Paper Source? Discuss!

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