Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Conservatory: I need a CLUE (or two) (or more)

Image result for clue gameSince we now have a Study upstairs, we decided to go with a CLUE game theme in the house, and turn our old office into a Conservatory.

(The kids have started asking for a Ballroom, which is not likely to happen.  But maybe a Billiards Room someday...  The parallels with the game must stop there, though -- no murdering of Mr. Body here please!)

Anyway, perhaps coincidentally, this room has proven to be quite a mystery to me!  We moved all of our music stuff in there, and some of our school books and materials have found a home there, too.  But I can't seem to pull it altogether well.  Something about the colors is not working for me.

So I called in Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet to help me get some CLUES for this room, as I now rely on crowdsourcing to answer these questions for me!*

Ok, so here's what we have to work with so far:

Here's the first thing about which we need a CLUE:

 What should we do with this piano bench and/or the whole piano??  My neighbor has suggested making a fabric seat cover for it, which sounds a little difficult to me, but possibly do-able.  If I do that, what color/pattern??  Or dare I paint the bench top??  I feel like all the wood in there is a little overwhelming.  The piano is quite old -- it's the one I learned on as a child, and the wood is all marked up.... Another idea would be to paint the whole piano black.... but I don't think I trust myself to do that well.  Any other thoughts??  Miss Scarlet and I welcome all suggestions.

Now for the next challenge, brought to you by Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum:

What should I do with this wall?  I was given these two prints, and I like the pictures, but I do NOT like the frames.  I'm not sure what color to paint them, though.  Should I use them and/or paint them?  Or just find something else for this wall?  (Keep in mind I've essentially used up all available monies for these renovations!)
Who knew Col. Mustard and Prof. Plum were such characters

Is there anything else I can do with this conservatory to make it better?

We'll continue to play and wait for the mysteries to be solved!

*For some odd reason, Strider didn't want to play along.  :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

More Home Renovations

A few more rooms are now "close enough" in this whole renovation process.  Or, as close as they're going to be for awhile, since we recently had the "over-budget" conversation.

So here are some pics of our new living room, semi-modified kitchen, and slightly altered sunroom.

First the Living Room:

Here is what it looked like BEFORE:

Most of the changes were along this wall:
Sorry -- crooked picture. 

I know you're not supposed to make everything all symmetric above the fireplace, but I can't help it.  Looking at asymmetric things bothers me!

We designed this cover for our TV and Pete built it:

And now we have a spot for our firewood.  Bring on the cooler temps!

The other main changes were along this wall:

We switched out the chairs, and my father and Pete added trim around all of the windows.  Now I'm trying to decide if I should hang curtains on the sides of them or not.... any opinions??)

Since our furniture always ends up with writing on it anyway, we decided to just go ahead and pick chairs with writing already on them:

This was the first thing I bought (at an antique store) when I knew we were going to re-do the room:

Here's the room this evening:

 (By tomorrow it will all be full of clutter again, so I want to remember this!)

Now for the KITCHEN:

We didn't have money to do any major changes -- no new appliances or light fixtures or anything -- so we just focused on adding a few touches to make it more my style.

My favorite part is the new bar. Here's how it looked BEFORE:

And NOW:

 Pete hung beadboard under the bar and above some of the counters in the rest of the kitchen.

I put up this quote from the Benedictine monks-- "Deo Optimo Maximo" -- which means, "To God the best and the greatest.  (Good for teaching Latin roots, too!)
And that's my homemade ginger ale fermenting on the counter!
...But it was only a matter of hours before someone had changed the board to read this:

I may have to hide the chalk.  Anyway, moving on...

The view from the sink:

This is what the view was BEFORE:

Finally, the SUNROOM:

This was the BEFORE:

And this is NOW:
Again, not a lot of big change, but I do like it better this way.

(Yes, the stools still need to be cut down.)

Another question I now have is whether or not I should re-hang the curtains I had above these windows.  (They're navy and ivory stripes -- see "before" pic)  Should I????

And another question is what I should put along this wall.  We used to have our piano here, but it is now in another room.  Should I get some sort of bench for this wall??

