Wednesday, December 21

header update

as we approach the new year, i thought the old blog header could use an update. i updated it this time last year, too. i really like the current format & colors, so i kept those the same. but the photo of the casa was taken april 2009, the day we saw it for the first time on our house buying trip.

[the casa april 2009]

it doesn't even show the whole house! and since spring was just barely dawning, the trees were still bare. i thought a more recent picture would be nice, one with the full face & some foliage. of course, we've done lots of updates on the front since then like painting the shutters & siding & trim. maybe that will be our updated photo for next year!

[the casa may 2011]

i probably won't blog much or at all until the new year, but i've been working hard on tons of projects & posts, making sure to document everything in photo, to share with you come january.

until then, enjoy your holidays, your families & friends, & your home!


Thursday, November 10

glazing baseboards, part 1

i know some of you have been chomping at the bit to see part 2 of the house painting saga! [missed part 1? read it here.] unfortunately, it's been cloudy & rainy here in lafayette, so i'm waiting for a sunny day to take a good picture. i'm hoping tomorrow will be such a day. in the meantime, i've been working inside, & i thought i'd share my latest INSIDE painting project.

shaun & i love the wood work & warmth from the cherry paneling & wood floors throughout the casa. however, it can be a bit MUCH sometimes. we especially find this true in the downstairs which has paneling halfway up the wall & wood floors. there seems to have been an attempt to match the floors to the paneling, but they really don't. the paneled walls do match nicely with all of the baseboards, trim, window mullions, & doors. but it's alot of BROWN... we don't want to paint the paneling or trim or floors, but we desire some distinction & freshening up of these casa attributes.

[the floors, paneling, & trim in the entryway] 

eventually, we'd like to refinish the downstairs wood floors for the sake of needed maintenance, & we'd like to stain them slightly darker than they are now to make a noticeable distinction between the walls & floor. we'd like something more in the family of the dark walnut pegs used [seen in the above picture].

we also have several baseboards & window mullions that need some tlc. we know we would never be able to refinish them & match the stain so well, so we decided to glaze them a darker shade. the idea of a glaze is that there is tint but still some transparency. we thought this would allow the original color & warmth of the wood to come through, but still let us "stain" them darker to create some delineation.

i really want to move into the master bedroom, like yesterday! since this is a currently unused room & an out-of-the-way area, i figured i could test glazing tints & techniques up there. i've detailed my process here.

[the "dressing room" in the master bedroom]

[the baseboards BEFORE]

obviously, i couldn't just slap on some paint. i had to prepare the baseboards to optimally receive the glaze.

[one] vacuum all the cobwebs & dust!

[two] sand them down to remove the glossy finish. i used a good medium 220 grit sandpaper. i have an old sanding block from my design school days, so i cut the sandpaper to the correct width & attach it to the spikes. it makes the job go much smoother.

[three] wipe down the baseboards to remove sawdust. i used my daily household cleanser made from 2 tablespoons of dawn plus 2 cups of water. make sure to let the wood dry before applying any treatments!

you can buy "faux glaze" by the gallon at home improvement store. to tint it, you add 1 quart of paint in your desired color/shade. [directions may vary by brand.] you can mix the two in a 2-gallon bucket, also available at home improvement stores. i'm pretty particular about my trim brush, & this one is my favorite. it's a 2" brush with a stubby rubber handle -- very convenient for sticking in my mouth when climbing up & down the step stool! i usually buy it at home depot. 

we want to match the dark walnut pegs in our downstairs floors for all of our baseboards & trim, so we chose a dark chocolate brown -- behr's "bear rug" in a satin finish.


[the wet glaze on the left compared to the original finish on the right]

like most paint, the glaze dries darker than it looks when wet. my favorite thing about this technique is how the brush strokes look like additional wood grain when dry. before the reveal of the first coat, here's another look at the before:

[the baseboards BEFORE]

[the baseboards AFTER, coat 1]

it's not drastic, but i love how the original warmth shines through the slightly darker shade. we plan to add at least one more coat of glaze, maybe two. i also might look into a darker brown, moving towards black, shade to tint the glaze. that's why this is merely "part 1." 

as if you didn't already have one cliffhanger make you hold your breath, 

to be continued...

