Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Kid Doesn't Need A Marble Top Picnic Table?

For the babies' first birthday, Adam and I wanted to get them a kitchen set.  We threw around the idea of DIY-ing one.  But we found a heck of a deal on this KidKraft one that was just too good to pass up.  So we bought it and assembled it.  It's currently hiding in our basement waiting for the kids' birthday.  In addition to a kitchen, we decided the kids needed a table to eat all of their home-cooked meals at.  We again threw around the idea of making one ourselves, but my mom found this Little Tykes picnic table at a garage sale for $2!  That was definitely too good of a deal to pass up!  (Thanks, Grandma!)

While the table was in good shape (there were some crayon marks that my mom used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get rid of), it wasn't exactly cute.  The top was beige, the base was blue, and the seats were red.  Since this picnic table was going to live in Lyla's room, I decided I could make it look cuter with just a little bit of effort and a few supplies. 

I decided to spray paint the whole thing and then use some "marble" contact paper to put on the top.  I bought a can of Rust-Oleum Spray Paint and Primer in Satin Granite.  It said on the can that it would work on plastic so I was sold. 

The first thing I did was hose down the picnic table.  I wanted to make sure the surface was clean and free of any debris before spray painting.  I let it fully dry in the sun.  My original plan was to take the pieces apart and spray paint them separately, but I couldn't figure out how to get it apart.  There weren't any obvious screws or other hardware.  I tried tugging on some places that looked like connecting points, but they didn't easily come apart and I didn't want to break anything.  Plus, this was nap time and the countdown was on!  So I just decided to spray the whole table while it was fully assembled.  I laid out a flattened cardboard box in the yard and put the picnic table on it, top side down.  I held the can about 12 inches away and sprayed several thin, light coats.  It helps if you keep the can moving the whole time so you don't end up with any runs or globs of paint.  It will look like you missed some areas after a coat or two, but that's okay.  It's better to do more coats than just do one that looks bad.  

I didn't really wait until each coat fully dried before putting on the next one.  Time was not on my side, but it worked out just fine to wait just a few minutes in between coats.  Of course, I ran out of spray paint before the project was completed.  So when Archer and Lyla woke up from their naps, we took a trip to Home Depot to get some more spray paint.  They didn't seem to mind the errand because they got to ride in one of those fun race car carts.  Lyla made sure to show Archer how to correctly turn his steering wheel.  

Once Lyla and Archer were down for their afternoon nap, I went back outside to finish the spray painting.  It worked out well that I was able to get the bottom and sides completed with the first can.  That portion was dry so I just flipped the table over and started spraying the top of the table with the second can of spray paint.  I didn't worry about getting the table top absolutely perfect because I knew I was going to cover it with contact paper.

I let it dry completely for about two days before I moved onto the contact paper step.  I let it dry outside on our deck so it wouldn't be so fumy when I brought it inside.  To do the contact paper, I cut a section of contact paper that was a little bit longer than the length of the table.  I peeled off one edge and lined it up with the edge of the table.  There's actually a little lip on the table and I put the contact paper just inside that lip.  It was helpful to only take off part of the paper backing.  That way it didn't all stick together on me.  I just pulled the backing off and smoothed down the contact paper as I went along.  

Once I had the whole piece stuck on the top of the table, I really smoothed it out.  I started in the center and pushed any air bubbles out towards the sides.  

The next step was trimming away the excess contact paper along the edges.  First I tried using the edge of a pair of scissors, but that didn't give me a very crisp cut.  So I tried a razor blade next and that did the trick.  I just followed along the inside lip of the table.  I didn't push too hard because I didn't want to go through the paint or cut into the surface of the table.  Just some very slight pressure cut through the contact paper.  

Once I made it all the way around the table, I just pulled off the excess contact paper like a giant sticker.  It was very satisfying!  

It turned out super cute!  They gray will look perfect in Lyla's room with her other gray furniture.  And the "marble" gives it a touch a sophistication.  What kid doesn't need that in their toys?! ;)  I also like the fact that the contact paper is removeable, so I can just peel that up and replace it when they scribble all over it or take a few bites out of the edges.  Such a simple project that will really dress up Lyla's room!   

Our Family Room Gets a Facelift

When we first moved into our house, we were a bit overwhelmed with all the space.  Going from a tiny apartment to a house full of rooms was a bit daunting.  And we felt like we had to fill it up with furniture right away.  The fact that we had a family room and a living room was wonderful, but it meant we needed to furnish two living spaces.  We didn't really know what our style was at that point either. 