And finally, if anyone is reading this, please remember this saying on my wall, and come visit!!!

p.s. Tomorrow I'll post pictures of our "conservatory" -- I still need help with that room!

School Project Day, a.k.a. "He Glued My Cheek!" Day

I continue to have a love-hate relationship with school projects.  One of my idealistic dreams of homeschooling is that we can take all the time we want making really cool projects about whatever we're studying... but when it comes down to it, making projects drives me completely batty.

 I get all the stuff out, and all the tools, and we brainstorm ideas, and then it all goes downhill quickly.  Everyone fights over the materials, all hands get quite grabby, and Mom gets quite crabby.

Now I will say that the projects have gotten a little easier and more fun now that the kids can initiate and follow through on their own creations more.  For instance, today we decided to work on (very rough) replicas of the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon," one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, don't ya know.  Colsen and Miles ran right down to the garage and found some scrap wood and put together their own frames lickety-split.  So that was pretty cool.

Then it was time for the Glue Gun to come out -- the highlight of all school projects, don't ya know.  This is when the activity was decidedly less fun, and the accident toll began to rise.  Fingers were burned, and yes, we even had this little interaction:

"Mom!!  He burned my glued my cheek!"
"No, I didn't!  You put your cheek right next to my hand!"
"Well you burned me!"

Etc., etc.

Nevertheless, we persevered, and isn't that the ultimate lesson to be learned on School Project Day?

(They look exactly like the Hanging Gardens must have looked, right?  They even have little bucket-pulley irrigation systems to get the water to the top terraces.... hard to see in the pictures.  :)  )

Monday, September 21, 2015

Another table makeover

Our sunroom has this little space for a table and 2 stools, and a couple of years ago I bought this little inexpensive pub table at an antique store.  Now, though, it doesn't quite match all the colors and styles of the house, so I was trying to decide what to put there instead.

After a lot of overthinking, I finally decided to move the stools upstairs to the bonus room and move the wooden stools that we could no longer use at our kitchen bar into this sunroom.

Then I pulled out my two new best friends:  spray paint and wood stain (and our boring close associate, sandpaper).

Here's the new table!

Now I just need to get Pete to cut down the legs of the stools a few inches (he loooves it when I give him projects like that) so they fit better.  (And get that stuff off the floor under the windows)  The fun continues!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Family Camp Weekend

Our hosts for the weekend
For Christmas last year my parents gave us the gift of a weekend with them, and when we finally cashed in this weekend we discovered just how big of a gift that was!  We were greeted with a big sign and a SONG about how this was going to be Family Camp Weekend.  I was always jealous of my kids' Cousins Camp weekends.... now it was even the adults' turn!

We were spoiled.  All weekend.

Not only did we get some awesome meals, but we also had special outing after special outing, with games and activities at the house in between.  (And Pete and I even got some time away by ourselves to celebrate an early anniversary with a special dinner at The Melting Pot!)

First we kicked it all off with a photo scavenger hunt in Birkdale Village.

Of course, my team won!

After dinner at Brixx, we played some Minute-to-Minute games:

On Saturday, we all went to Defy Gravity AND mini golf (and did a little shopping), but, sadly, took no pictures.  Poppa was the big champion at mini golf and all of the kids had a blast challenging themselves on the various obstacles at Defy Gravity.

And it's a good thing they warmed up there, because the next day, after church, we went to the Whitewater Center and experienced all kinds of challenges and adventures!

Everyone had a great time on the obstacle course, and then Pete, Strider and Colsen headed for the treetops and the ropes courses.  They're much braver than I!

At the end of the day, Pete, Strider, Rayna, Miles and Colsen squeezed in some quick kayaking, and Strider did a bunch of rock climbing.  Reluctantly, we realized it was time to go as dinner time came and went and we needed to return to regular life to prepare for the upcoming week.

We all had a blast at Family Camp, and Colsen even proclaimed the last day as "one of the most fun days of his whole life!"  Such good memories made.

If anyone is looking for some a good Family Camp experience, I highly recommend the Sonshine Inn.  The innkeepers are pretty cool and have some great ideas.