Monday, October 31

the house painting saga, part 1

anyone remember the oven saga of 2010? well, this year, it's been the house painting saga...

we have wanted to paint the exterior of the casa since we moved in over two years ago. i have always wanted a golden yellow house with black trim & shutters. i thought that combo would look lovely on the casa because it would contrast well with the brick.

we painted the shutters black first. and we love them.

[taken june 2011]

we picked several yellows & tried them out on the siding. we didn't like any of them, so i played around on an online paint program to figure out what to try next. we decided a terra cotta color that would blend with the brick more than yellow but still be bright & fun was just right for us. [if you want to see these steps, see the posts on painting the house & color dilemma.]

we tested three different interpretations of "terra cotta"...

[taken september 2011]

we decided to go with the top color -- not too red or dark, not to pale, but just right. we bought the estimated seven gallons it will take to paint all the siding, front & back, on sale at home depot over labor day weekend. 

but before we could start painting, we first had to prep & prime. it took so much longer than i thought it would...

i apologize for having virtually zero pictures for this process. they were all lost when my mac logic board died... 

[one] remove all storm windows

[two] chip away any cracked glazing around the windows. [we have old school wooden frame windows, & glazing is a compound that reminds me of dry wall compound used to seal the wooden frame & the glass pane. new windows do not require glazing so almost no one knows what this is anymore. i had two guys from a window installation company come by the house, soliciting business around the neighborhood, & neither of them had a clue what glazing was!]

[three] reglaze windows as needed.

[four] let glazing cure. [this takes foooor-eeeeever. the instructions said 7-10 days. it's was a few weeks before all of it became completely cured. it's possible we put it on too thick though.]

[five] scrap any cracking or peeling paint. 

[six] clean the siding thoroughly. we used a combo of vacuuming, sweeping/dusting, & semi-pressure washing.

it took us a couple weeks to get all the prep work done, & it took me a couple days to do all the priming, plus another partial work day of shaun getting all the places entirely too high for me to reach!

i was so excited to be done with this phase, it's not even funny! i could not wait to get COLOR up!

PAINTING, part 1
shaun & i worked together on a saturday afternoon. he spent a couple of hours finishing the priming i couldn't reach, like the gutters, resulting in the above picture. then we spent three hours painting the first coat of "terra cotta" on together. for those who like to know actual paint colors, the real paint name is behr's "firebrick." we had it mixed for exterior with a satin finish, no primer.

when i first started painting, i was struck by it's brightness. but i wasn't too worried because i always feel that way when a new paint color goes up on a wall, partly due to the newness & partly due to the wetness [paint always dries slightly darker than it appears when wet]. i also figured this effect was heightened due to it being in the red/orange family, which i have heard is particularly prone to seeming too bright/light when wet &/or on the first coat.

this is what it came out like, finished & dried, the first coat:

 orange. our house is orange.

i'm pretty sure we're never going to live this down with the neighbors...

i apologize for the awful pictures, but i snapped these first thing the following morning, immediately before i went to home depot to figure out other options!

and because everyone loves a good cliff-hanger, i'll leave this saga 

to be continued...


Saturday, October 29

top 10 reasons to NOT blog...

i'm certainly not a model of consistent blogging, & i got to thinking about the various reasons why:

[ten] i'm not consistent about much of anything in my life! but i'm always striving to do better.

[nine] once i'm on a roll, & something interrupts that roll [like not having your computer while it's being repaired], it's hard to get going again.

[eight] receiving said computer back with all of your files gone [fried logic board], including all of your pictures you had for the blog [not to mention all your pictures for the last three years & a manuscript you've been working on even long than that...] is discouraging to say the least.

[seven] trying to figure out where to restart when doing so practically from scratch -- well, i'd rather be on pinterest! [i'm sometimes inclined to delete every post on this blog & literally start over!]

