Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Am A Block. I Am An I-i-island - (A Butcher Block Island, That Is)

Two days ago we made a little more progress on our butcher block island countertop. Earlier in our remodel we shifted the position of our builder island, and we are enlarging the top to allow for more seating. Here's an in-progress pic. Haha, a lot of this kitchen is "in progress"! See how we are still missing a microwave for over the range? Missing the shelf I intend to run below the (now raised) cabinets? And of course, out of frame is the entire missing set of floating shelves, with all my dishes on stackable racks from Walmart. Well, at least we've made a little progress.

This is the Ikea Numerar countertop in beech. It comes in a size of 73 1/4" by 39 3/8" by 1 1/2" thick, for $195, which is about $9.60/sq. ft. We kept the width but took the length down to about 60". I changed my mind about the finished size (me? change my mind?), so now we have a piece that is about 10" and a piece that is about 13 1/2" to make into cutting boards or possibly use as shelves elsewhere. For the first cut, Tyson dragged the behemoth piece of wood over to Lowe's and cut it there. Lowe's wasn't too keen on that, but they let him do it. For the second cut, we borrowed a circular saw and did it at home.  Then we sanded the butcher block with a random orbital sander, routered the edges, and placed it on rags on the island so we could oil the bottom before turning it over and affixing it to the base of the island. I'll detail our butcher block finishing options, techniques, and decision in a later post.

I had originally intended to make the island significantly larger and build it out like a table because I wanted to be able to seat five people around it. Here are some of my inspiration pics for that phase of the idea. This one is the same builder-grade island as mine, but repainted, bun feet added, new door hardware, and table legs and apron added to support the butcher block top. I wanted to do this for the functionality, but was not sold on the look. Tyson REALLY wasn't sold on the look, so I finally let the idea go.

Painted Black + White
Look at the lovely thick butcher block on this one! I think I like the legs better without the table apron.

This one is unique in that it drops the eating area to table height. Beautiful pendant lights, too.

If we went with legs, I wanted simple square ones like these:

I also considered adding flexibility by raising the island up on rolling casters, but it would have to be reinforced a lot due to its somewhat flimsy construction, and really, in a house this small, where would I roll it to?

I really like the concept of this next one, with the lowered kitchen table seating attached to one end of the island, but it would work in my traffic flow. One of Tyson's uncles has a huge kitchen island with a child-height table attached to one end. Genius! I will have to snap a pic next time I am at their house.

Here's a builder island redo that's more of a redirection than an expansion. Cute, nonetheless. A tutorial is included at the link.

At The Picket Fence
The last one I only came across a couple of days ago, or I might have wanted to incorporate this into my own design, even though it cuts the seating space down to two stools. This builder-grade island was expanded with display shelves and a larger butcher block top. Perfect place for cookbooks or (in my life) even for decent-looking kids toys. I'd be scared to put my kitchenware on the shelves for fear of what my toddler and preschooler would do to my things! But I do love the look. There are more pics at the link.

Doesn't everyone love a good "Before" shot? Here's my kitchen a few months ago:

And again, where we are now:

We've still got a long way to go, but I see some progress!

Soooo...on another note, what kind of stools do you think would look better than the ones I've got going on? What kind of brackets or corbels? Have you tried to upgrade a builder-grade item in your home, rather than tearing it out completely? I also recently spray-painted my master vanity light fixtures, and I'm happy with the result for the $4 investment! Our little condo is at a price point that we need to make sure we don't over-improve it or else we'll never recoup any of the investment. granite or marble counters will be going on up in here!

Cat got your tongue-and-groove? My DIY Uniform

Okay, this is my post for Vintage Revivals' FFA Challenge #5, my DIY uniform.

You're supposed to be looking at the shirt, but that adorable kitten's name is Kitty Pot Pie

You might be wondering what this kitten has to do with DIY, but bear with me. It's the shirt you're supposed to notice here. I searched through all my renovation pics, and there wasn't a single one of ME. Some photographer my husband is! Seeing as my uniform is currently in the wash from recent use, I am going to have to go with an older photo that shows the main element. It's a horizontal-striped shirt that I bought when pregnant with my first child. Horizontal stripes are super-slimming on the heavily pregnant, right? I continued to wear the shirt during my second and third pregnancies, and between pregnancies as well. I'm cheap like that. I keep a fair amount of maternity clothes in my wardrobe, and refer to the state of both my closet and my body as "Permaternity" (permanent+maternity) or "Meternity" (maternity+eternity).