So we ended up with a red couch and love seat.  It's funny, neither Adam nor I are all that fond of the color red.  But somehow we ended up with lots of it in our house.  We had some red accents in our kitchen, so I think we felt like we needed to tie the two spaces together.  Our kitchen and family room are open to each other and share the same paint color.  After living in our house for a few years, we're not crazy about the paint color anymore and would love to change it.  But then you run into the whole If You Give A Mouse A Cookie problem once you start changing things like paint color.  If we paint the family room, we'd have to paint the kitchen because the walls carry on into the kitchen.  And we'd have to move the fish tank in order to paint the walls behind it.  And so it goes. 

Eventually we'd love to move the fish tank to the wall where the love seat currently is.  And paint the walls a light gray or blue.  And paint the paneling and trim in the family room white.  And if we paint the walls in the family room, that means we'd have to paint the walls in the kitchen.  And then we'd want to change the back splash in the kitchen.  And paint the kitchen cabinets.  And get new counter tops.  Oops...sorry you got stuck in my daydreams! 

Back to our mini facelift.  It all really started with the blinds on the doors.  When we moved in, there were very dated vertical blinds covering the doors.  (Only the left door opens, the right side is more like a floor to ceiling window.)  One of the first things we did was tear those down.  All the other windows in the house had white faux-wood blinds.  I thought all the window coverings had to match, so I bought more white faux-wood blinds.  I remember when I bought them how the guy at Home Depot asked where they were going.  I told him on a door and he warned me that they would clang around every time you open the door.  I ignored him and continued on my quest for matching window coverings.  So I bought and installed the blinds on the doors. 

Fast-forward a few years.  The blinds drive us crazy, just like the guy at Home Depot said they would.  Jazzy goes in and out those doors to go outside.  We go in and out every time we put the babies in the swing.  We use them when we grill.  And the blinds bang and clank around and are super annoying!  I personally would be okay with the doors being bare, but Adam wants there to be some sort of covering at nighttime.  It really is very logical and safe to have some way of covering up the glass on the doors.  So I talked Adam into taking down the blinds and putting up a curtain rod with curtains instead.  That way they could be open during the day and closed at night. 

I wanted to find a curtain rod that would be sturdy and could handle the curtains being pulled open and shut every day.  We decided on an industrial-looking pipe curtain rod.  It's manly and sturdy.  We got ours from Walmart because it was the most inexpensive, but I saw similar ones at Target and Lowe's. 

Once we had the curtain rod, we needed to find some curtains.  Adam and I decided we needed something with a pattern since there's nothing else going on in that room.  Adam also requested blackout curtains which would fully cover the glass at night and help with energy efficiency.  I figured navy would be a color that would tie in with the rest of our house but still look good with the red couches.  So I found some navy, almost gray, patterned curtains that were blackout and energy-efficient at Lowe's that fit the bill.  We hung the curtains so they would hang a little outside the door trim and not interfere with opening and closing the door.  The grommets at the top allow for the curtain panels to be easily opened and closed. 

I absolutely love how they have instantly turned the family room into a more beautiful space!  I actually want to spend time down there now.  I am actually writing this blog post while gazing up at our lovely, new curtains from time to time.  It also helped make the room look bigger and more open by taking down the blinds.  It was definitely the right move. 

In order to tie the curtains into the space, I decided to get a few throw pillows for the couches.  I sold our old ones through Facebook marketplace.  Since we never sat on those couches, they were in pristine condition.  With our couches as blank slates, I started to add in some throw pillows that would coordinate with the new curtains.  I had two white and navy chevron curtains that I had made a long time ago to go in the guest room that is now Archer's room.  Adam and I took the kids to TJ Maxx to hunt for pillows and we found one almost batik-like patterned one with tassels.  The tassels kept Lyla occupied while we searched for more pillows.  The other pillow we found featured a panda wearing a hat and glasses.  It's charming and whimsical.  Besides, now we have kids and have an excuse to get fun pillows. 

I found two others at Tuesday Morning.  One is a floral pattern and one has a similar pattern to the curtains.  All these seemingly random pillows actually go together quite well because they are all in the same color scheme.  I love how they instantly elevate our space. 