[six] i'm a girl with a plan, so i plan out my blog posts weeks in advance. it's nice because it motivates me to get things done with deadlines. but if i don't do well when i get off-schedule.

[five] pinterest is distracting & addicting!

[four] i start to wonder if anyone ever really reads this blog & so whether it's worth spending all the time to post. [then my sister & mother-in-law tell me how much they miss the blog, & i figure it's worth it even just for the two of them!]

[three] i'm sometimes uncertain about whether i want the focus of this blog to stay solely on the house & improvement projects, & decorating... i'm a bit of a perfectionist, & i like neatly categorized things, so making this blog anything else in addition to those posts bothers me because the name of the post is about the house. ridiculous, i know. but it keeps me stumped.

[two] life is about to get hectic again as i move into a new position at church, & we expect it will likely be more full-time hours. when am i going to get anything done?! much less have time to blog?! then i realize that many of you have busier lives than me & still do it. and that gives me hope.

[one] i can't think of any more reasons to NOT blog, so i think i'll get back to it! things to look forward to soon [hopefully!]: the newly painted house exterior, the master bedroom baseboards & paint choice, & who knows what else because right now i don't have a plan!

Wednesday, August 31

my mac died...

sorry i haven't been posting the last week. my mac died... well, actually its logic board died, & i had to send it off to be replaced. with it went alllll my pictures. so, it's going to be at least a week before i get it back & share with y'all all the cool things we've been up to.

i may try to post about some of the most recent stuff we've done via shaun's laptop. stay tuned -- i'll be back blogging as soon as i can!


Saturday, August 20

garden series: the bounty

we're having a great year for our garden! we lost most of our zucchini & cucumber plants to various pests [which you can read about in last week's post]. but overall, we're having several bumper crops -- especially eggplant, pepperoncini, & tomatoes.

i thought i would share some pictures of things we've harvested at various times.

[green beans]

 our first harvest of green beans yielded over 4 pounds! i'll do a post next week on how to freeze them properly.

[jalapenos, peppers, eggplant, & squash]

 we've harvested 6 eggplant so far, & there are more than that ripening outside! i have a couple of favorite eggplant recipes on the casteel cafe, & i've been researching new ones the past couple of days. but there are too many to eat right now before they go bad. so, i've experimented with freezing these as well & what they're good for once thawed. i'll share that next week, too.

[tomatoes from shaun's dad -- not sure of the variety]

we've had a few tomatoes so far. these we diced for taco night - yum! and i made my shrimp greek salad with some cherry tomatoes i harvested from the garden. we have a large crop of cherry tomatoes, romas, & big boys coming, & i'm going to have to can these suckers!

[cherry tomatoes]

[green beans, pepperoncinis, jalapenos]

our second crop of green beans, & i think we'll squeeze out one more harvest before the end of the season.

this is the first major harvest of pepperoncinis. i had already picked enough to practice refrigerator canning, but i'm going to need to for-real can these. i'll have another couple of harvests of pepperoncinis also this big. can we see lots of greek salad in our future?!

this is also the first major harvest of jalapenos. i picked a couple to make salsa for taco night, & they are potent! i don't want to can these because i prefer the fresher taste for salsa. i think i'm going to try freezing them & seeing how they do. here's hoping!
[last week] dealing with pests
[next week] canning & freezing

Thursday, August 18

color dilemma

so, i shared with ya'll a couple of weeks ago about how we're planning to paint the casa yellow...

[paint samples]

but lately, we've been having second thoughts. i started realizing that because of the way our house is designed, the siding & brick split the house in half, & the yellow side risks being a bit stark while the brick side risks looking bland. everyone asks us if the left side is an addition, but it's not. it's original to the house & to the plans. who knows why they did siding for the den & garage part?!

so, i found a website that lets you superimpose colors onto your own photo. [i know you can do that in photoshop, but i have yet to buy it for my mac, & i hate working on shaun's teeny laptop!] the website is valspar at lowe's virtual painter. it wasn't super high quality, but i found it very useful for my needs.

you can only save one picture & are limited in how much "paint" you can add to it, & you can't save the picture outside of the program. however, thanks to my handy-dandy mac feature that let's me do screen captures, i have several options to share with you.