I was just into my third trimester with my daughter when we moved back to Utah in September 2011 and began the remodel on our townhouse, so this shirt became my go-to DIY uniform, along with some light-wash maternity jeans with the awesome stretchy Lycra tube waistband from Motherhood. I wore that outfit day in and day out for two months. I feel like this photo gives a good idea since I was heavily pregnant throughout the remodel, but the pic is actually from my first pregnancy 2007. My husband found that feral kitten for me to nurture because he felt my hormonal demands for affection too much to handle, but that's an entirely different story. Just imagine the cat replaced by a can of spray paint held lovingly to my bosom. The point here is that, nearly five years later, this shirt is all paint splotched and stretched out, and I still pull it on for DIY projects.

Has anyone else ever tried to tame a feral cat? Does anyone else wear maternity clothes when not pregnant? In my defense, I don't think this shirt originally came from the maternity section. What do you wear to DIY? Do you like my cat/DIY pun in the title? Oh, I kill me!

What to Store in 72 Junk Drawers - My Beloved Card Catalog

I know I said my next post was going to be the FFA Challenge, but I decided I wanted to have something of mine up here first so instead I'm going to post an ode to my card catalog. Like I said in my CAN'T list, one of my downfalls is being organized. This is something that helps me.

(P.S., I'm sorry the pictures are small and some uncentered. Will try to fix later!)

Behold, in all her glory:

Now, some of you youngsters may not even know what a card catalog is, or what its purpose was/is. I'm not in the mood to give much of a history lesson right now, but I will say that this is how we used to find books in the library before computers became commonplace in libraries. Little cards filled all the little drawers. The cards listed all the materials in the library, searchable by title, subject, and author. With the advent of computerized catalogs, the old card catalog files became mostly obsolete. Some strange people now like to purchase them and repurpose them for use in the home. I've been wanting one for years, and about a year and a half ago my dream came true and I bought a card catalog formerly used at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, Utah.

Card catalogs come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and materials. Mine has 72 drawers, so it's a rather large one. We were living in a tiny basement apartment when I purchased it, so I couldn't even bring it in the house. If I had asked my husband to move it down the stairs to the apartment...well, let's not go there.

I finally was able to set it up when we moved to a different basement apartment that didn't have exterior stairs. The first question my husband had asked when he first saw it was, "What are you going to use it for?" I said I was going to put stuff in it, of course! I think he thought there weren't 72 categories of stuff that could go in these little drawers, but there are! It's my 72-drawer junk drawer! From address books to a voice recorder, everything has an organized little home in my card catalog. In fact, here's the whole list:

Address Book, Batteries, Bills, Business Cards, Buttons, Cables - AV, Cables - Computer, Calculators, Camera, Candles - Long, Candles - Tea lights, Candy, Cards - Index, Cards - Note & Thank you, Cell phone, Change, Chapstick, Checks, Colored Pencils, Coupons, Crayons, Elastics & Twist Ties, Envelopes - Large, Envelopes - Small, Ephemera, Erasers, First Aid, Flashlights, Glasses, Glue, Gum, Hand Sanitizer, Hard Drive, Hardware, Hole Punches, Ink cartridges, iPod, Keys, Labels, Lighters, Lint Roller, Markers, Matches, Measuring Tapes, Medicine, Nail Clippers & Polish, Needles & Thread, Paper clips, Paints, Pencils, Pens, Pins, Playing Cards, Post-it Notes, Receipts, Rulers, Scissors, Shoe Polish, Sidewalk Chalk, Stamps - Ink, Stamps - Postage , Stapler, String, Sunglasses, Tape, Tools, Toys, Voice Recorder

That's not exactly 72. Some are split in two drawers, and I actually have two drawers leftover.

Enough with the talk. Here are the pictures.

Card catalog in our townhouse. Note my creative kid-proofing. I didn't want to do anything to mar or alter the card catalog so I devised a dowel system that causes young children extreme difficulty when they try to open the drawers. One must pull on a dowel with significant and evenly distributed force in order to open all the drawers in that row at once. This keeps kids away from the stuff they shouldn't get. Beck (my younger son) has now become interested in removing all the labels, however, a stage Sawyer (my older son) went through when the card catalog was first set up.

Closeups of the "Batteries" drawer.

In context in our townhouse a few years ago (pre-remodel). If that sofa looks strange, it's because I removed the main part of the gray slipcover, leaving the piece with an odd two-tone look. It was just too heavy and gray with the full slipcover, which was skirted and hid the feet. I regretted this sofa within days of buying it, but it's too big and expensive to flush down the toilet.

Card catalog in context in our first Pennsylvania living room. I rearranged that furniture frequently. Then we moved to another house. Then we moved across the country yet again, back to our townhouse. We have moved this heavy sucker a number of times! It now has heavy felt pads on the bottom so I can slide it around if need be.

My favorite thing about the card catalog is that even my husband knows where things are now, without being told! Best feature ever.