We also took the opportunity to pare down some of the stuff we had going on above our estate-sell find bar cabinet.  We had shelves that showcased our shot glass collection.  I know it's tacky, but we pick up a shot glass every time we go on vacation.  Adam had made some frames with bottle caps (his first woodworking project ever!).  And we also had a bottle cap map of the United States.  There was a lot going on and it was starting to look very cluttered.  So we took everything down, patched the walls, and repainted.  Adam wants to put a new finish on the frames and I've commissioned him to build something to showcase our shot glass collection.  Until we figure out exactly how we want that space to look, we decided to just leave it blank for now. 

A few final changes we made were swapping and rearranging a few things.  We swapped the rug that was in front of the door with the one that was in front of our garage door.  It was navy and fit perfectly with the color-scheme we had going on.  I moved some black cubes to our basement that were in the corner next to the bar cabinet.  That allowed us to move the bar cabinet over and make room for the curtains to hang.  I also moved the coffee table in front of the love seat.  It helped open up the room more and not block the path to the door. 

So there you have it, our family room's facelift.  It's pretty amazing how some curtains and pillows can completely transform a space.  It's now one of my favorite spaces in our home.  And Lyla and Archer are putting their stamp on the space by putting fingerprints on the windows of the doors.  Gotta love a space the whole family can enjoy.               

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Eleven Months!

We are quickly closing in on a year!  Archer and Lyla made it to the eleven month mark today.  They are both growing so much every single day!  The seem to pick up new skills each and every day.  Both Lyla and Archer are on the move.  They despise holding still, especially when I am trying to take their picture.  This is the best I could do in trying to get them both in one picture.   

They are both starting to understand what words actually mean.  They've known Momma, Dada, and Jazzy for quite awhile now.  But now they know what "no no," "hi," "bye," wave," "shake," "clap," and "yuck" mean.  Archer can even say "yuck."  It's incredible how much they soak up language.  

Archer has had an exciting month!  He recently took his first unassisted steps!  He's pretty darn sturdy and has taken up to five steps on his own.  He even manages to stand up on his own without holding onto anything.  I'm sure Lyla will take note and be walking in no time.   

Archer still has separation anxiety big time and gets very upset when I leave.  He even throws a fit if I go in the kitchen and he can still see me.  I am hoping this starts to ease up soon!  He is starting to get more comfortable smiling at random people we see at the store.  He'd never be okay with them holding him, but he'll at least smile and wave at them now.  

He loves to jabber in his own little language.  He loves Jazzy and tries to pet her, but he can't quite get the concept of being gentle down.  He loves to climb on and off the fireplace and on his Pikler triangle.  He loves to be chased and will squeal with delight when we say, "I'm gonna get you!"  He loves bath time and being read a bedtime story.  He loves swinging in his swing and taking walks while riding in the stroller.   

He's been working on stacking his blocks.  He can't quite get the hang of it yet, which makes him mad.  The fact that I taped the knobs to the doors on the tv stand shut also makes him mad.  He also gets mad when he's hungry.  Other than those times, he's a pretty happy guy.  

Lyla continues to be strong-willed and independent.  She's content to crawl and gets around very quickly.  When I try to get her to walk towards me, she just plops down and crawls to me.  She is very into cruising around furniture.  She loves to walk along the edge of her toy basket and toss out every toy behind her head.  She also loves to walk along the window sill, especially if she sees a bird or bunny or Jazzy.  

Lyla is still my little social butterfly.  She offers up anyone she sees her smile and dimples.  She eats up all the attention people give her.  She loves to look out the window in her high chair and wave as all the neighbors check their mail or leave in their cars.  

Lyla wakes up happy and is content to play on her own.  She loves to jabber to herself and "read" books.  She's not so much a fan of getting her face wet during bath time.  She and Archer are starting swimming lessons soon, so we'll see how that works out.  She loves to climb on her Pikler triangle and up the stairs.  She's pretty good about stopping when she comes to the top of the stairs, but I still don't trust her to be on her own around stairs.  She loves to chew on my tassel key chain and take Jazzy to check the mail.  She only enjoys being in the stroller for about 10 minutes, so we either go on short walks or I wear her.  She's quite content when I wear her, but unfortunately it's been in the 90s for awhile so we're both soaked when we finish our walks.    

These sweethearts have certainly stolen my heart!  I am starting to plan their 1st birthday party and it's so hard to believe they are almost a year old!  It's certainly been a crazy, overwhelming, but incredibly amazing, time so far!