starting with the yellow, i think we would like it with the brick & black trim, but we wouldn't like the half-&-half feeling...

someone suggested to me choosing a color that was similar to the mortar used with the brick. i wasn't a fan of the idea [mainly because i don't like neutral colors much, & i thought it would look drab next to the white garage doors]. as suspected, i don't like it.

 i started thinking about how our house has barn-like features: the roof line, the doorway shapes for the front porch & the garage doors, the vertical siding... so maybe an earthy red would look nice. i also thought it would be a bold color -- which i like! -- yet still similar enough to the brick that it might not give such a divisive feel to our half-&-half house. i'm kinda liking this option!

i also picked some more terra cotta shades, which is similar to our front doors. it also looks okay, but i'm not loving this quite as much.

just for kicks, i thought i'd check out a grayish-brown. you know, like an old weathered barn. nope, definitely not!

what do you think?! do you have any favorites to share with me? any other colors you'd like to suggest?


Wednesday, August 17

landscaping the yard... a little

apparently, ms. jean, the woman who lived here the 40 years before that, had a gorgeous yard with shrubs around the house, hydrangeas, & flowers of every color. i love hearing our neighbors across the street describe it for me. but i've never had the benefit of seeing any of it because the people who owned the casa right before us stripped the yard of all landscaping. [if i could just get my hands on them...]

so, we started with a blank slate. with lots of rocks.

we do have the most amazing old trees! our next door neighbor wanted to buy our silver maple that is right next to his fence so he could chop it down. we politely declined. one neighbor across the street is less than fond of all our silver maples, too, because the helicopter seed pods blow into his yard in the fall, & he is meticulous about his grass! still, we're keeping the trees.

landscaping is one of those expensive, lifelong projects. we have to do it a little bit at a time. i thought i'd share with you what we've done so far. we've done the most so far this spring & summer.

[front flower bed -2010]

this is the one thing we accomplished last year - creating the flower bed between the two silver maples in the front & planting some sparse greenery. we love the new bed & now have a hard time imagining the yard without it.

this year, shaun planted more lilies in the front bed & some on the east side of the house [by the hill].

 [front flower bed - 2011]

we'd like to fill in with tulips & daffodils, too. we need some height variation, too, but i'm not sure what we'll do long-term in this bed. it's really hard to plant things in this area because these maples are notorious for shallow roots & huge ones at that!

[east wall of the house]

long-term we'd like to plant shrubs around the house,  but we haven't decided what kind yet. these lilies are here temporarily, & we're also not sure where they'll end up. but look at the gorgeous colors!


all of our lilies were free, either brought back from illinois or from local friends. can't beat that deal!

we did a few things in the back this year:


 shaun wanted to move the firepit back a little & make it smaller. it used to be so big, you had to sit with your feet in the circle to reach the fire for toasting marshmallows. that small twig in the foreground, the one with the blue ribbon tied to it, that's our cherry tree.

it's more than just a twig now. it's a twig with leaves!

[back yard - fire pit & baby trees]

that's the cherry tree on the far left. the one on the far right is an apricot tree. they've grown really well this year. we look forward to when they're tall enough to spread some shade over this area & make a nice picnic area next to the fire pit.

we also started our butterfly garden!

[butterfly garden]

we want to add more flowering plants to this corner, plus a japanese maple or other miniature tree. we plan to erect a swing & lay a stone path, too. that birdbath was made by my uncle, & will make it's way off to one side or the other of this corner garden.

immediately to the left, along our neighbor's beautiful fence, are our black raspberry plants. i am so excited about these! we took plugs from the bushes at shaun's parents' farm. one of my favorite things at the farm is picking black raspberries, so i can't wait until these start producing fruit. it will be a couple of years...

[black raspberry vines]

it's not much, but we're making progress at least. like i said, landscaping is an expensive, lifelong project!   

i'll leave you with one last picture. it's not something we planted, but it's my favorite tree in our whole yard:

[crab apple tree - taken in the spring]