What about you? Are you a natural-born organizer, or a "messy"? Either way, spill your best secrets! I need help! What is your favorite piece of organizational gear? Drawer dividers? A cabinet? An elaborate system of empty formula cans to store your kids' small toys (hmmm...probably just me)? But really, have you ever repurposed something for organization?

The CAN'T list

This is a random list I typed into Notepad last night:

Things I think I *can't* do (but I CAN??!?)

Bake cookies (cake, pie, bread, etc.)
Paint or do anything artistic
Be organized
Go to bed on time, wake up on time, be on time
Think out loud
Play volleyball
Take my three children pretty much anywhere by myself
Make decisions
Keep the house clean
Lose weight/exercise/get in shape
Style my hair
Use power tools/build things/do things for myself
Make good decorating choices

Last on that list I should add "Design and write a blog".

As much as I have wanted to start my own blog as an outlet for my thoughts, I have been held back by thinking I wouldn't do it RIGHT. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to think of a great name, to know how to make it look good (I don't have any idea!), to choose the right platform, etc. Instead, I have now just decided to jump in and start writing for myself each day, and not worry about what comes next. If I want to fix it up later, I can. If I want to learn about graphic design and coding, I can. I don't have to do it right now. The only way to start is to start.

I am creating this blog as a place to challenge myself.

I challenge myself to face my anxieties and document my learning process as I do things I have told myself I "CAN'T" do. I challenge myself to share the things I already CAN do and have done. I challenge myself to write each day. I challenge myself to be positive and uplifting in the way I talk to myself, my readers (oh wait, that was redundant!), and my real-life peeps. I challenge myself to grow and change. I challenge myself to rediscover my creativity and put it to good use. I challenge myself to let go of perfectionism and indecision. I challenge myself to show the perfectly imperfect, the pretty, the not-so-pretty, and the pretty darn good. I challenge myself to make a friend or two.

I intend for this blog to cover a lot of ground, but some of the primary topics will be DIY home renovation, homemaking (cooking, gardening, decorating, preserving, cleaning, sewing, crafting), parenting, marriage, ADD, anxiety and other mental health issues, self improvement, and of course bad haircuts and awkward/embarrassing stories and photos. I will also highlight blogs, posts, people, and things that I love!

That being said, one of my favorite blogs is Vintage, by Mandi Gubler. I love not only her projects, but also her frank, funny, and forthright writing style. She started a little club called Fearlessly Finding Awesome (FFA) that gave me just the kick in the pants I needed to get going on this ole' bloggy. Sure, I'm several weeks behind, but I'll catch up! My next post will be FFA Challenge #5. I'll try to hit the previous ones as I go forward.

By the way, Mandi's bedroom is one of my favorite projects on her blog. Check it out!

So, what's on YOUR "Can't" list? What's on your CAN list? What's one of your favorite DIY blogs?

A Farewell to CAN'T

Original ad here
In case that's hard to read, it says:

A Farewell to CAN’T
This goodbye does not make me sad. I will not miss you.
I have discovered what it feels like to do the unthinkable.
The hard. The long. The challenging.
You have no business here anymore.
From now on, difficult will seem doable.
I will see the impossible as simply not-yet-conquered.
Farewell, Can’t. You will haunt me never again.
Hello, Can.
Welcome to my world.

Welcome! Welcome!

Wait a second. I'm basically welcoming myself, because this is the first post on this blog and no one knows about the blog besides me. Oh well. It's not the first time I've talked to myself, and it won't be the last!

I am an avid blog reader, and I have really wanted to start my own blog for a long time, like a couple of years. I should have started one sooner. I saw a poster on Pinterest that said "One year from now you'll be wishing you started today". Yup. But better late than never!

Before I was a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I was an advertising copywriter. Just like Sherry from Young House Love! Only she worked in New York, the center of the advertising world. I worked in the far, far outskirts. Not the outskirts of New York. The outskirts of Salt Lake City. Very outsy-skirtsy, as far as advertising goes, but I enjoyed my clients and my work. I have not been a full-time writer for almost five years now, and I really miss it. This is a place for me to start writing regularly again.

Speaking of copywriting (which is, by the way, any marketing-oriented writing for print ads, radio, TV, billboards, brochures, websites, etc. -- and not, as my husband once thought, a job putting a circled letter C on stuff), I would love to give proper credit to the writer of the ad above. Unfortunately, copywriters don't have bylines (wouldn't that be weird if they did?). Hey copywriter, your name is unsung but at least your words are not unread! The ad was for the organization Outward Bound and ran in magazines last year.

I hope you find the words as inspiring as I do. I hope my blog will be inspiring, too! Thanks for joining me on this journey. What's an inspiring or motivational thought that gets you in the mood to grow and change?